Cottage Reno

The BIG Reveal!

August 27th, 2009

Dear Kitka readers, you’ve been waiting with bated breath for our final reveal and that day has finally arrived.

For those of you who are just joining us, here’s the short version. Back in the 70s, my parents bought a cute set of cottages set in a busy beachy area on Georgian Bay. On a tight budget, they made improvements such as blowing out the porch, installing California style windows, building a walk out deck and eventually installing an open concept kitchen. And then nothing happened for a very long time. The years came and went and we were still sitting in the Ogden’s living room set (the Ogdens were the previous owners for several generations). In 2004 I inherited the cottage when my father passed away. I was totally unprepared for the responsibility and the place fell into a bit of a state. My mom tried her best to keep it from going totally under and two years ago we didn’t even open. So when I introduced John to the cottage last summer, it was ripe for the picking. And we were so on the same design page, it was a relative snap to make it the space we’d only ever dreamed about.

So enjoy our hard work—we hope that it inspires you!

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You’ve seen this picture plenty of times, but we finally had the second PH light strung up above the black table. It finally looks complete!

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You saw this image last week, it’s still playing host to some odds and ends. Eventually we’d like to see a Day bed in the corner where the telescopes are standing, but we’ll save that for next year. Pictured in this photo is a bee hive shaped paper floor light by Isamu Noguchi, Marushka sail boat print, and Reindeer hide from Finland.

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The full view of the living room. The three legged teak table is from Juli’s grandmother and sitting above is a pair of Kosta Boda Snowball candle holders.

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A pair of Safari chairs by N. Eilerson, the beautiful reindeer hide lays on the floor behind.

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We are still trying to decide if we should paint out the old stone fireplace white. It’s looking a little worse for wear, but once you paint it, it’s hard to go back. These types of fireplaces are pretty typical of the area so it adds that bit of history into the mixture. No cottage is complete without a pair of antlers above the fireplace, bought from The Painted Table on Queen W.


We found an old black enamel bucket for cleaning ashes underneath the cottage.

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We found the original sconces in the boat house and spray painted them a matte black, the Timo Sarpaneva candle holders we purchased from Atomic Design.

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A vintage RCA television, always good for some Seinfeld re-runs.

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The rug we picked up on a trip to Stockholm, it’s called “Kopparklinten” which roughly translates to “copper mountains” and is by Swedish artist Judith Johansson circa 1952, and was inspired by the aerial view of power stations. The sofa and rattan stools are from IKEA, and the teak magazine rack is by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk.

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We tried to do the cottage on a budget, especially when it came to the kitchen.  We used Ikea kitchen cabinets which we assembled ourselves, the kitchen wall and ceiling is finished with fir ply 4″x8″ boards so we didn’t have to spend money on a back splash, and we saved money on the counter top by using birch plywood which we sealed using a clear coat finish. Since we didn’t have that much storage space we wanted to make sure we had appliances worthy of display, so we splurged on The Rowenta coffee maker and toaster designed by Jasper Morrison.

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The wooden cabinets are hiding an under counter fridge that we purchased for only 500 dollars (retail value $2500!). It was a demo at a kitchen store so we had to find new covers for the black exterior of the fridge, which Steve made out of birch plywood. We painted the doors to the bedrooms blue, just to add a bit of fun to the hallway and bring the colours of the dining room into the kitchen.

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We were originally wanting long stainless steel handles for the under counter fridge, but we found out we had to make a special order to get them in the size we were looking for. John came up with the idea to make wooden handles and we’re so glad he did, they look so cool and saved us 30 dollars in kitchen hardware. We’ll take a closer look at the kitchen another day and go through the components we used and the costs we accrued.

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The bathroom was something we can’t really take credit for. Steve our contractor, who was amazing, put together all the plumbing and installation of the bathroom, and tiled the shower. What we can take credit for, is the decisions that went into the bathroom. The teak and glass hanging light fixture is from a store on Queen st. called Atomic, and the shower curtain is Marimekko.

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The pedestal sink we found for under 100 dollars, and the chrome bathroom fixture is energy efficient and costs 159 dollars from Home Depot. We found that cool tooth brush holder at Value Village, and the red mirror is from Atomic and reminds me of a boat’s round window. We mounted it onto the wall using leather ribbon.


We used vertical tiles to emphasize the height of the shower, and a chromed out trumpet shaped Kohler shower head.

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The very affordable Pegasus toilet which features a dual flush system was 149.99 dollars at Home Depot, the medicine cabinet above we found at a local antique market in Helsinki for 10 dollars. (I don’t know how it survived the long trip home since it was too large to fit in the over head compartment and had to be put underneath the plane with no protection besides a garbage bag). Since there are no closets in the entire cottage and no storage in the bathroom, John came up with the built in wooden shelf solution that can hold multiple rolls of toilet paper.

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Juli’s old bedroom was turned into a Cowboys and Indians themed room. The wool blanket to the right is a vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket that we picked up in Stockholm of all places, and the blanket to the left features similar colouring and stripes but is labeled Whitney Point, bought from The Painted Table on Queen W. The guitar sitting on the floor comes in handy for impromptu singalongs around the camp fire, and the task lights are from Luxo.

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This is our bedroom, it’s pretty minimalist but that’s what we intended for this room. The blanket is a vintage emergency blanket from Ontario Hydro that we found in the cottage’s loft, and the cozy slippers are by Swedish designer Pia Wallen. The Dala horse was an Etsy purchase, and our only means of lighting is the Mayday light on the floor.

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The third bedroom has a wonderful blue and white wool blanket which we purchased at Camp Collectibles in Midland, and three vintage Dunlop tennis rackets which all have different coloured leather handles were picked up from Value Village. There is a public tennis court down the street and Juli and I love to play a quick game before racing to the lake for a nice long swim.

It’s a pretty amazing transformation but it’s hard to appreciate how far we’ve come. Let’s revisit the horror (the horror!) that was the BEFORE: Read the rest of this entry »

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Cottage Stuff: Using what you’ve got + one new thing too!

August 20th, 2009

Ok, so we’re being a little bit terrible. The cottage is basically done and yes, we are totally holding out on the kitchen and full living room reveal. Mostly, this is because we are currently in a whirlwind of time deprivation. John is working every day this week until fairly late into the evening, we have a family event on the weekend and we’re in the midst of putting our home on the market. It’s crazy town. Contractors are flying about fixing all those annoying little projects and things that you easily learn to ignore for years on end, but that buyers will notice immediately. We’re looking to put it on the market for next weekend, so I am working double time to get things looking gorgeous (why can’t we just live our life like this? why do we become complacent with our space instead of keeping it tidy?).

I spent all day today unearthing the long forgotten floor of our office (I just walked in here to write this and said something to the cat—yes, I talk to my cat—and my voice actually echoed!). I am so inspired by the cottage and our minimal furniture and decorating, that I am determined to pare down the last 12 years of my life and break free from the STUFF.

So now that the update is over, back to the cottage.


Next year we may build a day bed for this front corner, but until then this is where the telescopes are. In the exposed shelving we’ve been going with a sailboat theme. The one on the left is an actual wooden toy sailboat John picked up in Port Dover years ago, and the picture on the right is a Marushka print we picked up on Etsy.  We’re toying with putting this crazy shell framed piece of art work that my dad picked up about 8 years ago in this area too.


This piece has baffled me since it first appeared on the scene. Yes, my dad got really into fish and water themed things, but this just seemed out of character, much to my immense enjoyment. The image itself is fantastic. A super old print of a man and woman in a rickety boat with a rough sea. It’s just so…romantic.


These two little rugs came from my grandmothers condo in Winnipeg. She was so obsessed with maintaining the carpeting that she covered major swaths of her place with little carpets, much to our collective exasperation (tripping and falling factor=high). The colours and graphic prints in these little rugs compliment the white floors perfectly.

And finally, John felt you needed something a bit more sexy than my random snapshots of stuff.


John here, I was lucky enough to find these two chairs during two separate occasions, it must have been fate. The chairs were designed by N. Eilerson marked made in Denmark, they are more commonly known as “Safari Chairs”.

We found our first Safari chair at Rogue Gallery in Queen St East several months ago, it was in Martin’s infamous “storage unit”. It wasn’t doing anyone any good just sitting there in storage so Martin let us take it off his hands for $75 dollars. The second chair wasn’t as easy. I found it on an eBay auction a few weeks later, except this one was a bright orange and the “Buy it Now” price was a staggering $350. Having just purchased the exact chair for $75 weeks before I sent her an offer explaining that I had just purchased the same chair at a reputable furniture dealer in Toronto, and my offer of $100 dollars was more than fair. The seller accepted, and it was only a 40 minute drive away to pick it up! The really horrible thing was sanding down all of that orange paint! It took me forever, and the orange got all over my clothes. I don’t know how many hours it took to remove all that awful orange but the result is so worth it.

I’ve never had a matching pair of chairs in a living room, they look so great together.

Now to avoid complete over exposure on our part, we’d love for you to share your spaces with us. We used to do this more when we started the blog, and we’d love to get back to it!

Don’t make us beg.

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Cottage Exposed Shelving

August 16th, 2009


Well we’re back again from a long weekend at the cottage, this time we got to do a little decorating! While we were tearing down the old musty 60 + year old drywall we found that the only thing standing between us and the outdoors was beautiful exposed cedar slats. We toyed with the idea of leaving all the walls exposed but came to the conclusion it wouldn’t be too comfortable with the wind whistling through our walls during those cold spring nights. We wanted to keep a piece of this architectural detail, to remind us of the construction of the cottage so we left a set of studs completely exposed to be used as shelving.

We had a really fun time getting out some of our nic knacks to make a display, but first! Let me tell you about what we put on our table. The two teapots are by Ulla Procope for Arabia Finland, the larger white pot was a wedding present for Juli’s parents in the 70s, Juli’s mom was nice enough to search through her cupboards and lend it to us indefinetly. We also were lucky enough to get a smaller black tea pot for 3 dollars during a thrifting adventure in Southern Ontario. The black candleabra we found in the cottage’s boat house while we were looking for the sconces.



Jens Quistgaard trivet. During the long dark Scandinavian winters, these trivets were reminiscent of the warm spring to come.
Ebay, $5.


“Enjoy!” trivet from Japan, Value Village $3. Matching Ulla Procope sugar and creamer set from Juli’s Mom.


Kay Bojesen soldier from a Danish cruise ship duty free. Aarikka Finland napkin holder, Ebay $15.


Well this half of the cottage is looking pretty good, despite the one unstrung Poul Henningsen light. Stay tuned for more pictures later this week!

P.s. maybe next year we can replace the Deck X’s of Death with wooden slats…

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Reno Reveal: Wall Sconces

August 13th, 2009


Awhile back when we were in destructo mode, we had two nice gaping holes on either side of the fireplace thanks to the removal of my dad’s somewhat fishy taste in decor.

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I’ve been wanting to switch these beauts up for awhile but sconces are, quite frankly, a hard thing to buy! Thankfully my dad was also a huge pack rat when it came to redundant bits and bobs (he has canisters full of used nails and screws in the shed, which we learned during the demolition, he used in abundance – just try removing stripped screws). I recalled seeing the original sconces somewhere in the boat house so the other week we went a treasure hunting and thankfully I found them.

This is where ordinarily you would see a “before” photo but as most blog writers out there can attest, sometimes you’re just too excited and although you have every intention of taking photos, you get lost in the moment and don’t realize until it’s covered in matte black spray paint (another product that fellow home bloggers can’t keep their hands off of). The candleabra sconces were originally bronze with fake white candle (with drips!) and candle bulbs (same shape as the after version) that were sprayed a pinky-orangey colour. They were cool as they were but dusty and tired looking. We went with painting them matte black in order to create a dramatic effect next to the fireplace. But that said, they also know how to just be without demanding too much attention.


Now we can clearly see the lovely shape that they are, and I really think we’ll get a lot more use out of them now that they look really slick.


Here they are on! I guess it’s a bit light out to see the full effect.


John couldn’t resist picking up the antlers that are now hanging on the fireplace. Nothing says cottage like antlers!

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Sasha Hayman Tapestry

August 12th, 2009


We spent all of Monday and Tuesday getting the cottage primed and painted and my hands are still covered in white paint. While we waited for the paint to dry (around 5pm, no less), we had our first swim of the season, after which we set about the task of putting the living room back together.

The big plus of getting all the walls painted was putting up this vintage tapestry we bought from the Queen West Antique Center. Also included in this picture is a pair of old snowshoes that belonged to Juli’s dad.


Juli’s dad would go hunting for rabbits with his wooden snow shoes and trusty dog “Sport”. We found them when we were cleaning out the loft space, among a few other treasures…


The tapestry works perfectly in our cottage. It reminds me of the reflection of the sun in the water during a sunset, which is perhaps why there is that wonderful red line diving the two spheres. The colours work within our scheme, the blue being almost identical to our two blue FDB Møbler chairs that sit at the heads of the dining table and the off white/red can be found throughout the rest of the living area.


The tapestry is probably from the 70s based on the style and condition. It was really cool to find out the artist is from London Ontario, I wonder if she’s still producing her work…sadly there is not much info on the internet.

I’d love to find out some more information if anyone out there knows of her.

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Cottage Update! We’re getting there…

August 3rd, 2009


Here’s a little sneak peak of the bathroom in progress! We’re so close to being finished, we just need to *paint the floors and trim, *find a cool shower curtain, * hang our new light properly, * paint the bathroom door, and finally hang up our cool medicine cabinet. We’re going up to the cottage today, and we’ll share some more pictures of the progress later this week!


We replaced the old fiberglass shower with a nice simple white tiled shower with vertical subway tiles. There were some structural issues with expanding the width, so we had to keep it on the small side. At least we got to increase the height quite a bit, and we layed the tiles vertically instead of horizontally to emphasize the increased height. The shower head is Kohler, I’ll have to get back to you on the model # and the price we paid for it (it looks like a trumpet!).


We decided on the very simple and very affordable Pegasus toilet which features a dual flush system. $149.99 at Home Depot
We also came up with a maple built in shelf to hold multiple rolls of toilet paper,  there is no storage space in this bathroom, so we came up with this easy and affordable solution.


Our new sink already has a new friend! (We still need to do some caulking)


The fir plywood is so beautiful!


Here’s one of the bedrooms, we still need to come up with a solution to remove the trim running along the edge of the ceiling, we just didn’t have a big enough plywood sheet to fill the gap between the ceiling and wall… We would obviously prefer it if it was completely flush. We’ll revisit this at some point today!


Here’s  our bedroom, the white against the plywood is looking great, but it’s still the same problem with the trim. We’re hoping we have a left over ply board to replace that tired looking trim.

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