Take a tour of this gorgeous family cottage on Lake Simcoe.
Designer Jessica Waks gives this family's second cottage its own unique flair, creating a spot to accommodate not only guests but also generations to come.
Nudged awake by the sweet smell of fresh cinnamon buns wafting from the kitchen, sleepy family members lumber downstairs, along the way catching sweeping views of serene Lake Simcoe – calm and quiet before the afternoon action takes hold. It’s a common Sunday scene at this Innisfil, Ont., cottage, which is peaceful in the morning until everyone gets up and silence gives way to animated chit-chat and laughter. Often, it’s not just the occupants of this abode in attendance, but the next-door neighbours as well – after all, they’re family, too. The homeowners, a Toronto couple with four adult daughters and two toddler grandchildren, weren’t planning on purchasing a new place – they bought a cottage only five years ago (featured in Style at Home’s July 2013 issue) – but when this 7,000-square-foot three-storey structure directly next door to the first became available, the owners decided to take advantage of the unique opportunity to keep their rapidly expanding family together on these adjacent vacation properties. To make the cottages look cohesive, they rehired designer Jessica Waks – Style at Home’s former design editor – of Jessica Claire Interiors, who had perfectly appointed their first place. “The homeowners wanted the spaces to have their own identities but to also look unified,” says Jessica, discussing how she took the nautical tone of the first property and layered a more country feel into the second. “I used a refined rustic aesthetic to temper its grand architecture, which boasts a spacious foyer and formal principal rooms,” she says.
Jessica was thinking Nantucket rather than classic Canadiana (“it’s more in keeping with the beach locale,” she says) when she rescued the dark and dated interior from its 1980s time warp. The most notable offences? Upholstered doors, inexplicable wall cut outs, tacky floral wallpaper (even on the ceiling in some rooms), mismatched flooring (including fruit-patterned tiles and pink-stained oak), heavily swathed valances, forest green toilets and sinks and a bizarre balcony that jutted into the living room from the second floor. In other words, the cottage called for a complete overhaul. So Jessica started fresh in almost every room, smoothing out the architectural oddities and replacing the flooring with dark-stained oak hardwood, which contrasts the newly white walls throughout – a timeless and cohesive envelope for the elegant nautical look.
Creating a furniture plan for the grand living room was tricky because it has so many points of entry,” says designer Jessica Waks. “Not only did it need to seat a lot of people, but it also had to look good from all angles.” Jessica cleverly selected items like the blue swivel armchairs that can face the central sitting area, the fireplace or the view (win-win-win)!
To make a statement in the foyer, Jessica set visually interesting pieces like the vintage spool-legged console with a curvy linen-upholstered settee against a simple, traditional pedestal table. The jug of maple branches is a nod to the cottage’s sylvan surroundings.
Above the console in the great room, the designer framed and hung a simple grid of antique Simcoe county maps. Believe it or not, the stunning console was a Craigs List purchase. “I love find ing preloved pieces online, at markets and at consignment stores – there are such gems to uncover,” says Jessica, who skilfully pairs these secondhand scores with new custom items.
Meals are often served alfresco with stunning views of Lake Simcoe on the side. To visually connect the two properties, Jessica chose the same outdoor dining furniture for this space as she did for the other cottage next door. “I love how the teak’s grey stain and toss cushions match the stone work and siding of the home’s exterior,” she says.
“The windows in the dining room look out to the front and side of the property,” says Jessica, “so to make up for the lack of lake views and to add visual interest, I chose a charming paisley wallpaper.” The blue-grey tone of the print perfectly matches the original slate fireplace surround.
In the kitchen, the white beadboard cabinetry offers a light and airy country look that’s grounded by darker elements, such as the leathered black granite perimeter countertops and slate-look floor tiles. The wide butcher block-topped island provides ample space for the homeowners, who are avid cooks, to prep meals for their large family.
A pretty patterned wallpaper distracts from this powder room’s awkward angles. Using the space’s drawbacks to her advantage, Jessica leaned a vintage wooden ladder against the wall to hang towels for guests.
The third-floor “bunkie” boasts the most coveted sleeping area in the house: the queen bed in the window niche overlooking the lake. “You can see the sunrise from this spot,” says Jessica. Nautical buffalo-check drapery offers sleepers privacy from the rest of the room.
“As a decorator, I love the strong sense of symmetry that comes from a set of twin beds,” says Jessica, who had these hard-to-find spindle-framed beds for one of the rooms shipped from the US. “I like how they stand out against the wallpaper,” she says. “You can really appreciate the spool detail.”
(Photo by: Joe Kim | Recipe & Food Styling: Tanya Eng)
End your Sunday nights with a classic Canadian treat — maple butter tart pie.
Try your hand at this divine recipe, which takes the nationally revered butter tart and makes it even better by turning it into a whole decadent pie, subtly flavoured with our next favourite thing, maple syrup. What does that mean for your final course of the day? As large a portion as you desire and more of that sugary, buttery filling in every single bite. Oh, Canada!
1 In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and lard, and pulse to a fine crumble.
2 Add the egg and water. Process the mixture to a loose, crumbly meal.
3 Work the pastry into a 1"-thick round disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a ¼"-thick and 12"-round disc.
4 Roll the pastry around a rolling pin.
5 Unroll over a 9-½" springform pan.
6 Work the pastry into the edges of the pan, forming a loose, wavy crust. Chill for 10 minutes.
7 To blind bake the pastry shell, line the pastry with parchment paper and cover the bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 350ºF; remove the parchment paper and pie weights.
8 To make the filling, whisk together the maple syrup, sugar, melted butter, eggs and vinegar in a bowl.
9 Pour the mixture into the baked shell and place the pie on a baking sheet.
10 Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour on the centre rack of the oven. The pie is done when the top is golden brown but the centre is still wobbly. Let cool before serving.
Serves 8 to 10.
(This recipe was originally featured in our October 2014 issue.)
Classic touches with natural accents
Classic touches and natural accents take a builder-basic house from plain to pleasing.
The walnut-stained wire-brushed oak floors and new mouldings give the entryway timeless character, while the black faux-bamboo dresser offers handy storage.
Keeping the original cabinetry, designer Karla Amadatsu and her husband, Jeff, transformed the kitchen by filling the gap between the uppers and the ceiling and painting everything white. Details like the ceramic-tiled backsplash with light grey grout, decorative toe kicks and polished-nickel hardware dress up the space and create a fresh, traditional look.
To enhance the elegant aesthetic while keeping it inviting and fresh, Karla incorporated both classic and clean-lined pieces, natural fabrics, textural elements, a combination of metals and a neutral palette with hits of black.
The living room, with its neutral palette and warm mix of textures, gets a formal vibe from the chic scalloped-linen pendant light, marble-topped gold-leaf iron coffee table and herringbone marble fireplace surround.
A mixture of patterns and textures throughout the home reaffirms the traditional and charming look Karla was going for when renovating the house.
The family room, which is adjacent to the kitchen’s eat-in area, is both elegant and relaxed, with a neutral colour scheme and a mix of classic and clean-lined furnishings.
Plan an escape to the tiny hilltop village of Ravello on Italy's Amalfi Coast.
The heart-stoppingly beautiful Amalfi Coast is a definite bucket-list destination and its tiny hilltop village of Ravello is the perfect base for experiencing la dolce vita.
Day 1: Perched 1,000 feet above the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea, Ravello seems a world away from nearby tourist-heavy Positano, and that is its charm. Check into a sea-view suite at the Villa Cimbrone, a complete splurge but worth it for a memorable experience. the 11th-century villa, which counts Greta Garbo, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill as past guests, features frescoed ceilings, majolica floors, marble fireplaces and antique furniture for a feel that’s more aristocratic abode than hotel.
Head to Ravello’s main square for a tasty espresso at Caffé Calce and take in the view of the Duomo di Ravello before exploring the shops. Cameo Factory sells hand-carved cameos as well as jewellery, and Ceramiche da Lena showcases an Amalfi Coast specialty: intricately patterned and colourful handmade ceramics.
Foodies won’t want to miss Gusti e Delizie for local delicacies (pick up colatura, an anchovy sauce that’s scrumptious on spaghetti) and La Cucina di Sofi, which pours some of the region’s best limoncello.
Celebrate your purchases with a Neapolitan pizza on Mimi Bar Pizzeria’s sun-dappled patio. Return to the villa to put on some comfy shoes for a walk to the neighbouring town of Atrani. The trek, which takes about 45 minutes, is a step back in time. there are no roads – just staircases leading down to the coast through residential gardens and lemon and olive groves. Take the bus back to Ravello and tour the extravagant gardens at Villa Cimbrone (hotel guests have the gardens to themselves at night) and its Terrace of Infinity. Lined with marble busts, this balcony offers breathtaking views of the sea and sky. Drop by the villa’s veranda bar for a glass of Prosecco before having a late dinner at Vittoria, a restaurant popular with the locals. Order the sea salt-encrusted spigola, octopus carpaccio and a glass of local winemaker Marisa Cuomo’s Furore Bianco Fiorduva.
Day 2: No trip to Ravello would be complete without a visit to Mamma Agata’s cooking class. Mamma Agata, who has cooked for Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Humphrey Bogart, has since passed her recipes and her apron on to her daughter, Chiara, and son-in-law, Gennaro, a sommelier. They welcome guests to their sixth-generation family home and terraced garden for a day of cooking and eating. Visitors are wisely advised not to eat breakfast and to forgo dinner plans. Each class begins with a slice of heavenly lemon cake – made with citrus from the garden – and features family recipes, such as the simply sublime Farmer’s Spaghetti. Book well in advance and don’t be surprised if you find yourself next to a famous politician, musician or actor (Pierce Brosnan is a fan).
Day 3: Dig in to the villa’s complimentary breakfast, which features traditional Italian offerings like silky prosciutto and creamy burrata, and then take the ferry from Amalfi to the storied island of Capri. Cars are prohibited between November and Easter, making navigating this magical place a joy. Go for a beach day: Rent a chair and umbrella from one of the local beach clubs and then have an alfresco lunch at Aurora, which serves the island’s best pizza. Don’t leave without treating yourself to a pair of handmade sandals from one of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s favourite shoemakers, Canfora.
Embroidered smoking slippers in Lemon Coral, Soludos, $65 US.
Resurrection Rinse-free hand wash, Aesop, $13.
Ravi scarf in Russet, Block Shop, $75 US.
Fouta beach towel in Poppy, Serena & Lily, $48 US.
Charge HR fitness tracker in Tangerine, Fitbit, $150 US.
Straw market tote, J.Crew, &65.