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.
These products will help you stay warm and cozy all season long.
These products will help you stay warm and cozy all season long.
Seasonally perfect products for staying warm and cozy indoors all season long.
As the mercury drops this fall, don’t despair about the cold, dark evenings that have you heading indoors to seek refuge. With the right at-home accessories, you can enjoy your coziest fall at home ever! You’ll be so comfy cozy indoors that you’ll be perfectly happy to settle in and enjoy the season from the comfort of your couch!
1 Cable Knit Throws
There are blankets and then there are blankets (like the one that everyone in the family fights over when it’s time to curl up with a movie on a crisp fall evening). These gorgeous throws from Boll & Branch are truly luxe. They're certified organic and made with eco-friendly, non-toxic dyes. Best of all, a portion of every sale is donated to Not For Sale, an organization dedicated to helping end forced labour and human trafficking. Cable Knit Throws, Boll & Branch, $125 each.
2 Philosophy Living Grace Shampoo, Bath & Shower Gel
When the wind is whirling outside and the leaves on the ground are swirling, seek solace in your own personal at-home sanctuary. Run a hot bath and top it off with Philosophy’s Living Grace Bath Gel. The luxurious formula will cleanse, condition and soften dry, tired skin, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Philosophy Living Grace Shampoo, Bath & Shower Gel, Sephora, $31.
3 Mahabis Classic Slippers
Chilly fall nights mean chilly floors. Keep your tootsies comfy and cozy with these stylish slippers that look as good as they feel. With their distinct focus on design (they have a Scandinavian aesthetic and boast European craftsmanship), these aren’t any slippers you’re used to. With Mahabis, the simple slipper gets a luxe makeover: Lightweight and breathable with a wool lining, they also come with detachable wool soles so you can wear them outside, too. Mahabis Classic Slippers in Larvik Dark Grey, Mahabis, $138.
4 No. 35 The Earl Grey Tea
Nothing warms up a cold night like a hot cuppa tea. But this fall, take your tea to the next level with something a little more special than the tea you normally buy at your local grocery store. This classic blend Earl Grey tea is made from organic full-leaf Ceylon black tea and is scented with Sicilian bergamot. The rich taste combined with the intoxicating aroma will make you forget how cold it is outside and relish every moment indoors this season. No. 35 The Earl Grey Tea, Bellocq Tea Atelier, $15.
5 Blanket Wrap
You’ll never feel fall’s chill when you’re swathed in this handsome wrap that’s part blanket, part sweater. It’s interchangeable, offering two colour options and can be converted to two different lengths. Plus, it’s 70% wool and 30% cashmere, making it totally luxurious. You’ll look chic wearing it but feel like you’re still in bed. Win, win! Blanket Wrap in Teak/Ebony, Kit & Ace, $428.
6 The Couple Next Door
There’s nothing like a gripping thriller to get you through those long dark evenings. Once you’re completely sucked into this novel's suspenseful storyline, you’ll forget all about the wicked weather outside. A New York Times Bestseller, The Couple Next Door is quickly gaining acclaim from readers and thriller authors alike and is poised to be the book of the season! The Couple Next Door, Amazon.ca, $15.36.
7 Staghorn Cable Reading Socks
Speaking of books … when you’re curled up on the couch with your latest can’t-put-down read, you’ll adore the coziness of these cable knit reading socks. Super soft, warm and soothing to cold, tired feet, they’re just what you’ll long for at the end of a long day. Staghorn Cable Reading Socks in Grey, Indigo, $20.
8 Byredo Bibliotheque Candle
There’s something about the rich fragrance of a luxe candle that fills a home with a sense of place. An aroma you love can quickly become strongly associated with positive memories and the gentle glow of candlelight is no doubt relaxing and romantic. Which means that adding candles to your home is always a good idea (just don’t forget to keep an eye on them and don’t leave them lit and unattended!). We love this candle from Byredo Parfums. Handmade in France, it has notes of peach and plum, violet, leather and vanilla. Byredo Bibliotheque Candle, Holt Renfrew, $108.
Learn how to style your open-concept space.
Learn how to decorate your open-concept space with these helpful tips and tricks.
The 1,100-square-foot main floor of this Vancouver family home boasting a modern beach house look has a lot going for it, namely all the light. The large open-concept space consisting of a kitchen, living area and dining room is flooded with natural light thanks to five skylights and plenty of windows. “It’s so bright, even in the grey West Coast winter,” says one of the homeowners. But such a spacious undefined layout doesn’t come without its challenges – when a great room is too great for its own good, how does one make it cozy and livable? The homeowners worked closely with architect Jonathan Katz of J+R Katz Design & Architecture and designer Melanie Finkleman of Hazel + Brown Design Company to come up with a design that accomplishes just that. Here are eight ways they made this open floor plan shine.
1 Paint everything one shade: Sticking with one paint colour throughout an open-concept space prevents a disjointed appearance. On the main floor, designer Melanie Finkleman selected the same crisp white for the walls, ceiling, trim and cabinetry. The result is a bright envelope that emphasizes the home’s light-filled modernity.
2 Use uniform materials: It’s not only paint colour that will provide a cohesive look. Design elements like flooring, cabinetry, trim and fabric should also coordinate. In this house, the driftwood-look oak floors run throughout the space, and the grey Caesarstone countertops in the kitchen complement the concrete-topped coffee table in the living area.
3 Keep it casual: Open-concept living marries well with a laid-back lifestyle. This family-friendly home has nothing too precious or breakable and boasts plenty of hard-wearing choices, such as hardwood floors and leather chairs.
4 Define separate areas: Large open spaces can feel cavernous if specific zones aren’t demarcated according to their function. Here, the furniture arrangement defines the living area, while the Caesarstone-topped island delineates the kitchen.
5 Decorate with texture: In an expansive monochromatic room, texture is key. “The ceiling-height brick fireplace and the geometry of the built-in shelving unit add visual interest without distracting from the minimal aesthetic,” says Melanie.
6 Keep the aesthetic consistent: “Since the kitchen is visible from every angle, we used simple materials – matte grey Caesarstone for the countertops and grey back-painted glass for the backsplash – so it would seamlessly integrate with the rest of the space,” says Melanie. Such a neutral backdrop means the look is consistent when viewed from any area on the main floor. “It’s calming because your eye doesn’t bounce around too much.”
7 Choose simple window treatments: Barely-there white roller shades control light and offer privacy. “They block out the southern glare while maintaining the airy feel of the space,” says Melanie.
8 Include ample closed storage: No matter how much we all strive to live minimally, having some stuff is inevitable. “We were realistic about wanting to hide visual clutter in the kitchen since it’s so connected to the living area,” says Melanie. Plenty of closed cabinetry means everyday dishes, small appliances and various odds and ends are out of sight, giving the entire space a tidy appearance and allowing the pops of colour in the living area to shine.
Recipe: Moroccan sweet potato, red quinoa & chickpea salad with honey harissa dressing
A main course, Moroccan-inspired red quinoa salad made with a zesty Harissa (hot chili paste) dressing.
For honey harissa dressing
For the salad
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the honey harissa dressing.
2 Toss 1⁄4 cup of the dressing with the sweet potatoes and spread out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Toss another 2 tablespoons of the dressing with the chickpeas and spread out onto another parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender.
3 In a small pot, bring the beluga lentils and 4 cups cold water to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Drain, rinse and place in a large bowl, along with the roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
4 Meanwhile, in another small pot, bring the red quinoa and 4 cups water to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain the quinoa and let dry in the sieve for 2 minutes. Add to the sweet potato mixture.
5 Stir in the green onions, pumpkin seeds, pecans, mint and cranberries. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and toss gently to combine. Place the warm salad on a large serving platter and garnish with the fresh pomegranate seeds and mint leaves. Serve.