A Muskoka, Ont., new- build cot­tage pays homage to na­ture and tra­di­tion with a twist


Tucked along the south­ern shores of On­tario’s Lake Rosseau, this new-build cot­tage pays homage to na­ture and tra­di­tion with a twist.

The de­sign in­spi­ra­tion for this cot­tage far ex­ceeded the usual mood board. For­get paint chips and fab­ric swatches – it was all about dirt paths strewn with pine nee­dles, ar­rest­ingly blue lake wa­ter and rugged out­crops of pink-veined ig­neous rock.

“The whole cat­a­lyst for this project was na­ture and its awe­some­ness,” says de­signer Cory DeFran­cisco, prin­ci­pal of Muskoka Liv­ing In­te­ri­ors. “It grew or­gan­i­cally. I vis­ited the prop­erty, sat on the amaz­ing lot and just stared at it. I knew right away that the cot­tage had to be in­te­grated into the rocks. It was dic­tated by the land.”

Cory drew up plans for a 7,500-square­foot cot­tage that would re­spect the ma­ture two-acre wa­ter­front set­ting. “The prop­erty has its own is­land and, at some points, the cot­tage would be only 35 feet from the wa­ter,” he says. “It was crit­i­cal that it fit seam­lessly within the land­scape.”

The struc­ture also had to merge with Cory’s aes­thetic vi­sion. “I wanted a con­tem­po­rary take on tra­di­tional coastal liv­ing,” he says, adding that his aim was to stay true to the macro fea­tures of tra­di­tional waterside ar­chi­tec­ture but to also in­clude a mod­ern spin in the mi­cro el­e­ments.

Cory de­signed the cot­tage’s dou­ble­gabled fa­cade – a macro el­e­ment – to speak to tra­di­tion, while the win­dows – a mi­cro el­e­ment – are fresh and cur­rent, thanks to both their scale and the sheer num­ber of them. He fin­ished the struc­ture with cop­per eave­stroughs and down­spouts, painted cedar sid­ing and cedar shake shin­gles for a metic­u­lously crafted ex­te­rior that feels nat­u­ral and invit­ing.

It was im­por­tant to con­tinue that en­ergy in­side. “The in­te­rior is highly de­tailed,” says the de­signer. “The white oak floors were in­stalled raw and then

hand-fin­ished. There are an­tiques im­ported from Eu­rope and orig­i­nal art­work from Los An­ge­les.” Yet it’s the kind of space you want to walk around in bare­foot. The open plan of the first floor has a make-your­selfat-home feel that’s fur­thered by ca­sual fea­tures like slip­cov­ered fur­ni­ture and slid­ing barn doors.

The mostly white in­te­rior gets con­tem­po­rary con­trast from dark el­e­ments. Black pen­dant lights run along the width of the first floor and, in the kitchen, deep brown paint punc­tu­ates the up­per cab­i­netry and is­land base. Per­haps the most graphic use of dark tones is in the win­dows. “Their black hue, meant to mimic the mod­ern look of steel, lit­er­ally frames the view of the lake and trees, almost bring­ing them into the room,” says Cory. The ef­fect is only fit­ting, given that na­ture planted the seed for this spec­tac­u­lar cot­tage.

LEFT A con­tem­po­rary pen­dant light il­lu­mi­nates an an­tique din­ing table, which Cory im­ported from Bel­gium. “Mix­ing nat­u­ral tones, tex­tures and var­i­ous eras pulls the din­ing area to­gether,” he says. “The chairs are slip­cov­ered in ma­chine-wash­able Bel­gian linen, so they’re easy to keep clean.”

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