There are plenty of amazing views from this cottage, but one that the owners enjoy most is the view of approaching boats.
“It’s fun to sit on the dock and see the expressions of awe wash over people’s faces when they get a better view of the property,” George, one of the owners, says with a smile.
“Friends often say that the property has a magical feel as you approach.”
That was part of their goal when transforming the lakeside home: they wanted a landscape that revealed itself slowly, that offered changing views as you approach and move through it, and that continually surprised and delighted.
Collin Dunnett and his team at Stonescaping Muskoka were charged with turning that vision into reality.
“Working with Collin and his team has been tremendous,” says George. “We discussed the vision and they made it happen. As well, having all the services done with only one company was vastly important to us.”
To achieve that vision, Collin explains, the design had to work with the landscape rather than dominating it.
“Part of creating the natural look is having paths and steps that wind and flow with the land,” says Collin. “Just going straight up and down looks very manmade. Having a gentle curve here and there, as well as stops at seating areas and fire pits, adds a tremendous look while also ensuring the functionality of the property.”
The choice of materials is also a key part of balancing form and function. The owners wanted everything to be built to last. Granite was the material of choice as it checks a lot of important boxes – durability, strength, virtually maintenance-free, it doesn’t scratch or stain, and the list goes on.
Granite pathways lead around the property, taking visitors through the gorgeous gardens, and meeting up with steps that flow from the lake to the cottage with stops in between. At the top of the property, a granite pathway to the cottage entrance is flanked by large boulders and gardens.
A nineteen-by nineteen-foot fire pit was crafted from massive granite slabs weighing more than 1,000 lbs. The area has space for eight large Muskoka chairs and an outdoor pizza oven.
“It made sense using heavier pieces here to provide extra support for the pizza oven and extra foot traffic it’s sure to see,” says Collin.
Another area where the Stonescaping Muskoka team was mostly focused on function was around the cottage where the water drains through the eavestrough. They placed loose rocks and plants to form a dry stream bed, which looks great while directing water away from the foundation.
The natural feel of the property was enhanced by seamlessly blending new stone material with exposed bedrock and boulders that were already on the site. Existing trees and other vegetation were also incorporated into the design.
The effect meets the owners’ desire: a relaxing atmosphere from the seasonal property.
“There is now a serenity that didn’t exist before,” says George. “It’s really a personal oasis.”
They also love the fact that while granite is an already low-maintenance natural material, Collin’s team also takes care of any maintenance needs for their clients.
While many visitors see the property from the lake side first, an equal amount of attention was given to the driveway side. There, granite steps lead to the front door on one side of the drive. Another set of steps leads to a storage area across from the main building, which is surrounded by a mix of natural and introduced plants as well as naturally occurring rocks and boulders.
“The storage area is hidden by the environment, both natural and manmade,” says Collin. It shows that a quality design and expert installation can add beauty to any part of a property’s exterior.
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN