Ryan Harkin and Blair Cox were on the hunt for a cottage they could transform into an in-demand getaway. Then the couple found this property on Redstone Lake in 2018. “With its breathtaking views, we knew it was the ‘one,'” says Ryan. Its 1,500-square-foot interior, however, was less than breathtaking. Step one: gut it. Step two: furnish it to be both contemporary and Canadiana.
Into the Woods
Immersed deep in a hilly forest and set 120 steps above Haliburton’s pristine Redstone Lake, The Birchwood Cottage is a calming and rustic antidote to city life – but not too rustic. Wait until you see the haute-boho interior.
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The vibrant living area invites the eye to wander thanks in part to symmetrical furnishings (those lamps! the mirrors!), colourful accents and a mix of tactile fabrics, including the tan leather sofa from CB2. It’s a genius choice that’s easy to clean, complements the rich warm tones of the elm floors and just gets better with age. The moose head was originally white, but Ryan gave it a coat of Canadiana red.
The view from the loft bedroom showcases the cottage’s overall colour scheme of white walls contrasted with black trim. The natural knotty pine ceilings keep the look rustic. Ryan and Blair loved the generous scale of the Restoration Hardware coffee table and sanded down its original dark finish to expose the natural wood. The wood stove came with the cottage – the red maple leaves are new accents.
The main deck off the living room is a perfect place to take in the view of Redstone Lake. We love the punchy colours of the chairs against the natural wood and how simple checked cushions lend a fresh and comfy touch.
Ahead of the Curves
“We wanted fixtures that were warm and intimate for dining, but spare enough not to block the open-concept view,” says Ryan of the dining area‘s Crate and Barrel pendant lights. We like how these sculptural beauties reference the curved-back dining chairs and the round furnishings in the living area.
This whimsical vignette embodies the cottage owners’ vision for the property: it needed to feel very Canadian (red and white canoe paddles with maple leafs do the trick) and still contemporary (layer in three graphic black woven candle holders and you’re done).
In terms of aesthetics, the Artemano dining table is a heavy-hitter – literally. Made of solid acacia logs – it weighs 700 pounds! “We loved it because it reminded us of a picnic-style table, but with a contemporary edge,” says Ryan. The black wishbone-style chairs complement the wood trim around the windows, while the rattan seats keep the look natural.
Black and White
may not be the first choice for a cottage, but Ryan thinks they should be. “They hide scuffs so are very forgiving, blend in nicely with the dark appliances and are more interesting than an expected lighter colour.” They also tie in with the black accents in the living and dining areas for cool continuity. We like the backsplash’s mix of horizontal and herringbone tiles.
The black kitchen cabinetry is given some breathing space thanks to these very rustic-looking open shelves that are from Restoration Hardware. Greenery in moose-print mugs is a fun styling element.
Related: This Eco-Conscious Montreal Home Definitely Isn’t Afraid of Colour
A Case for Contrast
Painting the staircase the same black as the trim was a game changer – imagine it white and the energy is lost. Fluffy black cushions invigorate vintage-looking armchairs that flank a whimsical metallic stump-style table (look closely to see a portrait of Bailey, the owners’ beloved Labrador Retriever).
All of the cottage’s wood wall panelling, including here in the main floor bathroom, was salvaged from the same barn in Quebec. “We had it brushed to remove nails and splinters then oiled to our liking,” says Ryan. It cultivates a cottage vibe that’s given a contemporary edge by cool encaustic floor tiles, black hardware and a luxurious marble-topped vanity.
Light-hearted accessories from Haliburton’s Lockside Trading Company are pure fun and maintain the Canadiana quotient in the cottage’s front bedroom. They wanted the room to have a “slightly less mature, more playful feel,” says Ryan.
Against the Grain
A mashup of wood – from the vintage salvaged barn boards on the wall to the new dresser – packs a stylish punch in this bedroom (even in the doggy bed on the floor). Black hardware and trim complement the TV, making it seem more like a piece of art.
Do not call this screened-in beauty a Muskoka room! “It’s the Haliburton room,” says Ryan. “It’s the best place to play games on a rainy day.” We love the woven lamp shade. The decked area just beyond it looks out to the property’s acreage and features a firepit.
The bright seating on the deck by the lake was colour-coordinated to match the Hudson’s Bay beach towels in the house.
Hot in Here
In addition to all of its outdoor seating and lounging areas, the property also boasts a deck with a year-round hot tub. Plexiglass panels at the front of the deck keep the view to the water unimpeded.
A metal-top puts a contemporary spin on a picnic-style table. This is the upper deck’s dining area and preferred spot for lunch barbecues.
There are two decked areas at lake level. “One is a sitting platform that makes you feel as though you’re floating on the lake and the other leads to the dock where there are kayaks, paddle boards and a pedal boat.”
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