Cindy and Sean knew there was some major history to tap into when it came to their 150-year-old cabin on Sparrow Lake, and with the couple newly retired they were looking to use some of that history to create a memorable rental property. Unfortunately, the Simcoe County, Ont. lodge needed a bit of sprucing up in order to nab a desirable rental rate. That’s where Scott McGillivray and designer Debra Salmoni stepped in to save the day. See how they created the ultimate highland lodge that’s true to the original structure — but with tons of amazing upgrades!
Updating the Original
Scott knew he was working with a special property with decades of history and he wanted that history to remain intact. So he upgraded the home with modern finishes where it made sense, while keeping the original structure intact. Out front some of the new additions included a statement entrance with new steps, welcoming plants, and a bold front door.
Making an Entrance
Before, the front entrance of this house felt very cramped and tight. There was barely enough room to put your shoes on, let alone store any extra clothing or outdoor gear. With a bit of clever reconfiguration, Scott managed to transform this entranceway into a bright area that makes use of every possible inch of space.
Repositioning the Kitchen
In order to make the kitchen more functional and updated, Scott moved the sink to the window and made use of lower cabinet storage. Not only is it a better flow, but the oversized sink and black hardware feel modern and luxe. Add in a sleek countertop and a bit of greenery for decoration and this is totally a space you wouldn’t mind doing dishes in.
A Room With a View
In the Muskoka room, Scott made great use of the natural light with some fresh paint and on-theme pieces of red furniture that add practical character to the space. Above, the white ceiling helps reflect that sunlight, while the darker pieces of furniture keep the look grounded and rich—just like in the highlands.
Space to Dine
Odds are if you’re renting out a lodge with multiple bedrooms, you’ve got a few people you plan on bringing along. That’s why Scott and Debra brought in this elongated dining room table, to add plenty of comfortable seating for everyone. The red chairs pair perfectly with the natural wood table, while the light fixture above adds even more highland lodge ambiance.
Cozying Up At the Cottage
What’s a cozy lodge without a natural fireplace? Scott and Debra left this original 19th century stone fireplace as is to help preserve some of the room’s charm. Meanwhile, the original wood panels on the wall remain preserved and intact, adding even more character. Add in a desk (because you’d be surprised at how many people want to get a little work done on their vacation), and this is a purposeful but charming space.
Loading Up This Rental
Does this laundry room boast the nicest view ever? Quite possibly. But at least you’ve got something to look at while folding. Even vacationers need to do laundry, especially if they’re planning on an extended stay. This updated laundry room space makes use of the elongated wall while adding lots of storage and keeping the sightlines clean.
Designing a True Retreat
You want space in a primary bedroom, sure. But this primary bedroom was beyond large. So Scott and Debra reconfigured it into a primary retreat, one that’s separate from the rest of the home and allows one couple to have a cozy little area all to themselves. There’s a sitting area, a wet bar with a fridge and a coffee station for those lazy mornings, not to mention this brilliant walk-out to the newly updated outdoor space.
Extended the Outdoor Space
When you’re renting a lodge or cottage in Ontario, the outdoor space is just as important as the rental itself. That’s why Scott and Debra updated the back deck and the accompanying gazebo, which used to feature an outdated bathroom. The new door matches the property’s newly installed front door, creating continuous character throughout.
An Outdoor Bathing Retreat
Rather than turning the gazebo into something else, Scott and Debra upgraded what was already there—with lots of breezy finishes that are perfect for a lakeside rental. Now, renters can use this space to clean off or freshen up while enjoying their time outside, without tracking in dirt or water to the lodge. It’s just another brilliant finish that adds value while keeping the original design intact, upping Sean and Cindy’s rental potential to an impressive $600 per night during the high season.