Before and After: How this quaint Muskoka cottage transformed into a luxury vacation spot

Before and After: How this quaint Muskoka cottage transformed into a luxury vacation spot

Goodbye cabin vibes, old furniture and dark colours. Hello Scandinavian design, striking pieces and white everywhere

The place

A 2,000-square-foot four-season cottage on Lake Joseph, in Port Carling, with four bedrooms and three baths. Built in 2018, it was purchased and renovated in 2020 by the current owner, who intended to rent it out as a vacation property.

The designers

The cottage was in great condition, but it had a slightly dated interior. So the owner hired Andrea Pierre and Keri MacLellan from Toronto studio Westgrove to modernize it and give it a high-end hotel feel. Pierre and MacLellan had worked on the redesign of the June Motel in both Sauble Beach and Prince Edward County as well as Calabogie’s Somewhere Inn. 

The strategy

For this property, the designers married Scandinavian with Californian. “There’s Nordic minimalism along with high-contrast black and white,” Pierre explains. “We looked to Swedish and Norwegian cottage design for inspiration.” They installed pine shiplap walls throughout the interior, covering up the standard drywall finish, to add some personality to the space. And they integrated natural textures through light fixtures, rugs and furniture. The redesign turned out so well that the owner decided to keep the place all to himself instead of renting it out.

The exterior

The outside was originally painted blue with a yellow door, but Pierre and MacLellan opted for a more modern black. They also replaced the deck’s side railings with glass to allow for unobstructed views of the lake.

The foyer

Here’s the main entrance, which opens up into the lower level. The bench, from Restoration Hardware, is for shoe removal, and there are hooks on the wall for coats. The art is by Christine Flynn of Prince Edward County.

The kitchenette

Just past the front entrance is what used to be a storage and electrical room, now a kitchenette. Pierre and MacLellan hid all of the wiring and then built out a galley-style kitchen with a sink, an integrated fridge, a coffee maker and open shelving. “If you’re sitting on the dock and need a drink, you can come here instead of going all the way upstairs,” Pierre says.

The basement lounge

Beyond the kitchenette is this hangout spot with an oversized chandelier from LD Shoppe. The designers added a sectional and a coffee table, both from Restoration Hardware. Floor plants from Dynasty warm up all the white.

The dining room

Upstairs, there’s an open-concept living room, dining room and kitchen with a vaulted ceiling and stunning views of the lake. The dining table is customized from Muskoka Living (with its legs inset so that people can sit comfortably at either end). The chairs were upholstered with contrasting fabrics on the seat and back.

The living room

Here’s a closer look at the living room. It’s a narrow space, so Pierre and MacLellan opted for a smaller two-seat sofa that is extra deep. The coffee table is from Sundays.

The kitchen

The team removed the upper cabinets in the kitchen, replacing them with open white-oak shelving for an airier feel. “It really opens up the space,” says Pierre. They also sourced the same granite material as the countertop to add a matching backsplash. The pendants above the island, from Pinch, are made of paper linen. There’s also a new gas range and a wine fridge (the client is a big wine collector). The stools, from Stowed, have leather seats and backs.

The powder room

Here, Pierre and MacLellan went moody by painting the shiplap a dark graphite-navy hue from Farrow and Ball. They also ordered a custom white-oak vanity with a concrete sink and a wall-mounted faucet. The new mirror is from Rejuvenation.

The main bedroom

The designers removed doors from one of the closets to add a built-in dresser. The sliding doors lead to a wrap-around patio. 

The ensuite

Pierre and MacLellan upgraded this bathroom’s existing vanity by painting it in a sage green. The room’s porcelain tile flooring was replaced with a black mosaic marble, which is heated.

The second bedroom

This bedroom looks out to the dock. By reorienting the bed, the team was able to fit a king instead of a queen. The lamps are from Muskoka Living, and the art is by Cath Laporte of Montreal.

The third bedroom

This is the smallest bedroom. Pierre and MacLellan added wood detailing via a white-oak dresser from EQ3 and wood side tables. That wall sconce is from West Elm.

The patio

The original deck was narrow, so they widened it to fit a full outdoor dining table. There’s also a lounge area with furniture from Restoration Hardware.

The dock

The old dock had a boat slip in the middle of it, but Pierre and MacLellan rebuilt it as one large plateau, ideal for relaxing with friends. It’s equipped with a full-sized dining table, sun loungers and outdoor sofas from Andrew Richard Design, with Tuuci sun umbrellas.

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