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The humble cottage has become an icon of escapism, connection to nature and the dream of campfires, canoeing and camaraderie – here’s what you need to transform your cabin into the escape of your dreams
Folks, perhaps more than ever before, aspire to leaving the cut and thrust of city life in search of peace, tranquility and the rural idyll. Who, after all, doesn’t aspire to optimize relaxation and reward? But are those rural nests suitably feathered so as to make the most of their surroundings? Here’s a guide to what you can do to get the best out of your cabin…
Choose a prime site
When it comes to creating your sanctuary, location, is everything. If building from scratch, extending, or adding a new bunkie, it’s imperative you get a feel for the land before your project starts. Properly appraise views, elevation and proximity to natural beauty – such as sun exposure and views – before deciding where to position your new structure. It’s all in the planning: attach your deck, for example, to the wrong elevation and you’ll regret it for years to come.
Know what you want
Ahead of consigning plans to paper, visit as many cottages as you can to sharpen the vision of how your space should ‘work’. Or, at the very least, scan realtor sites for inspiration. Start ‘mood boarding’ by collating ideas from magazines, Instagram and Pinterest, and build a ‘picture’ of what it is that drives your decorative ambition.
Add special finishes
Whatever you plan (barn board walls, perhaps, or reclaimed timber furniture) find time and space to personalize your escape: with an indulgent faucet, maybe, to luxe up a powder room, with under tile heating to cosy up your bathroom, or via beautiful stone counters in an otherwise basic kitchen. Luxuries such as these help elicit a home environment that’s both rewarding and escapist.
Shared vs private
Truly escapist homes offer ‘choices’ for their occupants, and indeed space for personal indulgence. The ideal cottage footprint locates its kitchen/dining/ living zone in one area (the ‘congregational’ space) with bedrooms and bathrooms accessed via a separate hallway. Architectural designation such as this limits noise ingress between zones, and allows ‘retreat’ as and when required.
Make the most of views
Connection to nature is essential, so make sure your cabin can make the most of views. Swap out small windows for larger configurations and add sliding patio doors to as many rooms as you can to provide multiple points of entry so that each guest can access nature from their own private space.
For us, the ideal cabin blends into its surrounds – we tend to use darker colours or timber finishes on the exterior so the cabin project ‘recedes’ into nature. Whether you arrive by land or boat, the ‘stealth’ cottage is a veritable surprise as it quietly emerges from the forest. Make more of the ‘adventure’ by building a meandering path that leads to a fire pit, or position a wood burning sauna, deep in the woods, as a surprise that brings pleasure to you and your guests.
Discover magic in even the most ordinary moments by creating the perfect backdrop to daily life. From auspicious positioning of a chair in a bay window (to embrace a special view), to setting the perfect dining room, to filling vintage glass bottles with scented bath tinctures (as attractive wash room accessories) little gestures make a big difference.
Listening to vinyl on an old turntable – or a cassette on a vintage tape deck – provides a lovely opportunity to detach from our fast spinning world to wander times gone by. These days, there’s so much enforced ‘polish’ in our lives that memories of calmer moments, when they can be evoked, serve as ‘replenishing’ soul food. Check eBay and garage sales for teak clad record players and touchy feely large buttoned tape decks and prepare to step back in time.
Never lose the habit of including everyday luxuries to imbue your vacation home with a truly escapist feel. Enjoying an amazing coffee, for example, especially one brewed in an indulgent appliance, truly lifts the spirits as delicious aromas permeate the air. Visit our fave caffeine fuelled site – www.idrinkcoffee.com – for all your brewing needs.
The most important ingredient in any cabin design is YOU, so don’t be afraid to self-express and make it personal. It should be an extension of your personality, a place where you can be your truest, happiest and most tranquil self. Make sense? Now who’s for a spot of portage? And a glass (or two) of wine…
Watch for Colin and Justin on Cabin Pressure and Great Canadian Cottages (Cottage Life TV) and on Cityline(CityTV). Find the Colin and Justin Collection in stores across Canada. Visit www.colinandjustin.tv.