Designer Spaces

Muskoka Magic

ARCHITECT JAMES PITROPOV GIVES US AN INSIDE LOOK AT A STUNNING MUSKOKA COTTAGE AND BOATHOUSE PROJECT. As seen on the cover of our 2021 Cottage & Outdoor Living Special Edition – available to download for free today!

This classic Lake Muskoka custom built cottage and boathouse were part of a larger site strategy that optimized upon the best panoramic views of Bear Bay. It has a sought after southern exposure and a slope that is sheltered from north winds. The cottage sits high on an elevated point of land overlooking the calm waters. The layout is a cottage and extensive landscaped outdoor living space on the ridge with a three-slip boathouse and docks at lake level. The house has a traditional Lake Muskoka layout that is orientated to the southern exposure. The boathouse is oriented south easterly to be accessible from the deepest part of the bay and protect swimming and natural areas on the southern part of the point. The landscaped area steps down the contours of the land and there are terraces cut into the slope where you can sit and watch the view. They are often brimming with butterflies and hummingbirds.

You get glimpses of the cottage and landscaped outdoor living areas from the lake and up through the wooded hillside. But it is the complimentary boathouse and docks that really welcomes visitors coming in across the lake. The boathouse visually connects you to the secret world up the slope. It is an experience arriving by boat and having a choice to stay as a guest at the lake level Bunkie over the boathouse. Winding your way up the naturally landscaped room to enjoy the convenience and views of the main cottage make the experience of the site memorable!

The design of the cottage and boathouse incorporated cedar shakes, natural stone, Douglas Fir wood timbers and cedar decking. The cottage features a double height stone fireplace in the central great room. The great room has beamed cathedral ceilings and magnificent clerestory windows. The Cottage has an unprecedented view of beautiful Lake Muskoka. The boathouse has the same features at a cosier scale! In order to meet height restrictions, the attic Bunkie in the boathouse is lower but more open than expected due to the cathedral ceilings made possible by timber beams.

Expert Tip: A major mistake cottage owners make is buying a cottage without much thought to the actual site itself.  The site and its frontage on the lake along with solar and wind orientation can be the most important factor in enjoying your cottage.  You need to have areas of good sunlight and some breeze to keep the bugs down. It’s helpful if there are deeper areas for your boathouse and diving. Shallow hard bottomed areas are safe and remain clear which is great as a beach area for young kids, non-swimmers and pets. Natural soft bottomed areas can be good for turtles and sunfish. You can fish there but swimming might be hazardous plus you do not want to disturb sensitive natural hotspots on your property. Also, you should think about the character of the lake itself. Is it more of a party/jet boating lake or quiet and natural? Please make sure you will be a good neighbor on the lake! If you don’t have that, no matter how beautiful your cottage is, you may never enjoy those special extended hours of playing in the sunshine late into the day or sitting around a firepit with pleasant summer evening breezes.  You can always change the cottage but you can’t change the site. Find the lake that fits your personality and you will achieve great friendships and a lifetime of memories.

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