The days of a summer cottage decorated with old family cast-offs is a thing of the past. Instead people are looking for a versatile space that is used year round and is welcoming for a couple or a crowd.

The décor is a mix of an eclectic modern edge and cottage traditional. Unique and reclaimed pieces work against a light neutral background.

Rafters of Muskoka “It is not the place they take leftover furniture from home and try to fit it in at the cottage,” says Tary Roosien owner/designer of Urban Rustic Living.

Designer/owner David MacPhee of Rafters of Muskoka finds the same thing. “It is no longer the catch-all for hand-me-downs from the city – and from relatives.”

“People are transitioning. It is not ‘just a cottage’ anymore,” says Tary.

The Muskoka cottage is often is a second home used all year round.

“They are creating a new look for their second lifestyle,” says Tary explaining for many it is an important part of a new and different way of life. As a result the décor is different. “It is much fresher, still very casual – something that will look good year round.”

People are building larger homes and cottages with room for friends and family.
“This includes entertaining spaces, relaxing spaces – but most important comfortable well-appointed spaces,” says David.

“In setting up these places, they are looking for what will suit the whole family,” says Tary. “The cottage is a way to keep the whole family together.” They may not have grandchildren yet, but they are preparing for that too.

Rafters of Muskoka A large open-concept cottage can have little vignettes to get away privately, plus large family areas too, explains Tary. “The kitchen is the hub of the cottage, we know that, but also in the kitchen there may be a little a spot with comfy chairs, not dining chairs.“ She suggests it could be a place to relax and drink coffee.

“It needs to be set up for an onslaught of people, but also work for two,” she says. “A couple doesn’t want to eat their meals at a big harvest table.”

It is important that the cottage works well for entertaining. “People entertain a lot more up here, but it is a more relaxed style of entertaining at the cottage, “ says David.

With the large open spaces, the furniture pieces are larger, with a lot of sectionals and sofa chaises that are dual purpose. “They are good for a large gathering and also provide a private spot where guests can chill out and lounge,” says Tary. “People still like leather for the durability, but we are seeing greys, soft creams and even light blues – it is a little more water influenced.”

“The cottage is all about comfort and places you can curl up and enjoy the fire and the lake,” says David, adding furniture has changed a bit with square-edged sofas and deep comfortable cushions.

Wood used in cottage décor has changed. “Bleached and natural wood is popular as are large wood pieces with an eclecticness of different species of woods. We use a lot of exotic woods with the natural ribboning. It is way more interesting,” she says.

The days of walls, floor and ceiling all in the same honey-coloured pine is a thing of the past. “That was the look of cottages for years,” says David. It is now replaced with greyish tones and warm neutrals. “It is about driftwood, grey and white-washed woods, keeping the blonds fresh and bright. “

David says people are painting out that pine with a white or cream. “It’s a really nice bead board effect,’’ he says. Painting medium density fibreboard (MDF) with a v-groove does the same, gives a lighter and brighter look but still a cottage feel, he suggests.

He suggests a handcrafted artisan-style piece such as a twig console inlaid with different types of bark and wood as a great option for an eclectic touch.

When people are tearing down a family cottage, there is some reluctance, says Tary. “There are so many family memories. It is really important to find a couple of pieces you can work with in the new place. Even scavenge wood and make a table.”

David sees a lot of reclaimed wood used in floors and cabinetry.

Rafters of Muskoka Metal is making a statement and can update traditional pieces, such as a dining table with metal legs or metal trim. “Chrome has come back huge,” says Tary. “It has a soft coastal look, again more water influenced.” And don’t worry about mixing metals. It’s encouraged when done the right way.

“The gold/sliver mix, a winter white, it all looks great together, “ says Tary adding, “For lighting, a mix of metals is a big deal.”

“Improved lighting is really key,” says David. “There was a time when lighting was the last thing people thought about. Now that cottages are used four seasons, lighting is more important. When the sun sets at 5 p.m. in the winter, you can lighten up the room.”

Today’s Muskoka homes and cottages have many roles and a fresh new unique look.

“Cottages have gone in a more modern direction, but we layer it back with wood and vintage pieces to bring balance,” sums up Tary. She suggests a vintage bench adds a spa feel to a master suite with other modern amenities and metal accents. “Eclectics really come into play.”

Rafters of Muskoka David says about 15 per cent eclectic becomes the feature with a backdrop of neutral walls and furniture. “Pops of colour using cushions or carpets create interest. The eclectic can be sculpture-like, fantastic pieces,” he suggests.

The Muskoka cottage is no longer a place for to those hand-me-downs. “It is a second home, but all the comforts of home are very important at the cottage,” says David.