The Mak­ings of a Lake­side Legacy

We’re head­ing north, to On­tario’s pic­turesque “cot­tage coun­try,” where we’ll fol­low one fam­ily’s tim­ber-home project from start to fin­ish.


It’s a com­mon feel­ing of­ten re­vealed when con­vers­ing about the as­pi­ra­tion of build­ing a cus­tom home — that de­sire to cre­ate a one-ofa-kind re­treat for fam­ily and friends to gather and make mem­o­ries. And for this lake­side project, the sen­ti­ment was no dif­fer­ent.

“The owner ac­tu­ally grew up vis­it­ing that same spot, right on the Lake of Bays,” says Cana­dian Timberframes owner, Jeff Bowes. “When you look across the wa­ter, you can lit­er­ally see his grand­par­ents’ orig­i­nal cot­tage where he spent his sum­mers as a kid. As he got older, he knew he wanted to cre­ate that same kind of ex­pe­ri­ence — and those same mem­o­ries — for his fam­ily.”


A long-time lover of tim­ber-frame con­struc­tion, the owner’s first step to­ward mak­ing his dream home a re­al­ity was to reach out to Jeff Bowes at Cana­dian Timberframes af­ter a past project on the com­pany’s web­site caught his eye. “He found our Elk River home that was built in Fernie, Bri­tish Columbia, in a ski re­sort area,” says Jeff. “It’s close to the same de­sign but flipped, garage end to garage end, to cap­ture the views.”

Mak­ing the home a mir­ror im­age of its orig­i­nal lay­out was the first step to­ward cus­tomiz­ing the plan to suit the owner’s needs. “He liked the idea of two up­per-level mas­ter suites kept pri­vate by a mid­dle cat­walk, sim­i­lar to the Elk River,” Jeff ex­plains. “Keep­ing the up­stairs rooms sep­a­rate so you’re not deal­ing with peo­ple walk­ing down the hall past your bed­room door was im­por­tant.”

That fo­cus on com­fort and pri­vacy car­ried into the home’s six other bed­rooms, in­clud­ing two more on the top level (lo­cated over the three-car garage) and two ad­ja­cent to the main liv­ing area (kept sep­a­rate by a small hall­way). Two more small bed­rooms are tucked away in the lower recre­ational level, which also fea­tures a bil­liard area, golf sim­u­la­tor (“We had to drop the floor in that area to ac­com­mo­date the swing height,” says Jeff) and three-sided bar with a sink and fridge. An out­door stor­age space was also in­cluded in this area to keep some of the sum­mer and win­ter equip­ment out of sight.

Given the lo­ca­tion of prop­erty, out­door liv­ing was equally im­por­tant and added even more liv­ing space to the 6,900-square-foot home. “While his grand­par­ents’ cot­tage was re­ally a sum­mer re­treat, this needed to be a real four-sea­son get­away,” says Jeff.

To achieve this, Jeff and his team in­cor­po­rated a two-level cov­ered deck

with plenty of space for both the chil­dren and adults. They also cre­ated a spa­cious screened-in porch — a de­sign char­ac­ter­is­tic that’s typ­i­cal to the area, says Stephanie Bowes, Jeff’s wife and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Cana­dian Timberframes. “Spring and early sum­mer bring lots of bugs to the area, so hav­ing a screened-in porch just in­creases your liv­ing and en­ter­tain­ing space,” she adds.


In ad­di­tion to the lay­out, Jeff and his team had to ad­dress the look and style of the home dur­ing the im­por­tant de­sign phase, cre­at­ing ren­der­ings and sam­ples for the owner to re­view be­fore set­tling on a mod­ern-meets-rus­tic look through­out. “Af­ter look­ing at sam­ples and fig­ur­ing out what he liked and didn’t like, we ul­ti­mately went with a hy­brid mix, fea­tur­ing struc­tural tim­bers in the spe­cial ar­eas and clean, stick-built con­struc­tion in the bed­rooms,” Jeff ex­plains.

Other ma­te­rial de­ci­sions in­cluded vaulted tongue-and-groove ceil­ings, dark-stained tim­bers (found on both the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of the home) and lots of struc­tural steel plates and ca­bles, an el­e­ment that al­lowed for larger ex­panses and more flex­i­bil­ity with the tim­bers.

With the de­sign for the home com­plete, the Cana­dian Timberframes team got ready for con­struc­tion — all with the ini­tial dream in the back of their minds. “In this area of the coun­try, peo­ple will leave Toronto on a Fri­day evening and drive to their cot­tage to spend their week­end with fam­ily and friends,” says Stephanie. “Although a bit more ex­pan­sive than what some might con­sider a ‘cot­tage,’ that feel­ing of a gath­er­ing place is still the same and, in this case, that feel­ing had a big im­pact on the de­sign.”

Check out the Au­gust 2018 is­sue of Tim­ber Home Liv­ing to read more about the next phase of the jour­ney: break­ing ground and con­struc­tion. Log on to tim­ber­home­liv­ to see bonus pho­tos, video footage and more!

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