The cottage: A work in progressPublished on June 27, 2012

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  • The infamous carved paddle.

  • The exterior is board and batten siding in Behr Mountain Spruce.

  • The cottage before.

  • The cottage before.

  • The exterior is board and batten siding in Behr Mountain Spruce.

  • A screened-in porch is a cottage must-have.

  • The new kitchen is by Ashton Kitchens.

  • The corner office.

  • The stunning setting and view sold the property.

Dean Caillier offers this expert advice on renovating an old cottage: "Tear it down!" These words of wisdom come after his years of working to renovate and build onto an existing cabin, which is situated on a heavily wooded property with a breathtaking view of Lac Bernard.

With his wife Colleen, Dean bought the place nine years ago and they have been working on it ever since. Luckily, as an architectural designer and owner of Tree House Design Inc., Dean knows what he is doing. But as a father of three daughters, with a budget that didn't allow for a tear -down project, the need for space in a hurry overshadowed that always annoying fifty-fifty hindsight.

Sage Advice

When asked the pros and cons of starting from scratch, Dean offers this sage advice: "It's more bucks but arguably better spent because, much like renovating a house, you spend so much time reworking the existing and trying to fix the old. Building from scratch can offer so many more options and more value."

None of this wisdom played into Dean's own ongoing cottage project. The Cailliers cleared trees, added three bedrooms plus a bathroom, and spruced up the original cabin to create a traditional cottage feel - which they may not have achieved had they torn down and started from scratch. Their new kitchen blends in beautifully with the original cabin updates, and the central island is big enough to function as both eating and work space.

The finest feature is the view. It sweeps into the main living space with windows that open across the front of the cottage, bringing the outside in and striking the perfect natural balance.

Let the Good Times Roll

For many cottagers, the continuous process of updating an old cottage property is a big part of the enjoyment. Perhaps even as much as a relaxing beer or wine on the dock, which can only taste better after a little hard work.

Last year for Father's Day, one of his daughters carved a paddle for Dean with the words "Gettin' there" engraved on it. This is Dean's standard line when he is asked how the cottage is coming along - and one he just might be saying for quite a while as working on the cottage can be life-long project. On the plus side, many believe it is also a great stress reliever . . .

Contact Dean at 613-729-1153, www.designbytreehouse.com.




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