Modern cottage design burst onto the scene in Muskoka over a decade ago, bringing black exteriors, flat roofs, and wall-to-wall windows. More recently, a variant on that trend has been showing up: homes and cottages with an aesthetic that embraces both modern style and traditional looks.
Call it Transitional, Modern Farmhouse or Traditional-Modern but what it boils down to is designing and building homes and cottages that suit the tastes of the homeowner rather than being beholden to a single design style. And for savvy owners – and builders – achieving that starts with the windows and doors.
“No matter what style you’re building, the windows are really the eyes of the home,” says Ken Kussen, who co-owns Great North Windows & Doors with his sons, Brad and Jeff. “You look out from them, of course, but they also define a big part of the building’s design. They set the tone for the entire property.”
That’s one of the reasons Marvin Windows and Doors offers five distinct product lines. “They really do make the right windows and doors for any architectural design,” says Ken. “These are top of the line products, and no matter what your taste or style, they have windows and doors to suit.”
Getting all the elements right can be tricky, particularly when working with a transitional architectural style like Modern Farmhouse. Experienced window and door experts can really help homeowners and builders navigate the endless options, guiding them through an array of design choices, functional features and budget considerations.
“A traditional cottage would usually have contoured frames and grilles, for example, typically in white,” Jeff says, “and you’d often lean toward double hung or single hung windows. It’s a very classic look.” Modern design, on the other hand, often features black windows and doors with large expanses of glass and no contours.
Modern Farmhouse has elements of both. There are architectural elements of a traditional farmhouse – a welcoming front porch, horizontal siding blended with one or two other materials, an asymmetrical structure that makes the home feel like it was built in stages, and so on. But it combines those elements with contemporary touches, most notably clean-edged, modern windows and doors.
“Black frames are often the favourite choice for Modern Farmhouse,” says sales representative Grant Eckenswiller, “but white can also work well, depending on the home. We’re also starting to see more demand for gunmetal finishes, which look very chic.”
In every design style, though, big windows are where it’s at. And pulling that off requires using top-quality windows and doors.
“Energy efficiency is a vital component of every modern home, regardless of the style,” says Brad. “That’s one of the reasons we love Marvin windows: they look great, and they come in a wide array of styles, and they’re incredibly energy efficient.”
The team at Great North has decades of experience in the window and door business, and they knew Marvin was the company they wanted to partner with. “They’re a large firm but they’re also family-run, so they take enormous pride in their reputation and the products they build,” says Ken.
Marvin’s certified performance ratings are at the top of the chart in all categories, says Jeff. “In Muskoka you want a lot of big windows looking out on the lake, regardless of what architectural style you choose. To keep the cottage cool in the summer and warm in the winter, though, it’s essential to use high-performance windows. Marvin delivers.”
That performance comes through smart design as well as highly advanced materials: by way of example, Jeff notes that Marvin pioneered the use of fibreglass for windows and doors in 1996. Marvin’s fibreglass expands and contracts at virtually the same rate as glass, extending the life of the window since it responds to temperature swings in the same way.
Marvin windows and doors also feature an array of innovative features, such as inward-swinging casements (perfect for windows that look out onto a deck), venting picture windows that allow ventilation on all four sides, glider windows that can be operated with just one finger, and more.
Great cottage design embraces the outdoors, which often means walls of glass that can vanish at a touch. Here, too, Marvin excels: they make sliding doors that span openings as wide as 48 feet and as high as 12 feet, and bifold doors that open up to 55 feet – some of the widest openings in the industry.
“Muskoka is all about an indoor-outdoor lifestyle,” says Ken. “It doesn’t matter what your design style, you want to be able to enjoy that. Marvin doors and windows can make that happen.”
TEXT A. WAGNER-CHAZALON