Cottage Reno

New entrance at the cottage

July 21st, 2010

Juli and I must be putterers because we always seem to come up with more projects to do while we’re at the cottage. One thing that always bugged us was the entrance way. It’s the first thing you walk into when you enter the cottage and you’re greeted with yellow knotty pine, a terrible light fixture, and an exposed coat rack.

The first thing I did was paint everything white and replace the ugly glass ceiling fixture (which seems to make an appearance in every apartment in Toronto) with a simple ceramic fitting.

Note to self: We really need to replace that old brown metal door!

Juli has been taking Japanese dress making classes and now she has a lot of confidence with the sewing machine. She made this great gingham curtain to hide our jackets and shoes.

Another quick fix was this simple doormat and cast iron door stop by Makoto Koizumi.

It looks just like a river stone.

We put up a little coat rack behind the door for another place to hang stuff. You can never have too many hangers!

Here is a picture of how the entryway looked before. Even with the sunlight coming in, it was still really dark.

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Goodbye lattice, hello slatty

July 12th, 2010

By no means has this summer at the cottage been as busy as last year, but we’ve still been finding problems here and there that need to be taken care of. One thing we’ve been putting off for two years has been changing out the ugly lattice that runs along the side of the deck.

One of the big pushes for us was seeing how amazing Morgan’s (from the Brick House) slats turned out in front of her home!

The before…

The sliding door.

And the result!

I can’t believe it took us so long! For some reason we thought it was beyond our skill level, until Juli got fed up and demanded that we figure it out. It was a rough start at Home Depot, when we realized they didn’t really sell the size of slats we were looking for (and they don’t rip–cut along the grain–larger pieces). After circling the lumber department 5 times, we finally noticed some 1.5 inch thick slats of red cedar. It wasn’t the budget choice, but it was the only choice, and we figured that the savings we made not hiring someone were compensation enough. Plus, the cedar is gorgeous and these are like feature walls, so it ended up being beyond worth it.

The slats were spaced out 1.5 inches apart and by some divine grace the slats of the door actually line up perfectly.

By this point we gave each other a high-five, took a beer break, and admired our handy work.

After doing the first two, we knew we needed to finish the other side.

We got right to work. I was obviously dressed appropriately.

Another great transformation, another high five.

Next weekend, we’ll have new outdoor furniture, and hopefully some greenery for the deck too!

In other news, for dinner on Friday we had steamed clams!

Isha: I bring you mouse, you give me baguette. That’s how it works, right?


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Birch Trees!

June 28th, 2010

This weekend we were greeted with two new additions to our outdoor space up north (and a tidy yard, hooray!). The rain kept us all inside, but the new birch trees probably appreciated it.

Isha spotted this little critter whilst out on the deck. By the time I returned with the camera, Isha had retreated to the safety of the cottage. The wildlife approves.

This is the tree next to the deck. Much nicer than the butchered pine tree that was there before. I wish I had a photo of it, because all of its lower branches had been pruned off because they were dead, while the top half had an irregular hair cut because I had lazily tried to prune it a few years ago but could only reach so high. Ridiculousness ensued.

We had friends up Saturday and Sunday, and it mostly rained but today we had about 5 hours of sunshine. John painted the entryway, and I cleaned some more windows. Then we hopped in the lake for a dip with the rumble of imminent thunderstorms on the horizon.

Note to self: need new planters. South American style with iguanas emerging is not really fitting in with its northerly setting.

Skagerak teak planters, which we will fill with tall grasses. Better?

Considering all of the tornado warnings, and the recent touch downs and destruction of a nearby town, there was a little bit of concern. We packed up the car in preparation.

Considering the sketchiness of the above clouds, it was a relatively quick storm. Still, we’d had enough and hit the road.

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At the cottage with Isha

June 1st, 2010

Sunday night we were excited to head up north again. Now that Isha doesn’t have her brother to keep her company we decided to bring her with us! She was a very good girl the ride up and didn’t talk to much, I think she could tell by our body language that she wasn’t going to the vet. She quickly decided that the safari chair was hers to claim.

During our stay we stopped by a local antique market and picked up a vintage milk bottle with heart motifs. It reminds us of the enamel Kaj Franck bowls we have with the same heart motif.

I got around to installing the red Arne Jacobsen wall mounted bathroom fixtures. It’s hard to find toothbrushes that fit, since everything is so inflated these days – incidentally, these toothbrushes are made out of recycled yogurt cups and can be purchased at The Sweet Potato in the Junction. The soap holder on the right is a magnet and the soap has a bottle cap embedded into it. They’re very nautical and match the mirror perfectly.

We still need to find someone to install the Malm fireplace we got last year. those are all bags of cement sitting in it.

We also put up a broom and dustpan designed by Oji Masanori. We got to put it to use cleaning up some cat food, it worked great!

While we were hanging outside on the deck Isha would put her face to the screen and meow at us so we decided we would give her a chance (“this is your chance Isha, now don’t blow it”) and let her out onto the deck. The deck itself is gated and there weren’t that many possibilities for escape, but boy was she curious about the outside world. The best moment was when a moth flew by and she frolicked after it (not above, that is a leaf). Big paws strikes again!

And as always, our cat matches our style. Unfortunately for the white sofa.

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Cottage: Details

September 1st, 2009

First, let me just thank everyone who left a comment on our Cottage renovation reveal!

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We celebrated the completion of the cottage with some friends over the weekend. When we made it back to the city it dawned on us… This may have been the last weekend we’ll have up here this season. Of course we’ll have to board up the cottage at the end of the month so we’ll be able to say our goodbyes, but we took our last dip in Georgian Bay on Saturday. It’s quite sad, we spent so much time working and renovating I don’t feel we had enough time to really enjoy it.

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When our guests left Sunday morning we weren’t as eager to leave, I had Juli’s camera out and took some more photographs of the cottage. I know we’ve been giving you cottage overload lately, but you’ll have to wait a year to see it again!

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It got pretty chilly in the mornings so we started a fire, and we kept it burning all day. It reminds me how desperate I am for a fireplace at home during the Canadian winters.

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Super cosy.

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We picked up a Tivoli radio at Bay Bloor Radio on the way up to the cottage Friday. We’re always listening to the CBC during the drives to and from the cottage, we even had an on going joke about calling the cottage “Definitely Not Sarah’s Cottage”, after seeing Sarah Richardson’s Georgian Bay cottage on her design T.V. show. We would refer to our cottage as “DNSC” after the CBC program “Definitely Not The Opera”… It’s just nice having something on in the background while you’re making breakfast or laying around flipping through a magazine. Plus you can hook an Ipod up to it and have a crazy dance party.

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This old atomic magazine rack from the 50s made a terrific firewood carrier.

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Stacked logs.

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Elk antlers.

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Ceramic figurines thrifted on our trip to Scandinavia.

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The ceiling slightly resembles a leaf.

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Here’s a closer look at our under counter fridges’ handles, we made it from scrap wood from the kitchen’s birch ply counter top.

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It was as simple as cutting the shape of a handle and drilling it directly into the plywood covers with some super strong decking screws. Just cover up the holes with wood filler, sand it down after it dries, and seal it with a clear coat finish.

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A wonderful fish tea towel we purchased in Stockholm.

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Red cross.

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We purchased these at Value Village, they’re so cool looking on the wall.

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“Avoiding Goblins to be caught by Wolves”

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We picked up some 2 dollar Super Nintendo games at the Salvation Army, it was really fun playing some nostalgic video games, plus Super Mario Cart two player was quite the hit!

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Blue door.

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Some old Cowboy Western books.

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Lisa Larson fox & Canada drum.

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Coloured bars on our old Hudson Bay point blanket.

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The BIG Reveal!

August 27th, 2009

Dear Kitka readers, you’ve been waiting with bated breath for our final reveal and that day has finally arrived.

For those of you who are just joining us, here’s the short version. Back in the 70s, my parents bought a cute set of cottages set in a busy beachy area on Georgian Bay. On a tight budget, they made improvements such as blowing out the porch, installing California style windows, building a walk out deck and eventually installing an open concept kitchen. And then nothing happened for a very long time. The years came and went and we were still sitting in the Ogden’s living room set (the Ogdens were the previous owners for several generations). In 2004 I inherited the cottage when my father passed away. I was totally unprepared for the responsibility and the place fell into a bit of a state. My mom tried her best to keep it from going totally under and two years ago we didn’t even open. So when I introduced John to the cottage last summer, it was ripe for the picking. And we were so on the same design page, it was a relative snap to make it the space we’d only ever dreamed about.

So enjoy our hard work—we hope that it inspires you!

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You’ve seen this picture plenty of times, but we finally had the second PH light strung up above the black table. It finally looks complete!

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You saw this image last week, it’s still playing host to some odds and ends. Eventually we’d like to see a Day bed in the corner where the telescopes are standing, but we’ll save that for next year. Pictured in this photo is a bee hive shaped paper floor light by Isamu Noguchi, Marushka sail boat print, and Reindeer hide from Finland.

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The full view of the living room. The three legged teak table is from Juli’s grandmother and sitting above is a pair of Kosta Boda Snowball candle holders.

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A pair of Safari chairs by N. Eilerson, the beautiful reindeer hide lays on the floor behind.

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We are still trying to decide if we should paint out the old stone fireplace white. It’s looking a little worse for wear, but once you paint it, it’s hard to go back. These types of fireplaces are pretty typical of the area so it adds that bit of history into the mixture. No cottage is complete without a pair of antlers above the fireplace, bought from The Painted Table on Queen W.


We found an old black enamel bucket for cleaning ashes underneath the cottage.

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We found the original sconces in the boat house and spray painted them a matte black, the Timo Sarpaneva candle holders we purchased from Atomic Design.

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A vintage RCA television, always good for some Seinfeld re-runs.

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The rug we picked up on a trip to Stockholm, it’s called “Kopparklinten” which roughly translates to “copper mountains” and is by Swedish artist Judith Johansson circa 1952, and was inspired by the aerial view of power stations. The sofa and rattan stools are from IKEA, and the teak magazine rack is by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk.

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We tried to do the cottage on a budget, especially when it came to the kitchen.  We used Ikea kitchen cabinets which we assembled ourselves, the kitchen wall and ceiling is finished with fir ply 4″x8″ boards so we didn’t have to spend money on a back splash, and we saved money on the counter top by using birch plywood which we sealed using a clear coat finish. Since we didn’t have that much storage space we wanted to make sure we had appliances worthy of display, so we splurged on The Rowenta coffee maker and toaster designed by Jasper Morrison.

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The wooden cabinets are hiding an under counter fridge that we purchased for only 500 dollars (retail value $2500!). It was a demo at a kitchen store so we had to find new covers for the black exterior of the fridge, which Steve made out of birch plywood. We painted the doors to the bedrooms blue, just to add a bit of fun to the hallway and bring the colours of the dining room into the kitchen.

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We were originally wanting long stainless steel handles for the under counter fridge, but we found out we had to make a special order to get them in the size we were looking for. John came up with the idea to make wooden handles and we’re so glad he did, they look so cool and saved us 30 dollars in kitchen hardware. We’ll take a closer look at the kitchen another day and go through the components we used and the costs we accrued.

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The bathroom was something we can’t really take credit for. Steve our contractor, who was amazing, put together all the plumbing and installation of the bathroom, and tiled the shower. What we can take credit for, is the decisions that went into the bathroom. The teak and glass hanging light fixture is from a store on Queen st. called Atomic, and the shower curtain is Marimekko.

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The pedestal sink we found for under 100 dollars, and the chrome bathroom fixture is energy efficient and costs 159 dollars from Home Depot. We found that cool tooth brush holder at Value Village, and the red mirror is from Atomic and reminds me of a boat’s round window. We mounted it onto the wall using leather ribbon.


We used vertical tiles to emphasize the height of the shower, and a chromed out trumpet shaped Kohler shower head.

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The very affordable Pegasus toilet which features a dual flush system was 149.99 dollars at Home Depot, the medicine cabinet above we found at a local antique market in Helsinki for 10 dollars. (I don’t know how it survived the long trip home since it was too large to fit in the over head compartment and had to be put underneath the plane with no protection besides a garbage bag). Since there are no closets in the entire cottage and no storage in the bathroom, John came up with the built in wooden shelf solution that can hold multiple rolls of toilet paper.

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Juli’s old bedroom was turned into a Cowboys and Indians themed room. The wool blanket to the right is a vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket that we picked up in Stockholm of all places, and the blanket to the left features similar colouring and stripes but is labeled Whitney Point, bought from The Painted Table on Queen W. The guitar sitting on the floor comes in handy for impromptu singalongs around the camp fire, and the task lights are from Luxo.

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This is our bedroom, it’s pretty minimalist but that’s what we intended for this room. The blanket is a vintage emergency blanket from Ontario Hydro that we found in the cottage’s loft, and the cozy slippers are by Swedish designer Pia Wallen. The Dala horse was an Etsy purchase, and our only means of lighting is the Mayday light on the floor.

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The third bedroom has a wonderful blue and white wool blanket which we purchased at Camp Collectibles in Midland, and three vintage Dunlop tennis rackets which all have different coloured leather handles were picked up from Value Village. There is a public tennis court down the street and Juli and I love to play a quick game before racing to the lake for a nice long swim.

It’s a pretty amazing transformation but it’s hard to appreciate how far we’ve come. Let’s revisit the horror (the horror!) that was the BEFORE: Read the rest of this entry »

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