Stores We Love
Jul 2, 2008
Shopping in Nova Scotia: Backyard & Veranda
Stores We Love
Jul 2, 2008
Shopping in Nova Scotia: Backyard & Veranda
Click to download: Backyard & Veranda
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.
Recipe: Chocolate pecan buttercream cake
Brown Sugar Buttercream
Directions for cake
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Butter and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans. Shake out excess flour. Line the bottom of the pans with circles of parchment paper.
3 In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar. Mix on low speed until well combined.
4 Dissolve coffee in boiling water and set aside to cool to room temperature. Add coffee to dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
5 In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually mix into dry ingredients and beat just until smooth.
6 Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake in centre of preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Directions for pecan meringue
1 Preheat oven to 225°F.
2 Trace two 8-¾-inch circles on a sheet of parchment paper, turn over, and place on a large baking sheet.
3 In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop pecans into very small pieces.
4 In a small bowl, combine chopped pecans and icing sugar. Mix with a fork to make sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
5 In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start whisking egg whites on medium speed. Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until frothy. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to whisk, gradually adding the remaining sugar. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gradually fold in the pecan-sugar mixture. Divide evenly between the two parchment circles, smoothing out the surface of each meringue circle.
6 Bake in centre of preheated oven until crisp and dry, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely on baking sheet.
Directions for buttercream
1 In the clean bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar and egg whites. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continuously until sugar is melted and egg whites are warm to the touch. Remove from heat and place bowl on mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
2 Whisk at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the butter and vanilla and continue whipping until smooth and thick. Set aside.
Directions for syrup
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Directions for decoration
1 Line the back of a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
2 Using a spatula, spread white chocolate over sheet, then pour dark chocolate overtop. Using spatula, quickly swirl the two chocolates together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
Directions for assemble cake
1 Place first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush with soaking syrup. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream (about 1/3 cup). Place the first layer of meringue on buttercream. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat with cake, syrup, buttercream, meringue, buttercream, ending with a cake layer.
2 Using a sharp knife, trim the meringue layers if necessary to make the cake layers even. Ice entire cake with remaining buttercream. Using your spatula, make a spiral design on the top of the cake with the buttercream.
3 To decorate, break marbled chocolate into pieces the same height as the cake. Press gently into buttercream on sides of cake. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.
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Recipe: Spiderweb sugar cookies
1 Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Add the egg and beat until fluffy. Blend in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing just until combined. Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and chill for 60 minutes.
2 Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease 2 baking sheets.
3 On a floured surface, roll out one of the dough halves to a thickness of about 1/3 inch. Cut into circles using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or the top of a drinking glass. Gather and reroll the scraps. Repeat with the remaining dough half.
4 Carefully lift the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 8 minutes, until light golden. Do not overbake.
5 Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it’s not quite smooth, continue to heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double-boiler, over just-simmering water. Avoid overheating, which can cause chocolate to seize up into a stiff mass.)
6 Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag. Seal the bag, pressing out any air. Use a toothpick and make a tiny hole in one corner of the bag to release a very thin stream of chocolate for writing.
7 To make the spiderwebs, spread white royal icing smoothly over the surface of each cookie. Immediately, before the icing can set, pipe a spiral of chocolate over the surface, starting in the middle and working outward. Starting in the center, use a toothpick to pull outward and inward, alternately, through the icing, making a spiderweb design.
Makes: About 36 cookies
Whether you’re making a spiderweb on a cookie, cake, or cupcake, you first need to lay down a base of white or dark icing, then pipe out a spiral of a strongly contrasting color on top (such as white icing with a chocolate spiral). Using a toothpick or the tip of a skewer, start at the center of the spiral and pull gently all the way to the edge. Wipe the tip of the toothpick on a paper towel, and then pull the toothpick from the outside to the center, alternating directions in and out all the way around the circle. (If this makes you nervous, you can also pull out from the center only, but your web won’t be quite as complex.)
Royal icing is extremely versatile; you can divide the amount in this recipe into small cups and tint each portion any color you like to make a decorating buffet for your kids (and yourself).