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.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Can you tell which bathroom is high and which is low?
Can you tell which bathroom is high and which is low?
We designed a luxe bathroom using two different budgets. Can you tell which is the high and which is the low?
We designed a luxe old-meets-new bathroom using both a flood and a trickle of cash flow. Can you tell the difference?
1 Brass Colebrook 1041 pendant light in Aged Brass, Universal Lamp, Hudson Valley Lighting, $375.
2 Gold-leafed carved wood Empire-style mirror, Barrymore Furniture, $4,730.
3 Unisex cotton Antiochia bathrobe in Grey & White, Au Lit Fine Linens, $139.
4 Carrara marble and antique-brass-finished iron Darcy side table, Pottery Barn, $399 US.
5 Hand-carved oak and linen Louis sidechair, Art Shoppe, $699.
7 Hammam-style cotton Antiochia hand towel in Grey & White, Au Lit Fine Linens, $34.
8 Brass floor-mounted Traditional tub filler in Champagne Bronze with cross handle, Delta Faucet, $2,425.
9 Framed Harmony artwork by H. Kalisher, 24" x 24", Barrymore Furniture, $400.
1 Polished brass-plated steel geometric pendant light, CB2, $120.
2 Gold-leafed metal and MDF Valonia mirror, Barrymore Furniture, $810.
3 Unisex washed linen bathrobe in Light Grey, H&M, $60.
4 Carrara marble and steel Solo side table in Gold, Shelter, $299.
5 Lacquered oak and linen blend Louis side chair in Beige, Structube, $299.
7 Hammam-style cotton hand towel, HomeSense, $8 per pair.
8 Rubinet brass Raven tub filler in Satin Brass with cross handles, Taps Bath Centre, $2,199.
Harking back to the late 19th century, free-standing cast iron clawfoot bathtubs flooded the decor world roughly a decade ago. The traditional tub has enjoyed a variety of modern manifestations and manipulations. One trend we’re particularly fond of is painting the tub’s exterior black, a clever DIY that adds a dramatic edge. But oceania has done one better: the Milano bathtub replicates the look without the work, and (bonus!) it’s made of acrylic, so it’s light- weight, easing installation.
Oceania Influence free-standing acrylic Milano bathtub in White & Black, Taps Bath Centre, $2,299; Arto handmade concrete Conche floor tiles in Charcoal Gray with smooth finish, Creekside Tile, $18 per sq. ft.
Whatever your style, a set of lush white terry towels is essential to bath time. Don’t let this simple staple fool you: all towels may look alike, but higher quality means a better feel as well as superior perform- ance and durability. so read the fine print before making your pick – regardless of your budget.
1 Double-sided cotton Portofino face cloth, $13, hand towel, $23, and bath towel, $34, all in White, Au Lit Fine Linens.
2 Style at Home Collection double-sided three-ply ring-spun cotton face cloth, $13, hand towel, $17, and bath towel, $26, all in White, Sears.
3 Canadian Living double-sided one-ply ring-spun Egyptian cotton face cloth, $10, hand towel, $15, and bath towel, $20, all in White, Bed Bath & Beyond.
4 Springmaid one-sided two-ply combed Egyptian cotton face cloth, $6, hand towel, $9, and bath towel, $12, all in White, Walmart.
Our luxe loo gets its undeniable grandeur from the large gold-framed mirror. similar vintage-style looking glasses are popping up everywhere, and we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up a few of our faves. Whether you prefer ornate ornamentation or minimal embellishment, we’ve got an option for you. Good luck picking the fairest of them all!
1 Gold-leafed metal and MDF Valonia, 42" x 59", Barrymore Furniture, $810.
2 Gold-leafed wood louis Philippe Gilt, 34" x 56", Restoration Hardware, $545 US.
3 Iron Gleaming Primrose in Gold, 39" x 39", Anthropologie, $398 US.
4 Made Goods gold-leafed wood Philippe, 30" x 64", The Cross Decor & Design, $1,575.
When a popular piece transcends trendy to become timeless, the decor world benefits. such is the case with the crowd-pleasing peshtemal, or hammam towel, a go-to that bears all the makings of a classic. With origins in turkish bath- houses, it’s traditionally handmade from organic fibres in muted tones and features tassel edging and decorative stripes for a touch of frill. this towel is also flat-woven and com- pact but dries fast and wicks moisture well. Best of all, it’s equally at home in the kitchen and in the bath.
Tour this Vancouver home's modern eclectic look.
This Vancouver home's modern eclectic look is a testament to the power of a sister act.
Now that the dust has settled on their massive whole-house renovation, homeowners Anna Wright and Alistair Sale – both busy professionals and parents of Lewis, 10, Freddie, 8, and George, 6 – each have their favourite features of the new interior. For Alistair, the cook of the family, the open kitchen is the (long-awaited) best part. Anna is most excited about the master ensuite bathroom she doesn’t have to share with the kids. And for the boys, it’s their bigger playroom in the finished basement.
The Vancouver family lived in the 3,700-square-foot 1920s home for five years before embarking on the huge overhaul. “I’m so glad we lived in the house for a while first and figured out what we wanted,” says Anna. “If we’d done the renovation right away, we would have done things very differently, and those decisions probably wouldn’t work for us now.”
The crisp white brick fireplace surround, built-ins and original wood panelling set off the dark grey on the upper walls of the den. Leaded glass cabinetry doors are another original feature. The antique chandelier was picked up at a London flea market.
A contemporary pale orange sofa pops against the white panelling and dark grey walls. The Mid-Century Modern desk was a lucky find at an antiques store a few years back, as was the Tolix chair.
Going vintage is often a more economical decorating idea than buying brand new, says Sophie.
The birdcage pendant light adds another unexpected dose of colour and whimsy.
In the dining area, an antique zinc-topped table from a French flea market pairs well with mismatched colourful Eames dining chairs. “We thought the different hues of the dining chairs would be quirky and fun,” says homeowner Anna Wright.
The designer pendant light was a pricey find from London, England.
Expanding the existing skylight and adding more windows above the sink brought loads of natural light into the white painted kitchen. Homeowner Alistair Sale greatly appreciates the bigger sink, but extra kitchen counter space, double wall ovens and a gas cooktop were at the top of his must-have list.
French doors lead out to a newly enlarged wraparound deck off the open kitchen/dining area, making the backyard much more accessible. The kitchen peninsula is perfect for casual breakfasts and homework time.
The zinc top on the antique dining table can take plenty of wear and tear from everyday family meals; the stark white modern dishware strikes a pleasing contrast against the patinated surface.
A desk area in the kitchen serves as the family workspace and offers plenty of storage space for the kids’ paperwork and school supplies. Inspirational photos and small pieces of art bring personality to the nook.
The new master ensuite bathroom is Anna’s retreat from hectic work and family life.
The matching gold mirrors in the master ensuite are a glitzy big-box score.
Grey and white cement floor tiles provide ornate pattern in the otherwise serene white room.
The bathroom floor tiles themselves weren't very expensive, but shipping the from California was.