Image: Robin Stubbert | Styling: Christine Hanlon
Holidays will forever feel homey and timeless in this updated traditional year-round Muskoka retreat.
In the cool, pristine light of winter, a cottage can feel cozy. Or, with 20-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking barren trees and an icy expanse, lifeless. This was a major concern for Sharon and Allan Hopkirk when they built their own 4,200-square-foot four-season dream cottage from scratch on Ontario’s Six Mile Lake in Muskoka.
“We spend every single weekend at the cottage with our son, Braden , as well as a good part of the Christmas holidays,” says Sharon. The couple, who lives in Pickering, Ont., trusted that the warm wood ceilings and sturdy stone walls of the post-and-beam home would counterbalance any bleak winter moods. However, one dilemma remained: “Allan and I really like clean, contemporary lines. And we did not want the cottage to feel dated.”
Nailing the design of a modern kitchen within the cottage’s rustic walls was top priority, and since the family entertains a good deal over Boxing Day week – and encourages a help-yourself atmosphere among guests – it had to be casual, too.
After all, keeping the vibe informal is in the spirit of cottage entertaining and is especially ideal over the busy holiday season. “I like my guests to get involved, to have everyone pitching in. This kitchen represents that, and how I wanted the cottage to feel, no matter the time of year – natural and comfortable.”
A matte finish on the kitchen cabinetry makes for a soft transition between the reclaimed elm hardwood flooring and pine ceiling, says designer Nancy Fournier of Northern Living Kitchen & Bath.
The latte-toned Caesarstone island countertop provides a minimalist expanse for impromptu cocktail parties and many potluck holiday dinners served buffet-style, as well as for wrapping pretty favours. Stools encourage guests to congregate here and tuck under and out of the way when not in use.
A natural stone wall provides a rustic focal point in the kitchen clean-up area - centralized yet positioned away from prep and entertaining task zones. "Instead of putting uppers in the corner, we repeated the sleek stained wood in a custom glass-doored unit, which adds a lot of depth," says homeowner Sharon Hopkirk, adding, "I didn't want guests struggling to find or put away dishes." A bright red tea towel with mini faux pine trees with snoy tips play up the traditional charm.
Handmade reclaimed wood dining table
The builder surprised the homeowners with the gift of an oversized handmade reclaimed wood table. A grouping of modern glass ball pendant lights provides a key contemporary counterpoint that doesn't block the lake view.
Traditional red lanterns, a natural frayed-edge table runner and pinecones and greenery picked from outside complete the authentic festive scene.