Darlene and James originally bought their Northern Ontario vacation house as a spot for their family to unwind and make memories in. Now that the kids are grown, however, they’re ready to look at retiring in the spot. Before that, they want to capitalize on their property and rent it out for some extra income. So they called up Scott McGillivray, designer Debra Salmoni and the Vacation House Rules team for help. See how they transform this property into a bird-themed Northern getaway that stands out in any listing.
A Cozy Living Space
Darlene and James have a beautiful view, but before the reno, their large furniture faced away from it. Now, in the new living room area, everything works around that view. There’s size-appropriate furniture and lots of seating, along with a new electric fireplace that’s easy to use and gives off heat when needed, but still feels like an original piece thanks to the stone finishes and mantel.
A Blue Kitchen
Birds were the inspiration behind this Northern getaway design and that’s especially apparent in the kitchen. The new cupboards are a robin’s egg blue while the island is a deeper Blue Jay hue. Then, the wood stools and ceiling beams add that natural finish to tie it all together. Meanwhile the oversized island is perfect for renters looking for a large communal space to snack and congregate at.
A Primary Retreat
In the new primary bedroom, Scott and Debra ensured there was a luxe king-sized bed and calming vibes. After all, when you’re headed to a getaway, relaxation should be your only concern. There’s also a walkout to the Muskoka room (ideal for a morning coffee watching the sun come up over the water), while light curtains add decor and a little privacy.
The Cardinal Room
Each of the remaining three bedrooms got a makeover inspired by an Ontario bird. Here, Debra and Scott made use of “the fifth wall,” a.k.a. the ceiling, to add a pop of colour and to create the cardinal room look. Simple wallpaper then serves as a feature wall and on-theme art adorns the rest of the space.
The Goldfinch Room
Simple pops of yellow help this bedroom stand out, especially against the other grey and black accents that add modernity and design appeal. The room is functional for renters since it still sleeps two people, but it too feels like a calming retreat where you can relax and unwind at the end of the day.
The Blue Jay Room
This fun, kid-friendly room feels more like a playroom with sleepover potential than an actual bedroom. That’s partially because of the bright décor, but there’s also a ton of floor space where kids can stretch out and do their thing. As for the bunk beds, they’re in line with Scott’s “heads in beds” rule, especially since the bottom bunk can actually sleep two people.
A Green Bathroom
You can’t have a getaway inspired by nature without a little green. This new bathroom space is full of it thanks to the rich, painted shiplap walls that feel both modern and calming. There’s also a wood element thanks to the double vanity, and the large walk-in shower is perfect for quick rinses following a dip in the lake.
The New Exterior
Even the outside of this cottage rental got a bit of a facelift thanks to the dark new siding, black window trim and a new portico, which adds both design appeal and practicality during bad weather. This new look sets the tone as soon as vacationers arrive, adding a ton of curb appeal that just didn’t exist before.
Extending the Indoor Space
Before, this Muskoka room had potential but it needed work — you couldn’t even access it from the inside of the cottage and you had to go around to get in. Now, it feels like a natural extension of the space thanks to the fresh paint and finishes. Renters can still enjoy the outdoors when the weather dips or it gets too buggy outside, extending the overall season for Darlene and James.
New Outdoor Entertaining
When you’re renting a cottage the odds are you want to hang out outside. That’s why Scott and Debra added little extras to the large deck such as the portable cooler, comfy seating and outdoor area rugs. Add in a new outdoor dining table towards the back and it’s the perfect outdoor entertaining space. Now, Darlene and James can rent this place out for $715 per night during the busy season, pushing them one step closer to their Northern getaway retirement dreams.