A fresh seaside-chic lake house
This cozy lake house in Port Carling, Ont., boasts a fresh seaside-chic vibe while paying homage to old-school Muskoka.
Nestled on the south shore of Lake Rosseau in Port Carlin, Ont., this 6,800-square-foot six-bedroom house is decorated the way one would dress when visiting: in a crisp Polo Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt and comfortable, well-worn chinos paired with Sperry Top-Siders. It's a timeless look that's coastal, casual and effortlessly chic with a neutral palette at its core.
"The homeowners wanted to capture that warm, windswept lake house aesthetic but with a relaxed, cozy Muskoka feel for their young family of four," says Cory DeFrancisco of Mukoka Living Interiors, who designed and built the home from scratch, finishing in 2013.
Like a friendly smile and a firm handshake, the entryway makes a confident and inviting introduction to the home.
"A lot of old cottages have those tunnelling hallways in their guest cottage or service quarters, and this beadboard wall treatment references that," says builder and designer Cory DeFrancisco.
This small boathouse sunroom is literally right on Ontario's Lake Rosseau: On windy days, you can feel waves crashing up through the floorboards.
"We took up 90 percent of the wall with windows," says Cory of the gorgeous great room, where the ceiling's oak beams guide your eye directly to the view. "The overstuffed sofas are insanely comfortable," he adds. "They're slipcovered in high-quality Belgian linen that gets softer with each wash.
Though the spacious kitchen is crisp, white and polished, simple details, such as the grain of the reclaimed-oak floors and the texture of the brush strokes on the hand-painted cabinetry, keep it humble and homey. "It's a new take on a traditional cottage kitchen, with all the modern amenities," says Cory.
A big weathered farmhouse table paired with slipcovered seating and sophisticated lighting that doesn't block the view equals a dining room with easy elegance. But the best feature of this space is that, with the doors open, you really feel like you're eating alfresco.
Even though this home is grand, the family who lives here wanted an overall feeling of togetherness, so Cory kept it largely open concept.
The west-facing Muskoka room, with wall-to-wall windows, is so bright that it can pull off the charcoal walls. "The darkness acts as an anchor, while the light that shines in highlights the furnishings," explains Cory. The modular sectional is meant for the outdoors (so go ahead, get it wet) and can be reconfigured when company comes to create multiple sitting areas.
The whole master bedroom is very generous, but its sleeping area is quite small. In it, you'll find only an upholstered bed, two small side tables and a 180-degree view of the water.
The large window behidn the free-standing bathtub overlooks a garden and granite. "It's hard to make boulders sound nice," says Cory with a laugh, "but it's a beautiful view."
"All of those elements are, I think, what makes it feel authentic to Muskoka. There's nothing ornate in the whole place," says Cory. And just 35 feet away, in the boathouse, the look is much the same. The palette is almost all white and the dress code is bathing suits - after all, the lake's right there. Take one step out the door, and jump right in. The water's perfect.
Victorian home gets a spacious kitchen facelift
Convenient storage solutions are at the heart of this Victorian home’s kitchen renovation.
Tara Ellis and Andrew Bell lived with the cramped and outdated kitchen in their semi-detached Victorian in Toronto for 12 years before deciding it was time to make some changes. Not only was the space aesthetically unpleasant, but it was also a pain in their backs – literally. “The existing countertop was installed below standard height. I’m six feet tall, and my husband is about as tall,” says Tara.
Since a few other rooms in the house weren’t terribly livable either, they called on designer Philippe Beauparlant to oversee a massive renovation. “As for the kitchen,” says Tara, “we wanted a better layout with lots of storage, and I’ve always loved a banquette.”
The planning process
“One of the challenges I noticed right away,” says Philippe, “was the kitchen’s poor connection to the backyard.” Specifically, the back door in the adjacent mud room opened onto a tall outdoor staircase. His solution was to move the inside stairs that led down to the basement to the back of the house, incorporating a lower landing area that’s level with the yard. This clever approach allowed for floor-to-ceiling storage on the landing. And with the back wall now completely clad in glass, natural light floods the kitchen.
The design decisions
While the couple loves a modern industrial feel, they also wanted to preserve the home’s character. That’s why Philippe chose a clean cabinet door profile and installed crown moulding that matches an existing one in the house. He also played up the heritage aspect by picking a traditional grey-green shade for the cabinetry. A splash of colour comes from mustard yellow pendant lights and tomato red handles on the Wolf range, which Tara tied together with two stools her mother calls “mustard and ketchup.”
“Everyone gravitates to the kitchen now because it’s so bright and airy in the day and cozy at night,” says Tara.
A dark, cluttered, uninviting kitchen.
Count on designer Philippe Beauparlant to solve the space crunch in this small kitchen.
“There’s a good mix of open and closed shelving,” says designer Philippe Beauparlant of the renovated kitchen. Walnut-veneered uppers open horizontally and provide access to all the items the homeowners use regularly but want out of sight. Only the most used dishes were designated for open shelving so they don’t gather dust.
The dining table was custom made from vintage table legs and a reclaimed-wood top stained to just the right grey-brown. The banquette’s vinyl fabric looks like leather but is easier to maintain.
The floor-to-ceiling cabinet on the landing houses coats and boots as well as sports equipment and seasonal items like patio cushions.
The cabinet on the left side of the range houses a pullout bin for recycling. The garbage and compost containers are located under the sink.
Tins and vases help declutter counters and spice up the area.
Crisp white jars and dishes keep the kitchen clean and simple.
Grey grout deliberately draws attention to the unique pattern of the white subway-tiled backsplash.
How to: Clean your gas range
Keep your gas range looking spotless with these helpful cleaning tips and tricks.
As far as stovetops go, a commercial-style gas range is the first choice for many serious home cooks. In addition to keeping it looking sleek, proper cleaning is key to maintaining its functionality.
Problem: Grimy gas range
1 Remove the grates and any griddles, as well as the burner heads and caps. Using a non-abrasive sponge, wash them well with dish soap and warm water. If the dirt buildup is particularly bad (when was the last time you cleaned these things?), leave them to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. (Do not replace yet.)
2 To loosen the dirt buildup from spills and splatters on the stovetop, cover the spots with a cloth dampened in hot water for several minutes. Using a rubber scraper, remove the debris. With a dampened sponge (not soaked – water can harm the igniter), wipe the whole stovetop. Wipe dry using a microfibre cloth.
3 Rinse and thoroughly dry all the components you removed before replacing them.
4 For a beautifully clean finish, carefully remove all the knobs and wash using the same method as step 1.
For keeping splatters at bay, we love Trudeau’s Flex pot clip (trudeau.ca, $9). Clip it onto your pot or pan for an instant spoon rest. It accommodates both regular cutlery and larger cooking utensils and is a great alternative to its countertop counterpart, which is likely to be dirty or MIA in the dishwasher.Get a leg up on grease in between kitchen cleanup with these easy-to-use cleaning sprays.
Illustration courtesy of Joanna Kam
Tailor-made for gas range surfaces. Weiman Heavy-Duty Gas Range cleaner & degreaser, Canadian Tire, $6.
2 Zero waste
Minimize your carbon footprint: Just pop this little sachet into the reusable bottle and dilute with water. Bio Green Crystals Natural degreaser, Well.ca, $8. Reusable spray bottle, Well.ca, $3.
A Canadian-made, plant-based product. Eco Mist degreaser, Well.ca, $7.
Tip: don’t use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads.