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:


I intended on taking way better before pics but there was so much stuff everywhere it wasn’t possible anyway – plus, we just wanted to get started on the 80s style kitchen, fish tile back splash (this was a recent update, mind you), no counter space, useless mini double sink and 70s ceiling tiles.


Useless breakfast bar that just becomes a spot to put stuff, which there was WAY TOO MUCH OF.


The fish theme continues with the sconces, the fireplace insert seems out of place, and everything looks TIRED.


All this bulky furniture crammed into one side of the room.


The other side of the room had a giant pool table that was way past it’s prime. Cheap pool tables that sit in the sun for 30+ years warp and become no fun to play. John and I miraculously manhandled this baby out the door, down a steep set of stairs and up the path about 50 feet. Sheer will.


Sea themed bathroom, with blue fixtures! Storage = places to put things you don’t need and will never use. Solution = less storage means less junk. Hooray!


Juli’s old bedroom. All bed. Not even a queen sized bed either.


Oh and a dresser, full of clothes Juli never wore.

Anyway, we just wanted to remind you of what we initially were working with. And we have to say, it is with a massive sigh of relief that we finally detached ourselves from the past and unloaded all of this old, inappropriately sized furniture. Looking back, I can hardly believe the cottage is the same place. But it IS the same place, only fully realized. Open, airy and clutter free. We did it!

So you may all be asking, “what now, Juli & John?”. First we have a nice little wish list for next summer—window treatments, platform beds and a day bed, painting out the entranceway and some modernizing of the deck outside. But until then, we have some big things planned, from downsizing into a 1000 sq ft kinda crappy apartment, to opening what we expect to be a very cool boutique store selling some amazing furniture and accessories (we’ll have an online store as well, so don’t you worry), to eventually renovating our new apartment into the urban home we’ve always dreamed about. Stay tuned!

Filed under: Cottage Reno | 26 comments

26 Responses to 'The BIG Reveal!'

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  1. The cottage looks super guys! The color scheme is fab!


    27 Aug 09 at 12:34 am

  2. […] View original post here: KITKA design toronto » Blog Archive » The BIG Reveal! […]

  3. I was going to say – are you sure this is the same place? Wow, you’ve done a marvelous job! Those blue fish lamps made me laugh.. And I vote NO on painting the fireplace. For so many reasons… It’s a nice feature, white will probably get dirty from the fire and you CAN have too much white, I think.

    I hope you’ll have many happy moments in this fabulous place!


    27 Aug 09 at 7:50 am

  4. I’m GREEN with envy. Fantastic work!
    Your colour choices are amazing, the blue doors, red accents, the awesome rug, the fun blankets. I also love that you hung two fixtures over the table, not one.
    Don’t paint the fireplace, hold onto some rustic.
    Like I said in an earlier comment, you’ll definitely be featured in a shelter mag whether it’s H&H, Style At Home or even Dwell. Congratulations!


    27 Aug 09 at 8:52 am

  5. Spectacular!!! Give yourselves a few pats on the back! Really love how the kitchen turned out. And I especially love your use of plywood.


    27 Aug 09 at 8:58 am

  6. Beautiful space. Loks very scandinavian. Love it!


    27 Aug 09 at 10:07 am

  7. Lovely!
    Great work. When’s the Open House Weekend Sleepover Party for Readers and Creepers?


    27 Aug 09 at 11:35 am

  8. The cottage looks great. Every room looks beautiful. Great job.


    27 Aug 09 at 12:05 pm

  9. I love so much about this cottage! what a huuuuuge difference it is from how it used to be!!
    I really love that rug in sweden, and I love that the central gathering space is around the fire, and not a big screen TV (not that you would do that at a cottage!!) I like your little TV, it is just perfect!
    You are opening up a store?!?! I can’t wait to come visit!


    27 Aug 09 at 2:09 pm

  10. Beautiful. Something to consider re. the fireplace. Recently I read a post on on whitewashing brick. It looks amazing. It lightens the brick but preserves the patina.


    27 Aug 09 at 2:13 pm

  11. Johnny & Julie…. I have loved following your blog reading all your tales and adventures… you have done an awesome job on the cottage! Just so gorgeous. As for the fireplace… my vote is to keep it natural. ;-)

    Margo Shute

    27 Aug 09 at 3:55 pm

  12. I love how you resisted adding too much. the less is more is working so beautifully here and what you do have is perfect!

    the colour repetitions add a lovely flow from room to room. what an unbelievable transformation. you 2 make a great team!

    oh, I also vote to keep the fireplace as is. it works as a great foil to the sleek lines of the furnishings.


    27 Aug 09 at 4:37 pm

  13. Yaaay! Nice work guys! The plywood with the light wood baseboards make it look very clean and the colours make it cosy!
    I also really love that inset toilet paper shelf. Is there a room above the kitchen? My favorite is the cowboy and indian themed room which Daniel and I will claim the next time you have a get together ;)


    27 Aug 09 at 7:26 pm

  14. Wow – what an awesome reno. I love your Atomic finds. That’s a really great store. Can’t wait to visit your new store when it opens.


    27 Aug 09 at 10:01 pm

  15. Looks great guys!


    27 Aug 09 at 10:13 pm

  16. What a beautiful cottage and an amazing transformation. I love the ceiling and the white walls.
    I’m with Lorena on the fireplace – whitewashing it might be an interesting option to look at?


    28 Aug 09 at 6:59 am

  17. Congratulations Julie & John. The reno looks fantastic! The scandinavian approach certainly works really well with this type of country cottage.


    28 Aug 09 at 2:08 pm

  18. Sand blasting the stone on the fireplace would definitely help clean it up and bring it back to life. I would vote against painting it, but the white wash option mentioned above might look great too. Personally, I think it may become too much white, but you never know until you see it in person.

    Jessica W

    28 Aug 09 at 4:16 pm

  19. Congratulations you two! Especially love all the fir plywood with the white. Hope you will have some time to kick back and enjoy it all. And I do love the fireplace–great texture and tradition. I think the problem is the insert – the scale seems off. Perhaps you could consider painting it the same colour as the stone/grout and/or use a thicker piece of wood for the mantel.


    29 Aug 09 at 5:10 pm

  20. Fantastic job! You give hope to cheesy 1970’s Muskoka cottages everywhere. I love the fireplace unpainted – its a great link to the past.


    29 Aug 09 at 9:52 pm

  21. You blow my mind with what you achieve! This blog is a constant source of wonder for me. I love the ‘stories’ behind the items (eg the checked baggage medicine cabinet). Congratulations on the new store news as well! PS I’m voting for the fireplace to stay as is.

    Jo in NZ

    29 Aug 09 at 9:59 pm

  22. Wow! What an amazing cottage you have created! I have just started renovating my cabin on the Norwegian coast, and has a blog with a lot of Scandinavian style summer houses that inspires me -as well as pictures from our cabin (it´s a mess, but hopefully it will get better…). Would you mind if I post some pictures from your cottage (this post)?

    Thank you!


  23. Love the new look! It’s amazing. And, I must say, I’m kind of partial to the roughed up fireplace – it adds a certain history and charm!


    31 Aug 09 at 8:14 am

  24. What an awesome & inspiring before & after! Congratulations!
    Oh, and DON’T paint the fireplace! I love it just the way it is.

    S. Reed

    1 Sep 09 at 5:12 pm

  25. this is such an amazing space! i looked at it last week and it inspired me to go look at lake houses this weekend :-)


    17 May 10 at 8:27 am

  26. That’s very exciting brandeye! Just remember that the humblest of lake houses can be made incredible!


    18 May 10 at 12:40 pm

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