Image: Donna Griffith | Design: Jennifer Garnett | Styling: Christine Hanlon
In Ontario’s quaint yet hip Prince Edward County, a family finds solace in simple living.
Cyclists glide along the country roads, and vineyards appear in vast stripes across sun-soaked fields. Wine-tasting tours, farm-to-table restaurants and markets featuring local produce, meats and cheeses appear around the bend. Birdwatchers traipse through the nearby woods, and kids take to the waves. In fact, on certain summer days, the white sands and turquoise waters of Lake Ontario around Prince Edward County look almost tropical. “There’s so much natural beauty here,” says designer Jennifer Garnett. No wonder she, along with husband Joe Strolz and 11-year-old daughter Zara, make this place their getaway almost every weekend.
“Joe and I have been coming to the area for about nine years,” says Jennifer. “So when an opportunity came up to buy a year-round cottage, we had to take it. When we walked into this house, a sense of calm came over me,” she continues, referring to the effect of the wooden ceilings, open-concept layout and big windows. “A home should add to a family’s sense of well-being, and surrounded by all this acreage, I knew this one would do exactly that.”
To celebrate the 2,000-square-foot house’s country setting, Jennifer opted for natural materials, such as woods and metals, and a subdued organic palette of greens, browns and greys to blend with the outdoors. “I wanted this to be a place where the three of us could reconnect and where we could play board games, sit by the fire and hang out with friends on the deck,” she says. To that end, every part of the house was designed for togetherness. The main living space is one open room; the master bedroom leads out onto the communal deck; and lots of outdoor seating makes it easy for friends and family to join in on the fun.
Combining vintage elements with modern furnishings is one of Jennifer’s hallmarks. As a result, the home manages to be appealingly uncluttered, but has a lot of heart, too. Antiques appear in unexpected places, such as in the living room, where a coffee table that suggests Asian antiquity occupies the space between a Mid-Century Modern-style leather sofa and a woven settee. “Theoretically, the table shouldn’t match,” says Jennifer. “But its lines are perfect.” In fact, this was something she noticed the moment she laid eyes on the piece. “I saw this guy pulling it out of the back of a van, and I hopped out of the car, ran over to him and said, ‘Hey, will you sell that to me?’” she says with a laugh.
Industrial elements and small hits of black play important roles in the home’s look, as well. “You don’t need a lot,” says Jennifer. “But small dark touches in every room provide a texture and grounding.” This is echoed in the home’s black exterior, too. Linear and slim, the modern cottage makes an architectural statement in the daytime. But at night, it assumes an enchanting tone. String lights swing in the night air. The scents of summertime blow in through the open windows. And laughter filters up toward the starlight.
An open layout means meal prep and conversation can unfold together. The combination of the vibrant industrial light fixture with the antique dining table and modern chairs is signature Jennifer, who has a knack for merging styles.
The living room is the perfect place to hang out, whether the family is playing board games, solving puzzles or listening to music. “The leather sofa is so comfy,” says Jennifer. “And the hanging rattan chair is even better.” Punchy black sconces anchor the space, and a soft geometric rug echoes the quiet tone of the walls.
A glass-fronted wood stove is inviting on chilly days and evenings all year round. The vintage-look record player ensures a nostalgic soundtrack.
The outdoor dining area is the ultimate hub for hanging out. “In the evenings, the string lights create an inviting atmosphere,” says Jennifer.
The master bedroom features hazy blue-greys and warm ochres that are in keeping with the home’s casual organic scheme.
Whitewashed wood plank walls provide interest in lieu of a headboard in the master bedroom, and a super comfy armchair has Mid-Century appeal and is cozy for reading and unwinding.
An open shelf holding woven baskets and folded towels sets the tone for a laid-back bathroom. Towels tuck neatly into baskets, and the kilim rug underfoot feels “faraway casual,” says Jennifer. Brass fixtures add warmth and style, while swiveling sconces ensure the lighting is always perfect.
Unpacking and unwinding is a cinch for visitors in this comfy guest room. Easy-to-reach wall hooks and baskets provide storage; a modern mirror hangs over a live-edge table; and an antique velvet-seated chair looks fun next to the colourful kilim rug.