(images by GB Heintzman Construction)


Does anything encapsulate the Canadian dream better than the cottage? There is nothing more relaxing to us than being surrounded by Canada’s natural wooded landscapes and sparkling lake water. Even though many of us share this love for the cottage, everyone’s vision of their ideal cottage is unique. Some have a yearning for a rustic log cabin and others a modern, clean-lined structure. What is your vision of “the cottage”?


Your individual vision will set your process on its own unique path. The first consideration should be whether you will purchase a fixer-upper or start fresh with a new build. Knowing this at the beginning of the process is helpful not just to your realtor, but to you as you develop your design plan.


Although there are many paths along the decision tree, some considerations will come up no matter which way you veer. I suggest you keep the following in mind. 

1. ‘No Fuss Spaces’


Are the goal. Your cottage kitchen is a perfect example.

Make clean ups a breeze with a large prep area so everyone can get involved to get the job done. Easy to maintain, hard wearing surfaces are what you need. Forgiving brushed finishes on fixtures will avoid stains, smudges and watermarks.


2. Plan for the buggy season


A screened in porch or dining area is a godsend when the black flies are out! Everyone wants to spend the majority of the time outdoors, but no one is a fan of pesky bugs. Plan for 3 (or 4) seasons at your cottage with a large glass or screened-in area.


3. Room for guests at the table


As guests come to visit, you will be grateful for extra room at the dining table. When choosing a table, look for a distressed finish that will withstand a bit of abuse. An extra deep table lends itself to family style dining with room for serving platters to share. Opt for long benches which can seat more while taking up less space than individual chairs.


4. Make room for rainy day fun


You might think you don’t need much indoor space because all the fun happens down at the dock until a series of rainy days roll in. Having a separate Muskoka room means you can contain the chaos and kids can let loose around a board game (yes, they still play those) while you enjoy some grown up time curled up with a good book.


5. A retreat for guests


What’s not to love about a bunkie? Private lodging for guests makes for everyone’s comfort. Sleeping for 2 to 4 extra guests brings an ease to hosting while providing a bit of privacy for peaceful sleeping.


6. Entertainment


Never-ending days in and on the water, and sipping drinks on the dock are the stu  of cottage memories. But weather can mess up your plans. Be ready to bring the fun inside just in case. Some extra board games and books will come to the rescue!


7. Dependable upholstery


Who wants to worry about spills at the cottage?

Outdoor fabrics are gaining popularity for indoor use now that they have improved so much. Pick forgiving neutral colours or consider opting for washable slip-covers and you’ll never have to worry about a spill.


8. Durable materials


This isn’t the time to get precious with materials.

A lot can be accomplished with a creative flourish to make the most of simple material selections, but hard working options should lead the way. This is extremely important for flooring and countertops that will take the most abuse.


9. Layered bedding


A matelasse? coverlet or a light quilt is the perfect foundation layer for a summer night.

It is light-weight but adds a bit of warmth when the nights are cooler. Add a wool blanket for chillier nights, and a comforter if you plan to visit late into the fall or have a year round cottage. It will be so cozy!


10. Consider your outdoor space


This is where the living will really take place.

Seating at various spots around your site will allow for group bonfires and for quiet reading. Having some blankets and cushions for outside will make it all the more comfortable.



Judith TaylorFounder & Principal Designer of Judith Taylor Designs

Judith Taylor is the founder of Judith Taylor Designs, an award winning design firm based in Toronto that transforms clients homes into personal and meaningful spaces. She loves art, colour, pattern, coulture, details and most of all she loves to be inspired by what you love. 


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