The Muskoka Look
By Martha Uniacke Breen
Ever wondered exactly what’s involved with designing a brand-new cottage from scratch?
Our ongoing series, Building A Dream, follows along as a family undergoes the complicated, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding process of designing and building their dream Muskoka cottage, and what we can learn from their experience.
In this instalment, designer Meredith Parsons takes a look at the three most popular style categories in lakehouse interior design, and how these styles can be seen through a distinctly Muskoka lens.
Cassis Design Studio’s senior designer, Meredith Parsons, points out that while your style is uniquely your own, most interior design falls into three general categories. When she works with clients like the family whose cottage build we’ve been following in this series, she says this is an excellent place to start to narrow down your choices.
Also, she observes, “Muskoka has a unique style all its own, incorporating the landscape, the way we enjoy the space, and the history of the area. When I work with clients, often one of our goals is helping you incorporate your own style, perhaps adapted from your year-round home, into the Muskoka vibe/landscape.”
Meredith broke down for us the three main design styles that are most popular in Muskoka luxury lakeside living – and what comprises a uniquely Muskoka take on these styles. It’s a great place to start to narrow down your own unique style!
Traditional design draws on the past for inspiration, including British, New England and Old World building and decorating styles. Muskoka Traditional takes inspiration from the natural world all around us, and incorporates it into these traditions: unfinished wood furnishings, wall paneling and structural elements such as log or timber framing; natural textures like wool, birchbark, rope; complex patterns in fabrics and rugs. Granite is a classic component with flooring and of course, fireplaces, but usually as raw rather than cut stone. Walls are decorated with cottagey elements like canoe paddles, animal heads, or maps. The emphasis is on home, comfort, unpretentiousness.
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The principle behind modern design is that “form follows function,” which means you think about how you live in a space and design to that purpose. Generally, modern interiors are clean, sleek, free of clutter and excess. Colour is usually low key, letting the natural colours of building materials (or the view!) do the talking, whether wood, steel, glass or cut stone.
Muskoka’s beautiful vistas and relaxed lifestyle makes it very well suited to modern design. Lots of floor-to ceiling glass and open-plan interiors, the better to enjoy the view and the sunshine, are supplemented with regional touches: granite slabs with sleek straight lines (used indoors and out); natural landscape features like driftwood, which can look stunning in a simple Modernist setting.
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Transitional style offers the best of both worlds, and is a very easy, adaptable style to live with, particularly at the cottage. A transitional interior might combine deeply upholstered, comfortable furnishings with a modern glass-and-steel coffee table, or sleek, clean-lined sofas with patterned rugs. A typical transitional colour palette tends towards neutral, muted colours, and understated design schemes with a few textures and accessories. We see mixing textures more than colours in this style.
The Muskoka version of transitional style adds a relaxed, laid-back vibe rather than trying to adhere to any one design principle. Plaid, striped, even coastal patterns in fabrics and a breezy approach to decor take precedence. The design is clean,
but has a lived-in feel.