DOES RUSTIC HAVE TO MEAN ROUGH? COLIN AND JUSTIN, WHO REFUSE TO SLUM IT, SAY NO. HERE’S THEIR GUIDE TO LUXING UP YOUR CABIN TO CREATE THE ULTIMATE, ESCAPIST RETREAT…
by COLIN MCALLISTER + JUSTIN RYAN
OF THE 35 MILLION PEOPLE who reside in Canada, approximately 6 million own (or have familial access to) a cottage. And that cottage will be visited, on average, by 17.2 people (family and friends) each year.
Appraising these figures (courtesy of Blue Ant Media, owners of Cottage Life TV) it’s fair to suggest that cottaging has become a wildly popular pastime for urbanites who long for a furtive dalliance with Mother Nature. So, you’d better hope your guest accommodation is up to the challenge: because plus ça change…
Aye, the days have long gone since cottages, cabins and chalets (or however you choose to label your second home, according to geography) were little more than glorified storage vaults for old sofas, sideboards and carpets. On our watch, they’re valuable getaways, not just somewhere to stash the detritus that’s no longer needed in one’s principal residence.
Holiday homes, as we appraise them, certainly, should be joyous respites, places in which to discharge the stresses of an ever faster spinning world. Seriously: shouldn’t we all aspire to dispense with “one star” categorization and beckon in a “five star” experience at every turn? Come on….
But hold it: before Canada’s cottaging fraternity throws up its arms in defiant protest, we’re not advocating the removal of all things past, rather a considered edit of less important (and less attractive) items so that a modern, rewarding platform can become your happy reality.
So be brave: bid a fond farewell to dried flowers, kitsch wallpaper, brown tiled kitchen counters and flock detailed, wolf depicting artwork (“What a howl” said nobody in recent times) and prepare to move forward. Aye, if your cabin sucks, we insist you make it luxe…
REDISCOVER THE KITCHEN
We’ve long since advocated that the kitchen is the heart of the home and, in the rural context, this seems especially relevant. With fewer nearby restaurants and bars to populate, the cottage kitchen is likely to be an important congregation point for family, friends and neighbours.
But, of course, nobody wants to be shut away, so if possible – and in conjunction with a contractor and the local planning department – consider a little auspicious wall removal to create an open concept space. You know… one that provides the perfect stage upon which to showcase your Masterchef skills… while others gasp in veritable astonishment.
Proffer a luxurious feel with quartz counters. Canadian-made HanStone produces some of the market’s best choices (hanstone.ca), matching brand appliances and, if you have space, a separate dry larder filled with gastronomic flights of fancy. The food prep zone shown here is part of an impressive project built by Discovery Dream Homes (discoverydreamhomes.com) that amply demonstrates the way in which a fully fitted kitchen can blend into an overall scheme to create a prevailing sense of understated harmony. Remember: when it comes to rustic style, it’s generally best to whisper design rather than scream it from the cottage rafters.
YOU ARE THE SUNROOM OF MY LIFE
Critters and summer go hand in hand, with black flies and mosquitoes greedily snacking on cottagers across the delicious months of May, June and July. So be on guard: add a screened sunroom to provide a safe, breezy escape from entomological attack, whilst increasing seasonal living space (and shoring up real estate value) into the bargain.
What’s more, your new sunroom can be used to problem solve indoor needs. Maybe you crave a large dining room – or long for commodious living quarters – but internal square footage is frustratingly limited? Consider the Sunspace timber-framed masterpiece shown here (sunspacesunrooms.com). Multi-purpose, huh? At the end of the day, designating room function is up to you. We once constructed a screened room to serve as an indoor/outdoor gymnasium, and in doing so were able to run without the infernal buzzing of bugs as we worked out.
If your cottage is on a beautiful Canadian lake or set within a wonderful forest, but doesn’t offer floor to ceiling vistas, then perhaps amplifying its glazing quotient could make all the difference. Come on: embrace the view, don’t interrupt it. Updating fenestration won’t only flood your home with light, it’ll foster a greater connection to nature – whilst modernising your exterior – in one fell swoop. We’ve transformed many a cottage with custom glazing by industry leaders Euro Vinyl Windows (evw.ca). You get the gist, right? Yup, it’s time to open up the cottage. Permanently…
The preferred cottage aesthetic, these days, has morphed into an eminently less suburban and way more rustic vibe. Swan shaped, shiny brass taps have (thankfully) yielded to sexy steel, antique brass or matt black faucets (Rubinet offer a custom colour service – visit rubinet.com for further information) and the popularity of shower curtains has been displaced by metal framed “factory glass” style panels – try the Dreamline Toulon from Home Depot (homedepot.ca) to get the look. And don’t forget to add Warmup (warmup.ca) under floor heating, a barefoot luxury that more than comes into its own during colder climes.
Canadian men love to barbecue. Period. Let loose in cottage country, their meat-loving repertoire swells with the addition of smokers, pizza ovens and rotisseries. Consequently, a well-equipped outdoor kitchen has become a must-have for any self-respecting cook. This in mind, ensure yours boasts ample refrigeration, plenty of counter space and a convenient dining area so your meaty magic isn’t undermined by time in motion. Check out the heavy metal style of Napoleon’s “Oasis” modular kitchen (napoleon.com). Designed to complement your barbecue, it’s the perfect way in which to create an outdoor kitchen vibe on a somewhat moderated budget.
When it comes to wow factor – and the creation of useful outdoor space – there’s no better addition than a Western Red Cedar deck. Planned properly, the deck is just as important as any indoor room, so enhance yours even further with useful additions such as pergolas and gas fires. And the best news? A cedar deck can be left untreated – it greys beautifully – making it virtually maintenance-free. And hey, your conscience will be clear: Cedar forestation is amongst the timber industry’s most environmentally-managed and sustainable. What’s more, the evocative scent of the luxury lumber will serve as an everyday reminder that you’re outdoors in the great Canadian countryside. So, to get some good wood in your life, check out realcedar.com for inspiration.
SAY YA TO A SPA
Adding elements to enhance the good life will totally luxe up the cottage experience, making your holiday domain feel extra special. Consider adding an outdoor hot tub (or sauna) and make sure it can be used all year round. Can’t you just imagine sitting in a steaming tub as the snow filters down? Ah, luxury! And even more so when you stick that bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the white stuff to keep it perfectly chilled. Bliss! For the best in Canadian-made Cedar hot tubs visit canhottub.com and for barrel saunas check out Dundalk Leisure Craft (dundalkleisurecraft.com).
Think about this for a moment – shouldn’t vacations be somehow better than your day-to-day existence? And, in that regard, shouldn’t vacation homes (in theory) be even more rewarding than your regular abode in the city? Of course they should. So go on, start ramping up that respite reasoning, and have a luxury vacation, every damned weekend. Now doesn’t that sound like a plan?