While closed-concept layouts are making a comeback in many hot home design lists this year, Darren Huck and Ray McFalls, owners of TimberNorth Home and Design, say there’s no reason to start adding walls to your cottage design.
According to Darren and Ray, the Muskoka cottage is all about entertaining, which becomes easier and more enjoyable with open-concept design – one that makes the most of the view and the opportunity to connect with friends and family.
Ray and Darren have the unique benefit of living and working in both Waterloo Region and Muskoka. The lifelong cottagers spent years working under some of the province’s best builders before starting a custom-build company of their own.
“In Waterloo, we built large homes with modern design elements, which has allowed us to really understand what people want in their homes,” says Darren. “We also understand that the focus of a cottage, and the needs of cottagers, are very different from home.”
In tune with the terrain
Each design is also crafted with the rocky terrain of the lot in mind. “The rock is beautiful, so you want to leave as much exposed as possible and highlight it in the design,” says Darren. “As we plan the design and position the layout, we are looking for ways to work with the rock, and use it to our advantage.”
“While the front door, entryway, and main foyer are a crucial element to the design of a custom home, cottage design should focus on the view and access to the water,” says Ray.
Homes in the city typically have a single entryway, with rooms that are designed to look out onto the front or the back yard. In Muskoka, though, visitors can arrive from either direction by water or land, but the main focus is the view of the lake.
“As we design, we’re constantly asking ourselves how we can give our clients the best view from every room of the house,” says Ray. “Whether you’re watching TV with your family, entertaining friends in the dining room and kitchen, or enjoying your coffee in the Muskoka room, we want to optimize your view of the beauty around you.”
Making the most of space
Their latest boathouse design was a generous 2500 square feet, but the owners had big plans to use every bit of that space. The design includes an entertainment area, bathrooms, a workout area and yoga room, a common area finished with Ipe wood, and a big upper deck with room for a tiki bar.
The boathouse also includes two boat slips, including a 42-foot slip that can hold the family’s cigarette boat.
Adding the wow
While each cottage and boathouse is designed strategically, Darren and Ray love to add elements that will make the design stand out both inside and outside.
“We added a custom window that spans the width of the shower so guests can look out into the woods and get the full Muskoka experience,” says Darren. “They can feel like they’re away from the city and in full vacation mode.”
From the boathouse to the cottage and detached garage, Ray and Darren looked for ways to blend contemporary design choices with rustic elements that match the surrounding landscape.
“We added many of the style elements that our clients love, including large modern windows, high ceilings, stone veneers, glass railings, and clear cedar details,” says Ray. “We also left structural spruce beams exposed to add a rustic Muskoka look.”
Luxury for generations
While Darren and Ray have been building for years, TimberNorth is looking forward to making its mark in Muskoka as a top builder of luxury cottages.
“We pride ourselves in building reliable and unique cottages that will last and look beautiful for future generations,” says Darren.
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN