A fam­ily of five takes a re­laxed no-non­sense ap­proach to per­son­al­iz­ing their sum­mer re­treat.


To per­son­al­ize their sum­mer re­treat, a fam­ily of five takes a re­laxed ap­proach

Use what you’ve got.

That’s the motto that guided the dec­o­rat­ing of this 3,000-square-foot cot­tage on Lake Muskoka, pur­chased in 2013. “We’re on an is­land,” says one of the busy Ot­tawa-based home­own­ers, “so get­ting things in and out is re­ally cum­ber­some.” And cum­ber­some was not on the agenda for the sum­mer refuge she and her hus­band wanted for them­selves and their three kids, aged 8 to 13.

For­tu­nately, the 1972-built cot­tage was well-kept, so aside from re­plac­ing the car­peted floors with more prac­ti­cal pine planks and giv­ing the kitchen a facelift, the fam­ily em­braced the cedar struc­ture as it was. They also made use of the many fur­nish­ings and ac­ces­sories left be­hind by the pre­vi­ous own­ers, but they trans­formed them with gen­er­ous coats of white paint. “That much wood is re­ally busy,” ex­plains the home­owner, who painted ev­ery­thing from the dark cherry kitchen cab­i­nets to the honey-hued pine dressers to tone things down.

Build­ing on the serene scene, the fam­ily stuck to a greyscale pal­ette when fur­nish­ing the main liv­ing zones; in place of strong hues, they played with tex­ture, em­pha­siz­ing all things nat­u­ral like sheep­skin throws and drift­wood. But colour makes a cameo in the kids’ rooms, as do spe­cial homespun touches. “At the cot­tage you can take more risks,” says the home­owner of the bold blue DIY sten­cilled can­vas head­board in one room. “If it doesn’t work out, well, it’s just a cot­tage.” That’s a laid-back at­ti­tude be­fit­ting lake­side liv­ing.

RIGHT, ALL To cre­ate a re­lax­ing feel, the main liv­ing ar­eas were kept neu­tral, but the kids’ bed­rooms are an­i­mated with hues. The nau­ti­cal theme in the boys’ zone (op­po­site, top left), in­spired “The kids love an­i­mals,” says the home­owner, adding that the wood­land theme evolved nat­u­rally. Propped in the cor­ner, a birch trunk cut on site fits right in. by a model sail­boat left by the pre­vi­ous own­ers, is re­in­forced by red and blue ac­ces­sories. Mean­while, the girl’s room (op­po­site, bot­tom right) cel­e­brates blue and white pat­terns.

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