Tour this lovely cottage on Lake Simcoe!
A designer lends her expertise to help a couple resolve a colourful debate over the scheme for their family cottage.
"He wanted dark tones and a woodsy Aspen vibe. I wanted everything white with clean lines." The “he” referred to is the husband, the “I” speaking is the wife, and in terms of their decor preferences for this new-build 4,900-square-foot cottage overlooking Lake Simcoe in Innisfil, Ont., they were clearly at odds. But the Toronto-based couple, who has a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son and a Samoyed puppy, did agree on one thing: The design had to be practical. And after many reassurances on the wife’s part that her vision could be inviting and relaxing, she says, “My husband eventually gave me free rein. I wanted a gorgeous unfussy space that was easy to maintain.”
To get the look, she turned to Lidia van Zyl, a designer based in Barrie, Ont., who’s well known for decorating waterfront properties in the area. “When I was hired in 2014, the cottage was in its planning stage,” says Lidia. “This allowed us to pore over the plans and confirm almost every detail before the walls went up.” The walls themselves played a crucial role in setting the tone for the space. “Honouring the husband’s preference for a traditional look, I incorporated shiplap into the mix,” says Lidia. The wooden boards, which were most often used in the construction of homes, were applied horizontally in the kitchen, powder room, foyer and master bedroom. “Shiplap, even when painted white, provides a rustic contrast to drywall and has an informal feel that really adds to the casual cottage vibe,” says the designer.
While the scheme may be all white, it’s anything but stark. “The key to decorating with white is to use different shades of it,” says Lidia. “If you look closely, you’ll see the walls are a crisp white, while the beams are coated with a warmer shade.” Wide-plank pale hickory flooring completes the airy backdrop, which Lidia chose to punctuate with bold hits of black. “I love contrast, so I added black accessories to almost every room,” she says. Lidia extended this theme to the furniture as well and, with the kids and puppy in mind, paid specific attention to practicality. “The grey sofas in the living room are covered with indoor-outdoor fabric, so they’re stain resistant and easy to clean,” she says. “And some of the pieces, such as the living room coffee table and foyer console, are crafted from steel, so they’re pretty much damage-proof.” She also introduced a few well-placed antiques throughout the cottage to create interesting tension between old and new.
The 18-month process of building and decorating netted a year-round family retreat that Lidia describes as “refined but rustic.” And even though the wife had total control, she did make an effort to include her husband – sort of. She says: “He really wanted dark floors, but even he conceded the light ones looked better. So I let him think he helped with that decision in a roundabout way. Now we’re all happy!”
Accessories like the rope-hung mirrors and the lantern-style pendant lights make this practical space feel decorated. “I don’t like to take risks when decorating,” says one of the homeowners, “but I did want to mix things up in the kitchen so it didn’t read as plain.”
Designer Lidia van Zyl played the natural tones of wood and stone against sleek black accents to create character in the living room. The tall armoire holds things like games, books and blankets, while the bare floor, a practical option, is easy to clean. A trio of metal sculptures above the reclaimed wood mantel is a departure from the expected mirror or artwork.
In the foyer, the staircase’s natural wood handrail and treads were a purposeful choice. “If we had painted them black, it would have drawn the eye up the stairs as opposed to straight through the cottage to the lake,” says Lidia.
A mix of neutral tones creates subtle depth in the dining area. “The table and chairs appear white at first glance, but they’re actually a soft shade of grey,” says Lidia. the chandelier, painted white to downplay its ornate shape, illuminates everything from meals to crafts.
“This cottage always makes me smile,” says one of the homeowners. “It’s an amazing feeling to open the front door to beautiful surroundings.” the stone skirting – a concession to the aspen look the husband wanted – ties in nicely with the herringbone brick walkway.
The artful arrangement of dark-hued antiques in an all-white area of the living room makes a graphic statement. the antlers are a family heirloom.
“I love a white kitchen because I don’t like distractions when I’m cooking,” says one of the homeowners, “and I can also see what needs to be cleaned.” low-maintenance Caesarstone countertops and a glossy tiled backsplash on the range wall make cleanup even easier. the massive island is outfitted with cupboards that hold cottage necessities, such as candles, batteries and a tool kit.
While the silhouette of the chandelier in the master bedroom is traditional, its wooden beads give it an earthy appeal that suits a cottage. the wicker basket, sisal rug and rustic artwork (it’s made of wood and says “I Love Us”) echo that earthiness, which is tempered by the black furniture.
Hooks and baskets are enough to keep the mud room in order since the basement has ample storage. The built-in bench always comes in handy.
Like the rest of the cottage, the powder room is energized with hits of black. “I love the graphic mosaic-look floor here,” says Lidia. “It’s actually 24-by-24-inch tiles, and they have just the right amount of pattern for a small space.” Vintage racquets used as informal artwork perfectly fit the laid- back vibe of this family retreat.
Follow these tips to get your home summer ready.
Make sure your home is summer ready with these 10 organizing tips.
Embrace those lazy, hazy days of summer with a few simple chores that, done in advance, will make your summer a warm, leisurely breeze.
1 Say goodbye to winter
Simple, seasonal interior updates are key to making your home fit for summer, creating that feeling that winter is a world away. Update your space with lighter, brighter accessories. Extinguish anything that evokes heat – fire logs, heavy rugs and draperies, heaters, and thick blankets. Replace candles with vessels for fresh cut flowers and trade in your winter mats with lightweight white ones. Winter will be out of sight and, thankfully, out of mind.
2 Make room for popsicles
Empty your freezer and defrost it fully, melting any icy build-up. Do an audit of what’s in there – certain products lose texture and flavour over time, so chuck out anything that’s been in there over a year (less time for leftovers, ground meats and chicken). With the extra freezer capacity, you can be stocked up on freezies and burgers.
3 Be ready to party
Be the diva of patio parties with a variety of outdoor entertaining accoutrements. Make sure your blender is margarita-ready and that your cookbooks have the mojito, cold canapé and summer dip recipes flagged. Invest in accident-proof dishware from serving trays to drinking glasses (think melamine). Check out some of our fave outdoor entertaining essentials!
4 Freshen your airflow
Ensure a cool, cool summer – not to mention a lower energy output – with a few simple air-flow updates. Turn your ceiling fan to counter-clockwise (the blades are tilted upward as they spin) to push air downward and create a stronger draft. Replace your air conditioner’s filter or have your central air professionally looked at. You’ll breathe easy having to deal with air-cooling malfunctions in the sweltering summer heat.
5 Put your painting pants on
Summer is the perfect time to take on a sweaty project, and update your deck, door, trim, picnic table or Muskoka chairs with a fresh coat of paint or a bright colour update. Sand the wood, piece by piece, of its existing paint and then coat with a primer. When fully dry, paint with a durable exterior paint. For help on choosing exterior paint colours, check out our expert tips.
6 Invite summer indoors
Interiors can be made summery with sun-kissed windows that have sparkling-clean glass and fresh, breezy window treatments. Thoroughly wash your windows – inside and out. You’ll need a cloth or brush to tackle some of the larger outdoor debris, an equal parts water-vinegar solution and a squeegee -- and do away with winter drapes. Clean and store those thick, heavy, double-layered draperies and replace them with thin sheers in light, airy colours that embrace the summer sun.
7 Stock up for summer
Stock up on summer essentials. Fill your medicine cabinet with sun block, aloe and insect repellant. In your linen closet, store picnic blankets and fresh and fluffy beach towels. In the pantry, keep a picnic basket prepped with colourful linens and biodegradable dishware at the ready. Fill your garage with backyard sports items such as a croquet, badminton or lawn bowling set.
8 Flip the shed
Goodbye to your snow blower, shovels, salt and skis – it’s time to bring forward your summer sports gear, lawnmower, fertilizer, hose, sprinkler and garden tools. Have them upfront, organized and easily accessible, so you won’t be rummaging through the remnants of winter to access to your outdoor summer needs.
9 Make your deck your favourite room in the house
Create an outdoor extension of your indoor living space: comfortable, clean and filled with your favourite things. The fun part of patio cleaning is that it can mostly be tackled with warm, soapy water, a scrub brush and a hose – your deck, outdoor upholstery, furniture (depending, of course, on the finish), walkways, and even your hammock (read our great tips on cleaning outdoor furniture). After cleaning and arranging your furniture, create a moonlight mood with outdoor lights, and punctuate the space with flowering planters, candles and pillows.
10 Bring out your BBQ brawn
Muscle up and give your barbecue a deep clean. Disconnect the gas, disassemble the barbeque from roof to tray (according to manufacturer instructions) and clean with soapy water. Tackle the grill separately with a hard-wire brush – use oven or barbeque cleaner on particularly tough build-up. After cleaning, heat the barbeque, letting it run on high for about 10 minutes, before it cools fully. Finally, wipe the grates with a thin layer of cooking oil. Your grill may not sparkle like new (and nor should it), but you and your guests will enjoy better-tasting burgers!
Welcome fall into your home with this tasty crumble.
Welcome fall into your home with this tasty crumble.Credits: Maya Visnyei
You'll love this sweet seasonal pear and ginger crumble.
Is there anything that says autumn more than a crisp fruit crumble, oozing with syrupy goodness and a crunch of oatmeal on top? Our version skips the traditional apples this season and instead focuses on pears and ginger for a sophisticated dessert that will have you begging for more.
1 In a large bowl, gently toss together the pears, brown sugar, crystallized ginger, orange zest, orange juice, flour, ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
2 Spread in a 9" x 13" ovenproof baking dish.
3 Dollop 2 tablespoons of the dulce de leche evenly overtop of the filling.
4 Preheat the oven to 425°F.
5 In a medium bowl, stir together all the topping ingredients except the butter.
6 Using your fingers, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
7 Squeeze the mixture with your hands to form clumps and sprinkle the topping over the filling.
8 Bake until the topping is light gold and the filling is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.
9 Broil until the topping is deep gold, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve warm with the remaining dulce de leche on the side.
Tip: Anjou, Bosc and Forelle pears, firm varieties that hold their shape when cooked, are best for this dish.
Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall.
These faux marble options are just as elegant as the real deal.
Few materials strike a chord with us in the same way that marble does. The sought-after stone, with its subtle sheen and veined markings, is quick to catch the eye and lends a luxe look to a space without being over the top. The downside, of course, is its price point. Here are 5 marble-like options that will achieve the same sophisticated, formal look for a fraction of the cost.
Looking for a faux marble tile that can handle heavy foot traffic? Consider peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles. In addition to their resilient nature, the tiles can be installed over most existing flooring. In other words, they make for a perfect weekend DIY project that won’t end in defeat. TrafficMaster Premium Vinyl Tile in Carrara Marble, Home Depot, starting at $0.89/sq. ft.
If you love the marbled look, you’ll want to customize all of your furniture with this stylish contact paper. The affordable material has a peel-away backing that can stick to almost any surface, from the top of a coffee table to the inside of kitchen drawers. Keep in mind that the paper doesn’t react well to water, so avoid using it in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. Marble Contact Paper in Marmi Grey, Design Your Wall, $59.99 per roll.
Elevate your living space with ceramic wall tiles that mimic the look of marble like this elegant option from Ciot. Though similar in appearance, ceramic is far more delicate than marble and is therefore more susceptible to chips and cracks. The solution: Be strategic with placement, avoiding high-traffic areas in favour of bathroom walls or backsplashes. Marvel Wall Tile in Calacatta Extra, Ciot, see store for pricing.
Porcelain is another classic material that boasts marble's polished aesthetic without the hefty price tag. The tile is more resilient than ceramic, which makes it perfect for flooring as well as bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes. Let's just say marble-inspired porcelain has the ability to make any space sparkle. Glazed Porcelain Tiles in White, Olympia Tile + Stone, see store for pricing.
If you’re not yet familiar with Laminam, allow us to be the first to introduce you. The innovative material is touted as being the world’s first porcelain tile that's offered in 3 metre by 1 metre panels and is thinner than standard porcelain tiling. This means that in addition to covering existing walls and floors, Laminam can take on an array of delicate surfaces (think fireplace surrounds, kitchen countertops and outdoor areas). I Naturali Laminam in Bianco Statuario, Stone Tile, see store for pricing.