The words "This is the Life" hang on the wall of a beautiful new summer home in the Rideau Lakes. And it certainly is for the owners who have built an idyllic retreat on a private island that has been a summer haven for generations of their Ottawa family.
As parents of two young children, the couple wanted a cottage that was big enough to grow with them for years to come and function for their future grandchildren. With five bedrooms, spacious living spaces, plus all the bells and whistles of any new house, the cottage could easily be a second home for year-round living. Yet, it permeates with the true essence of a seaside summer home.
It's not surprising that the feel of the East Coast breezes through the cottage style and design, as one of the owners has roots in Nova Scotia. With a vision of a cottage on the north shore of NS, the couple had plans drawn up by Ottawa architect Barry Hobin. He has designed other family cottages on the island and knew instinctively how to shape their ideas into a structure that worked for the site and maximized full use and views of the waterfront.
The summer home replaces a former 100-year-old cottage and was built by John Riley Construction. John has also worked on different cottages on the island over the years, and is credited with being able to read the minds of his clients. In return, he praises the meticulous thought that went into the project and mentions a few excellent features that particularly impress him.
"The folding and sliding glass doors that go from the kitchen and dining area to the screened porch are awesome. It makes the space feel like one big room." John adds that the stone fireplace and the Weatherwall system in the porch are clever touches that are perfect for cool evenings and extend the use of the room.
EASY INDOOR TO OUTDOOR LIVING
To call the vast screened-in room a porch is a little misleading. It functions as a stylish, all-season great room with an A-frame ceiling, slate flooring and lower walls lined with cedar shingles to mimic the exterior finish. The Weatherwall system consists of panels that close over the screened windows to protect against wet, cold and windy conditions.
Two wood-burning stone fireplaces bookend the main floor from one end to the other and, with the glass doors open, the gigantic area transitions almost magically from indoor to outdoor living. The decorative ceiling beams also work to provide a base to hang unique lighting fixtures and old-style fans on a pulley system, which were inspired by a trip to the Bahamas.
A well-planned lighting scheme was designed throughout the home by Marc Letellier of LWG Architectural Interiors. It allows for a variety of practical uses and changes of ambience, with chandeliers that can be dimmed for candlelight dinners or to enjoy the glow of the fire. Pot lights provide highlighting effects and LED lights shine in the recessed coved sections of the peaked ceilings.
The quiet charm of the home is continued with bringing in natural and environment-friendly materials such as reclaimed wood from the Ottawa River for most of the main level flooring. Limestone covers the basement floor and basket-weave granite is featured in the main bathroom to platform the stunning soaker tub under the picture window.
An open-concept kitchen design flows into the indoor and outdoor living spaces with unobstructed views of the lake. Combined with the splendid slate-grey Muskoka Kitchen cabinetry, high-end appliances and a long island with a sit-up counter, cooking for the family never seems like a chore.
For more casual get-togethers, the stone fire-pit surrounded by colourful Muskoka chairs is a favourite gathering spot. It evokes fond memories of big fires by the ocean, and the couple continue the tradition of inviting family and friends to bring guitars to play and sing around the fire to prolong the warmth and fun of a long summer evening.
Yes, the owners agree that they have created the serene summer life that we all want to live. With their special touches and collected treasures that hint at East Coast influences, both inside and out, you can almost smell the sea on the shores of the lake.