Last summer Mark and Andrea celebrated summer in their new contemporary timber frame cottage for the first time, after years of dreaming and planning their future vacation home.
“It felt surreal,” says Andrea. “It’s better than we could ever have imagined over 10 years ago, when we started planning our cottage.”
Andrea and Mark built their nearly 4,000 square-foot cottage with Normerica Timber Homes, a Canadian timber frame company that has built over 2,000 homes in the past 44 years.
“We joke that we are the company’s longest sale to ever close,” chuckles Andrea, stating that they met with Normerica shortly after acquiring a parcel of land next to Andrea’s parents’ cottage. As time passed and their lives got busier, the pair decided to shelve their plans and wait for a quieter time to build.
Finally, as the 2020 pandemic put everyone’s plans at a standstill, Mark and Andrea knew it was time to dust off theirs and call up Normerica again.
When the pair reengaged with Normerica, they were stunned to find that the same familiar faces were still with the company. “We loved our sales representative, and were stunned that he was still there after a decade,” says Andrea. “We loved how the entire team made us feel like family. They made us feel important.”
Customizing the plan
Now the couple was ready to turn their ideas into blueprints – a process that they say was simple thanks to the company’s plentiful house plans and past projects, which could be reviewed through photos, videos, and even home tours, which they would arrange with their past clients.
“We found a design that we liked, and after reviewing the video walkthrough, we knew we loved it,” says Andrea.
However, the couple needed to customize the plan to their family’s needs, and what the lot could accommodate. With the help of Normerica’s team, they removed the walkout basement, replacing it with a recreation room over the attached 3-car garage.
“Now our twin boys, who are 16, have somewhere to hang out. It has an arcade table, pool table, four-piece bathroom, and tv area, all separate from us.”
In addition to adding bedrooms and bathrooms, the couple looked to combine styles to create a contemporary cottage with a timeless quality that would never go out of style.
“We wanted the cottage to feel like a ski chalet, especially in the main room, with a fireplace, exposed beams, and a big light fixture that would make it feel warm and cozy, especially during colder months,” says Andrea. “We also wanted to incorporate a modern farmhouse style in the kitchen.”
The gabled roof, dormers, partial stone cladding, and window grilles lend the building a traditional form. The pair then added contemporary elements: white walls, black framed windows, a glass staircase, and an open-concept design to give the space a modern flare.
“Post and beam designs are timeless, so we wanted to leave the wood natural,” says Mark. “With the white, black, and natural wood, the design is a perfect blend. We just love it.”
While many clients, like Andrea and Mark, choose to use an existing house plan to design their cottage, every Normerica project is completely customizable – allowing clients to adjust room dimensions, add entryways, and windows, or remove entire levels, as was done in this cottage project.
“They were so quick with each set of revisions,” says Mark. “We were so impressed.”
Bringing the build to life
Normerica designs the building, produces the full set of construction drawings, and supplies the building envelope and exterior cladding. While Normerica sends a technical representative to every project to ensure proper installation, the company is also a Tarion builder that can offer turnkey builds.
“We worked with a builder out of Fenelon Falls, and Normerica was on site to guide them, which I thought was a cool feature,” says Andrea. “Their on-site guidance was included in the price, too, which I think is such a nice package.”
Andrea noted that Normerica did everything they said they would do during their build, following through on everything wholeheartedly, despite the pandemic.
“The fact that they were able to do everything they promised, and do it all on time was amazing.”
As Mark and Andrea now enjoy their cottage, they say it is difficult to say what they love most.
“The great room is pretty amazing,” says Andrea. “With the cathedral timber frame ceiling, glass staircase, and the big windows, you can see the lake as you walk in the front door. And the big fireplace makes it so cozy.”
“We love the three-season room too, with its retractable screens,” says Mark. “And the recreation room is such a great bonus room, perfect for entertaining and hanging out.”
This may only be the pair’s second summer in their cottage, but they say it certainly won’t be their last.
“Working with Normerica has been a delight,” says Andrea. “We love it here.”
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE | PHOTOS DANIEL WEYLIE