House Tours

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

A new-build cottage becomes a cozy family retreat. Author: Robin Stubbert

House Tours

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Designer Natalie Chong transforms a new-build cottage into a comfy family retreat that revels in whiter shades of pale.

 

"When my husband and I walked into the original cottage, I mouthed to him behind the real estate agent's back, 'not in a million years!' recalls the homeowner of this now transformed getaway. It was 1992 and the Toronto-based couple was on the hunt for a cottage to share with their two daughters and son, then all under the age of six. "We saw an estate-sale ad for a cottage in Muskoka, Ont., and thought, Why not have a look?"

She describes the 1,000-square-foot cedar structure they went to view as "a total dive with plywood floors and no kitchen cupboards," but noted the real estate agent was smart to show them the interior first, as the cottage was quickly redeemed by the rest of the property's offerings, namely 20 acres of land and 1,000 feet of private waterfront.

With the ideal structure in place, the focus turned to the interior. "I needed help decorating," says the homeowner, "so when the owners of a bedding store I've frequented for more than 20 years highly recommended a designer, I didn't hesitate." That designer, Natalie Chong of Nest Design Studio, expanded upon the cottage's existing airy white-on-white aesthetic.

"When I first met my clients, the wife showed me her inspirational tears from decor magazines," says Natalie. "I went through all of them and said to her, ‘You don't want a Muskoka cottage, you want a beach house.' She agreed entirely."

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House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Light-filled living room

In the living room, rope-based table lamps, a driftwood coffee table and a pendant light salvaged from a ship establish a beach house vernacular. “I used nautical elements but in a subtle way,” says designer Natalie Chong. On the fireplace, rough-faced cedar panels hide the TV.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Comforting decor

“Everything in the living room was based on comfort first, and then style,” says Natalie. “The family enjoys reading, watching movies and having singalongs together, so I made sure there was plenty of seating.”

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Kitchen design

“This kitchen is simple but grand, so I opted for pared-down yet playful kitchen accessories that wouldn’t distract from the design,” says Natalie. She chose clear-glass pendant lights as a reference to sea glass and vintage letters for a touch of whimsy.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Weathered cabinet

The bar area’s weathered cabinet sets it apart from the rest of the kitchen decor. The built-in wine rack and beverage fridge are convenient features.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Subway-tiled backsplash

Greyish-white subway tiles add a country vibe to this predominantly white kitchen.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Pale blue accents

Pale blue decor accents in the kitchen create a coastal vibe to the very-neutral space. "When decorating with white, it's important to fend off any starkness by incorporating warm shades, soft textures and accents that aren't too rigid," she says, referencing the cottage's tone-on-tone furniture and rounded shapes on display.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Dining area

Handcrafted from reclaimed northern Ontario wood, the base of the dining room table channels its Georgian Bay setting. Natalie chose woven chairs for the sides of the table because “the tropical material exudes a beachy feel.” Sphere-shaped pendant lights provide intriguing pattern and a soft counterpoint to the dining area’s straight lines and angles.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

The bunk bed room

Designed for future grandkids and fondly known as “the bunk bed room,” the cottage’s fifth bedroom features two twin-over-double bunk beds so it can accommodate six comfortably. Inventively positioned sconces provide lighting to each bunk.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Toss cushions

Nautical toss cushions in the "bunk bed room" add a fun and young vibe.

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Bedroom decor

In one of the bedrooms, a beautifully dressed bed elevates humble wood-panelled walls. “With a cottage, it’s important to mix in refined pieces,” says Natalie.  

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat

Ensuite bathroom

“I love that the master ensuite is so sophisticated and doesn’t look like a cottage bathroom at all,” says Natalie. She chose a soft shade of grey paint to create a cocooning effect and played up the elegance with finishing touches that could work in any room, such as tailored drapery, glass pendant lights and a ceramic stool.  

Image by: Style at Home By: Christy Wright Source: Robin Stubbert; styling by Ann Marie Favot and Christine Hanlon

 

 

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House Tours

House tour: Neutral-pale cottage retreat