Abbey Westlake, a real estate agent, and Andrew Peycha, an artist, bought their “grandma special” of a bungalow in Collingwood, Ont., for $341,141. The couple largely tackled the renovations themselves, and for three months of construction, lived in an RV in their backyard with their 12-year-old son Rory and their two dogs. Two years and $275,000 later, and the once old-fashioned 1,100-square-foot house with little rooms and low ceilings bears no resemblance to its former self. Ample white space, judicious hits of splashy artwork and repurposed wood elements make this airy, minimalist home a joy to behold. It’ll have you de-cluttering in your own home! Enjoy this video tour of the bungalow that showcases the power of letting spaces breathe.
With its red brick and cedar detailing, the exterior of Abbey and Andrew’s bungalow is as sharp as its interior. It was once covered in unsightly stucco, which the couple chipped off over two and a half months. They also did the sides and back of the house in Shou Shugi Ban siding, a black Japanese charred-wood technique.
Related: How a Toronto Couple Created a Cozy Farmhouse Escape Just Outside of Collingwood
Andrew’s artwork beautifies the bungalow throughout. In the principal bedroom, one of his landscape oil paintings serves as an exquisite sliver of a headboard. “The bedroom is” cozy and tight and deliberately simple,” says Abbey. “When there’s no clutter in a house, you have the mental head space to feel calm.”
Room With a View
After sweeping open the breezy full-length curtains, Abbey and Andrew wake to a peaceful, forested backyard. For graphic punch, all of the windows in the house are black inside and out.
The White House
The entire house is painted Benjamin Moore’s Frostine. The fresh, white backdrop is ideal for the couple’s splashy collection of artwork. Here’s Abbey and Andrew’s ensuite, where family photos are displayed on a simple dresser. “Our first home had more decor,” says Abbey, a devoted minimalist. “I hate buying it and cleaning it, and now appreciate having money for other things.”
The principal bathroom has a vanity from IKEA and 4×4-foot grey floor tile. They’re classic choices that won’t date fast, says Abbey, plus “the tile is easy to clean” (less grout, less hassle). A cute footed vase with a yellow band holds an aloe vera plant; its splayed fronds hit a sculptural note. Abbey’s less-is-more approach means each item in the house, down to bathroom plant, gets its turn in the spotlight.
“Subway tile is timeless and the simplicity won’t go out of style,” says Abbey, which speaks to her home’s entire ethos. The black grout lends subtle definition and plays off the shower window and black plumbing fixtures.
Eucalyptus hangs in the couple’s shower. The aromatic leaves emit a pungent scent when wet that clears a stuffy nose, and is refreshing in general. This entire house is clean and calm down to the air!
Related: The Best Indoor Plants for Every Room in Your House
The couple’s 12-year-old son Rory seems to have inherited his parents’ love of vintage things. His great grandfather’s tool box, that once held art supplies, is a unique little piece beside his bed for books. Colourful pendants from the local ReStore are suspended over his bed – Rory chose them himself. The Bay blanket adds a dose of colour, and the painting of the camper van is by artist, Jon Houghton, a family friend.
Simple and Soothing
Abbey and Andrew’s son Rory mainly uses this second bathroom, which is smaller than theirs, but has the same cohesive material palette, down to the subway tile. The tiny vanity is from IKEA. Rory painted the dinosaur pottery, which adds a pop of vivid colour to the room.
Step Right Up
The rear portion of the bungalow is sunken. “It might have been a duplex in the past,” says Abbey. “When we exposed everything, it seemed like there was a back and front living area.” To gain headroom – Andrew is 6″3 and could touch the ceiling with the palm of his hand before the renovation – they bumped up the ceiling and covered the ugly beam in hemlock.
Both rustic and elegant, the dining area is plain perfection. “The table is made from hemlock wood that was found in the house,” says Abbey, and plays off the window sills, which are also repurposed old hemlock. The black benches were built by their friend Rod Bennett. The landscape painting of Loree Forest in Collingwood is another one of Andrew’s inviting works.
Wispy branches in a large black vase cast a mesmerizing silhouette in the dining area, almost like the flames of a fire. The simple scene is breathtaking against the bare windows,
A terrazzo island overhang from Italy adds funky pattern to the kitchen. To keep the sightlines open, Abbey eschewed upper cabinets in favour of white walls – ideal for showcasing art, including her own. She painted the daisies. The tomato red vintage phone doesn’t work but is a cool bit of eye candy. “We bought the swimsuit piece at The Ojibway Club in Point au Baril,” says Abbey.
Roller Derby Floors
Not many people can say their floors are from a roller derby rink in Iowa. “An older man in London, Ont., had been storing them for 20 years. We had to plane each board individually and then a contractor lay down the floor,” says Abbey. At only $1 per square foot, the effort was worth it for real – and real cool – retro wood.
The IKEA island has drawers for cutlery, kitchen utensils and pots and pans. Adding that terrazzo countertop really gives it a custom look!
The black band behind the oven is a bold focal point in the minimalistic kitchen. “It’s a piece of metal that’s easy to clean and it matches the fireplace,” says Abbey.
Related: From Kitchens to Living Rooms: Minimalist Design Style Ideas, Room By Room
A texturally rich “bone chain” accentuates a corner in the high-ceilinged kitchen. “Those are pieces of pottery,” explains Abbey of the installation by local artist Stephen Corner. Stephen work consists of both sculptural and functional ware that’s often inspired by nature.
The family are minimalists down to their groceries. “That’s a smaller-than-average European fridge,” says Abbey of the slim, 21-inch-wide fridge concealed behind the grainy-wood door. They built a handy wine cubby above it. A hallway leads to the bedrooms and the rear of the house.
Related: 10 Stylish, Subtle Ways to Hide Your Kitchen Appliances
Cozy and cottage-like, the living room holds a large, linen sectional from Leon’s. “I scored it after doing a scratch-and-win discount thing and got 20% off,” says Abbey. Everything else, except for the rug, are secondhand finds. Abbey snapped up the coffee table on FB Marketplace (it used to be in a ski chalet in Blue Mountain). The vintage wood cabinet in the corner adds a warm woodsy note.
A cast-iron wood-burning Jotul fireplace cozies up a corner of the living room. Though they did lots of the work in the house themselves, the couple called in a professional for this job. An old apple-orchard ladder holds blankets for extra-cold winter nights.
Light and Airy
Though only 1,100 square feet, the bungalow feels exceptionally airy and spacious. Its beauty arises from the couple’s extraordinary restraint when it comes to decor and only bringing pieces into the home that they truly love. Case in point: the midcentury-modern dresser under the TV that Abbey scored off of FB Marketplace.
The wood-burning fireplace adds a quintessential cottage vibe in the home. The metal on the floor matches the strip behind the range in the kitchen.
Related: A Professional Organizer Turns Her Talents to Her Own Apartment With Amazing Results
Abbey’s got a great eye – she picked up this colourful fish tapestry in town at the ReStore. It would get lost in a cluttered, jumbled room but looks amazing over the log holder.
One of Andrew’s stunning oil paintings brightens up the kitchen, and is perfectly situated by the light-filled window. So, how does an artist’s house look so order? “Andrew paints at the Tremont Studios,” says Abbey of the art gallery/workspace in downtown Collingwood.
A quirky gent keeps watch on the windowsill. “My mother-in-law gave him to me,” says Abbey. “It’s a funny family thing. We give gnomes to each other on occasion.”
HGTV your inbox.