Muskoka’s rocky shores and sparkling waters have attracted cottagers for generations, but navigating the rugged, granite landscape has never been easy.
“To get from cottage to water, you need outdoor stairs,” says Peter Christenson, owner and head designer at Shoreline Design, an outdoor stair construction company. “Without stairs, your waterfront property is only a water-view property.”
The key is to find a stair designer that can create a staircase that is safe and aesthetically pleasing, that will add to your acreage without damaging the rock or obstructing views.
“The right staircase enhances your outdoor living environment and protects its beauty,” says Peter.
Peter is no stranger to Muskoka’s granite islands and shoals. He has been building on the shores of Muskoka since the age of 12, constructing everything from homes to docks. There’s a science to creating structures in Cottage Country, but for Peter, stairs have also become an art form.
“I create stairs like I create music,” says Peter, who’s also a gifted musician. “I never sat down with pen and paper to write a song, it just flows through me. Stairs are the same. I’ve been doing it so long, the designs just come to me as I build.”
A major key to Peter’s designs is safety. “I don’t like to go over eight feet vertical between landings for safety reasons,” says Peter. By going eight feet in one direction before adding a platform and switching back in another direction, each staircase takes a different design and is reinforced with greater strength and integrity.
“While it would be easy to create a single staircase that follows the steep incline of a rockface, one misstep could be dangerous.”
Peter’s stairs work with the landscape, leaving the slope and bank intact.
“If there are loose rocks around the stairs, we’ll reinforce them with mesh to keep them from falling.”
Built to Last
While others may use pressure-treated wood, Peter only uses old growth cedar – a material that he sources from Victoria, British Columbia. While the material lasts 30-plus years in the West Coast’s salt air and humidity, Peter says it will last more than 50 years in Ontario.
“It’s an eco-friendly material that will last for decades,” says Peter. “It’s beautiful. Full dimensional planks. It’s the real deal.”
While no two waterfronts are identical, Peter says no rockface is ever too difficult to build on.
“No incline is too steep,” says Peter. “Let’s work with your property to create safe and beautiful water access over steep and rugged terrain.”
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE