When Anita inherited her father’s Muskoka cottage, it was bittersweet. Her dad had come from Europe and built the waterfront property himself, but now he’s unwell and unable to care for it. So Anita and her son, Marco, agreed to take it on. To pay for the property and upkeep, however, they needed to create an income opportunity. So they called up Scott McGillivray, designer Debra Salmoni and the Vacation House Rules team for help. See how they transform this rental into a European Villa worthy of a $1,000-per-night price tag.
A Bright New Exterior
At first glance, this cottage felt clean and taken care of thanks to Anita and Marco’s efforts. However, the elongated exterior wall also felt one-dimensional and outdated and was in need of a big facelift in order to increase curb appeal. So Scott and Debra gave the exterior new white siding and built out this portico that adds character and additional outdoor living space.
Lazy Summer Days
On the deck of the portico Scott and Debra created a cozy outdoor living space where guests can wait to greet other guests, or people can sit outside and have an intimate conversation. The wood furniture feels modern when paired with the black trim and white siding, some extra throw pillows and greenery helps set those outdoor vibes.
Inside, the main living area boasts tons of worldly finishes that invoke that European mood. There are plenty of rich wood elements and colours to draw the eye, but it still feels light thanks to the new white walls. Meanwhile, the original beams above have been refinished to pay homage to the man who started it all when he built this property back in the 1970s.
A Modern Fireplace
This new fireplace is updated, sleek and functional thanks to the electric design, but it still feels like it could be straight out of a European tavern. The bricks work with the rest of the design to ground the living room and immediately draw interest, but we especially love the new mantle, which Scott found underneath the deck and was a part of the original build.
When Old Meets New
In the kitchen, Scott and Debra continued the European villa vibes with a bright and updated kitchen that boasts modern elements (new stainless steel appliances, a large island with a sink). They then added European-inspired pieces like the candle-bulb chandeliers. Meanwhile, undermount lights below the cabinets and pot lights above add extra brightness for when the sun begins to set.
In order to add even more personality to the space while staying on theme, Debra sourced these timeless tiles to tie the upper and lower cabinets together. The pops of grey tie in with all of the black accents here and in the living room, but the overall look is still light and polished.
Continuing the Theme
In one of the new bathrooms, Scott and Debra kept the patterns going with these similar tiles, which also offer texture and continuity. They’re a nice contrast against the smaller shower tiles and are modern but also feel like they belong in a European spa — one with a very rich and interesting history.
A Luxe Getaway
In another completed bathroom, Scott and Debra installed a stand-up shower with simple but luxe finishes you’d want in a rental, like the dark trim on the glass or the shelves just outside the door. A couple of hooks and a rich wood vanity with a gold mirror and updated vanity light complete the European hotel-inspired look.
Outside, Scott repurposed the deck and updated it to make it safer for renters (especially renters with children). Clear glass panels keep the sightlines clean while the black and white finishes sync up with the rest of the design. An outdoor dining table, some rugs, and potted greenery add coziness and easily extend the overall living space.
Adding the Extras
Down by the water, Scott and Debra made use of the flat space and created another lounge area. The real draw is this outdoor oven, which comes with swinging racks so guests can easily grill and barbecue. It also doubles as a fireplace, one in which the smoke goes up and exits so it never bothers the guests. All of these new finishes combined with the in-demand Muskoka waterfront location mean Anita can easily charge renters $1,000 a night, keeping her father’s legacy in the family and funded for many years to come.