Cottage Tour: Lake Simcoe surf pad (it can be yours!)

By Michelle Kelly »Michelle Kelly

November 4th, 2010


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I just had a great chat with Toronto-based photographer and Cottage Life contributor David Bagosy. The topic? His 1950s era bungalow cottage on Lake Simcoe. Purchased four years ago as a spot to partake in his windsurfing passion, the cottage has been a labour of love for David ever since. He’s done a ton of DIY work on the place, and filled it with furniture and decor that he’s collected or inherited over the years. “When I first saw it, I liked that it was open concept and its clean lines,” he says. But that’s not to say that it was in turn-key condition. He had to look deep into the future to see what the place could become, and perform many hours of hard labour to get it there. Here’s one shot of what the interior looked like before:


And here’s what that same interior looked like after:


Yes, the angle is definitely different, but the space is the same. Quite a difference, isn’t it? David yanked out the old brick fireplace/storage unit and replaced it with slate tile on the floor and wall, adding a new, cleaner-burning woodstove to keep him toasty. It’s a fine example of how making one, large-impact change to a room can completely redefine its entire look and feel. You might say he’s gone from mid-century modern run-down, to mid-century modern wow. I also love that he’s added a few interesting hits of colour to contrast against the gray; the orange light (liberated from friends who didn’t want it anymore), and the green pillows, for instance.

David’s DIY efforts are also on fine display out front, specifically in the deck. When he moved in, the deck was a basic concrete slab tacked on to the exterior, clad in cedar planks that were covered with thick brown paint:


Although much of the wood was rotting, David was reluctant to pitch it all out, or to rebuild a new deck from scratch. “I didn’t want to pay to get rid of all that concrete, and it’s not great for the environment to do that anyway,” he says. So, he removed each board, and reripped them to get rid of the rot that had crept around the edges. He was left with a pile of custom boards, all of different widths, which he then used to recover the concrete and the front of the stairs. “It was a lot of work,” he says. “I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but I like doing that sort of thing. It was like a giant puzzle.” The result remains true to the original character of the cottage, but with a contemporary vibe–I love the horizontal slat railings on each end:

David also used elbow grease to bring the master bedroom back to life. It’s original interior featured the hallmark of many a 50s-era bungalow: fake wood panelling. It made the room really dark, so of course he did what all smart decorators do: He broke out his paint brush. Another great move was using a bright greenish yellow to make one wall pop. When finished, it almost looks like a giant headboard:

Master bedroom

A coat of paint also went a long way in the bathroom, which was originally white tile that had long-ago past its prime. Covered in a slate gray, the tiles look refreshed and modern. And I love the way they’ve used tree cookies as a perch for flowers in the corner. Way to bring the outside in!

The cottage was originally built in 1955 and then rebuilt after a fire in the mid-60s. By chance, David had access to furniture from that same era—he accepted as hand-me-downs from his parents much of the same furniture that he grew up with in his family home. It suits the clean, open lines perfectly:



The original kitchen, as you can see here, was quite dingy and outdated:


Out went the ceiling fan (I guess the old owners weren’t very tall?) and massive brown fridge that was “the width of my arm span,” recalls David. He ditched the fridge to cut down on considerable energy costs (among other reasons) replacing it with a more modern stainless version. I think that much of the success of this room’s makeover comes from the new lighting, including the added undercounter task lights that illuminate the countertops, and the two stainless pendant lamps—from Ikea—that hang over the island. I was quite impressed by the backsplash in the after photo, thinking that it was high-end and brand new. But no: It is glass, but original to the cottage, spiffed up with a good scrub. He also updated the hardware on the original custom cupboards:


All in all, I think this cottage is a perfect example of how you can really bring a building back to life (or back to the present) by making a few calculated changes. And by putting in your best efforts, of course. I hope you’ll find this project as inspirational as I did!

If you really love it, I’ve got more good news for you: It’s for sale! If you’d like to know more about it, click here for the details.

(Photos courtesy David Bagosy.)

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