The classic cottage needed a fresh update in style to complement its charm and feel. Built at the turn of the century, it already had the comfort Muskoka is well known for.
It had a depth of character, the kind that only exists in older, well-loved family retreats. The building was full of memories: it just needed some sensitive livening-up, says Rebecca LeClaire, lead designer for Ask4Design.
“As we do with all our clients, we did a full consultation with the owners to determine their wants and needs and learn a bit about their personalities,” she says. “Together we came up with a fantastic design that put it all together.”
Recognizing that the clients loved some of the quirks of their cottage, Rebecca says they decided early on that their design should not “fight the building.” Rather, they incorporated those aspects – irregular ceiling shapes, offset walls – as it helped maintain the feel of the cottage.
The Muskoka room for example had a classic look. Utilizing the blue and white colours that the clients already loved, the Ask4Design team enhanced the feeling with new furniture, decor, layouts, and styling.
“You want to make sure it still has that character you know and love,” says Rebecca. “You have to design a space that works with the building.”
Seeing that Rebecca and her team really understood the needs of the cottage, the clients were perfectly comfortable leaving for the winter and trusting the design team to pull everything together. They had a big reveal in the spring, and were ecstatic with the results.
“We went through all the choices, went through everything together and then the clients were hands-off,” says Rebecca. “They trusted our process and trusted our team to do the job right.”
Rebecca and her business partner Steve Kirkpatrick explain that micromanaging – even as little as suppling some of the items yourself –can cause delays, complicate logistics and cost more in the long run. Letting the design specialists and team be efficient will help to control costs and timing.
Clients should be involved in all elements of the design and planning stage, but once that’s settled and the project is ready to begin, then the professionals can handle the logistics. It will be a better result, and a less stressful process for the client.
“Having the right team in place ensures that you can focus on creating memories, which is what the cottage is all about.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS THE NORTH STUDIO