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A Family Cottage Gets a Facelift from Ikea

Designer Melissa Davis gives this busy family cottage a fresh, friendly and beautiful makeover.

Ah, the great Canadian cottage experience; moonlight swims in crisp freshwater lakes, loons calling out at dusk and lazy days sipping organic lagers and lemonade on the dock. Then there`s waking up to the smell of musty shag carpeting, dark wood paneling and chipped laminate countertops. OK, maybe it’s time to update the cottage!

When a busy Toronto doctor and his family invited me up to their cottage to help envision the possibilities, I was at once swept away by the setting and aghast that this lovely stylish family was summering in something out of a 1970s sitcom.It was time for a refresh, we all agreed.

Although the brand new summer mansions that now pepper the lakes of Ontario cottage country in Muskoka are undeniably lovely, they don’t exactly invite sandy kids to run through after a day on the beach, or inspire visions of late-night snacks and Monopoly games. This family is notorious for their warm hospitality and laid-back hosting style and the updated cottage needed to reflect their personal style and priorities. We wanted to create a fresh country cottage look, which would be bright and new, but still maintain touches of that rustic charm they fell in love with.

Start with a perfect mudroom

The main entry to the cottage was a tiny dark hallway with laundry machines and old wood cabinetry. Not the first impression this family was looking for. We moved the laundry elsewhere, which allowed us to create a charming little mudroom—a space to drop muddy gardening boots, and hang wet beach towels without tracking the muck through to the house. I used Ikea kitchen cabinets to fashion a practical combination of deep lower drawers for shoes, capped with a KARLBY butcher block counter which doubles as a bench—the perfect place to set your bags and kick off your wet flip flops.

Upper cabinets by Ikea, simple open shelves and BRANAS baskets were all added for pretty and practical storage. Each basket was labelled with a sweet chalkboard tag that Martha Stewart would envy. The beauty of Ikea’s new SEKTION kitchen product is that all the extra accessories and details are available for each style. The off-white HITTARP panels were the perfect backdrop for the hooks and the bench we installed, and of course, all are colour-matched to the cabinets for a custom look without a custom price tag.

Unexpected elegance

To the left of the mudroom is the powder room, and the kitchen is to the right; so it was important to incorporate elements that would carry the design flow from space to space.

Black cabinet hardware in the mudroom carries through to the powder room, shown here with the lovely Ikea LUNDSKAR faucet, and ORTOFTA chandelier adding just a hit of unexpected elegance.

Throughout the cottage we installed a hardwearing LVT or luxury vinyl tile, the perfect choice for beach feet and impromptu dance parties.The medium-brown tone is echoed throughout in the butcher block and in the washroom vanities where I opted for the Ikea walnut GODMORGON sink cabinet.The finishing touch is the Closet Stripe wallpaper from Farrow and Ball in a watery blue and white stripe.

Hidden organization

The kitchen was utterly outdated with dark-brown tones and fittings. We kept the layout, which saved on dollars and opted instead to create a big impact through the use of a clean white bright palette. The same BODBYN cabinets used in the powder room are seen along the window wall.The lake view is stunning with two large windows flanking the range; we kept them unobstructed save for two ALVANGEN pendants.

Stacking a sequence of cutlery drawers and glass door cabinets beside the fridge creates a classic hutch of sorts and a pretty display for glassware. The DOMSJO apron front sink is the perfect country detail and adding the GLITTRAN black faucet finishes the look. We brought in a soft texture on the walls with an organic print from Farrow and Ball. Another great feature of the new SEKTION system is something you can`t actually see: wonderful interior fittings like the drawer-in-drawer detail, pot racks and recycling pullouts that keep counters clear, while offering hidden organization even the most type-A person would love.

The last space we tackled is the main family bathroom. Unremarkable in every way, this room had a typical layout with tub at the end and simple 4x4 white tile. It was begging for something to energize it. The star here is the rich blue Jasmine floral wallpaper by Farrow and Ball, which creates a subtle hint of outdoors, and looks fresh with bead board wainscoting. What the footprint lacked in size, we made up for with the Ikea`s GODMORGON pullout drawer vanity with DRAGAN bamboo inserts to hold toiletries, towels and brushes. The polish of chrome fixtures and accessories brings a bit of sparkle and ties beautifully with the nautical play in the OTTAVA lighting.

To me the best cottage experience is about togetherness and relaxation—put your hair in a ponytail, pull up a chair beside an old friend and forget your cares. This beautiful new space, with its warm rustic notes, and crisp whites and blues is the perfect haven after a long day of summer sun or fall campfires.I can’t wait for my next weekend invite!