Otter Lake – Ontario
The Owners, a psychologist and a historian, came to us requesting a compact modern cottage, but a design that spoke to simpler cottage spaces of the past. They had bought a northern property featuring a spit of land with panoramic views of the lake. Could I design a “Cottage” rather than a “Castle”? It had to blend into the forest backdrop, sleep six or eight, and offer a choice of outdoor spaces that were sunny and bug-proof. The kitchen was to overlook the fireplace area, the Dining Room was to be intimate, and a Study was to pick up the slack when solitude was needed. The overall area of 1900’ sq. was to contain a master bedroom with its own bathroom and a pair of other bedrooms sharing another bathroom.
After visiting the property, I realized that the peninsula site would allow the Living Room and Dining Room each to have its own water view. The Master Bedroom would feature a sit-in bay window overlooking the long view down Otter Lake. Because the cottage is tucked into the hillside, there could be a real feeling of “journey” up through the house, for one would enter at the basement walkout and arrive in the Living Room on the floor above. That space would have a cathedral ceiling and an Ontario brick fireplace, with big studio windows overlooking the lake. Climbing to the 2nd floor, one could choose from 2 bedrooms, which, although compact, would offer views of lake and forest through windows set low at pillow height.
A Bunkie shares the modern palette of materials and colours of the main cottage. The pine wall paneling of the interior plays off the granite flagstone of the woodstove area. Two bedrooms, one at either end of the Bunkie, feel more spacious than their 100’ sq. area because of the location of large windows on flanking walls. While the property’s zoning prohibits a kitchen in the Bunkie, a microwave and bar fridge accomplish much the same function. Canadian prefinished wood siding in an olive colour makes both buildings retreat visually into the forest background, leaving the lakefront serene and uncluttered.
At the same time that we were discussing finishes and spaces, I suggested to the Owners that super-insulating the house and making it as energy-efficient as possible would work well with the design that they wanted. Extra insulation and sealant were installed in the building envelope, and passive cooling was ensured by making sure that all the windows could ventilate and that skylights installed to discharge any summer heat buildup. Materials were sourced based on local production. Any building components that could be recycled, were. Cork flooring and maple planking were selected for “green” function, as was the pine wall paneling used in the main room. A steel roof provides long-term security for the building.