For more than 6 years, the Gemini award-winning Bryan Baeumler has been educating and entertaining viewers about DIY and home improvement on shows such as Disaster DIY, House of Bryan, and House of Bryan on the Rocks, the latest documenting one of his toughest construction challenges yet: building a custom cottage from scratch on an island. Check out our interview with Baeumler to find out how he made decisions about building his dream cottage on Georgian Bay and what he plans to do there now that it’s done.
Cottage Life: Once the cottage was built, what was the first thing you wanted to do there?
Bryan Baeumler: By the time we finished building, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I was looking forward to just kicking back on the dock in a Muskoka chair and having a nap, but we plan on building a very thick book of great family memories.
CL: There’s lots of work that goes into maintaining a cottage. What’s been your least favourite job so far? What about your favourite?
BB: It’s the post-weekend dragging of the garbage and recyclables to the transfer station that I enjoy the least. My favorite part is definitely cleaning up the land and forest surrounding the cottage—I can pick up sticks forever!
CL: In building your dream cottage, what was the number one thing on your must-have list?
BB: There were a lot of must haves, like amazing views and a large deck to relax on, but the big one was heated slate floors. The slate is rough and resilient so you don’t have to pull off your shoes every time you come in or worry about damaging it. Every single tile in the cottage sits on a nuheat mat, which means that in the winter, your feet and the entire cottage are nice and warm.
CL: Picking an island location for your cottage led to some of the challenges you faced in construction. Why did you choose a water-access place and now that you have it, was it worth it?
BB: Definitely worth it! Arriving by boat to the cottage makes it feel a little more isolated, and as far as I’m concerned the destination is always more enjoyable when the journey has a few challenges built into it. Would I do it again? That’s a more complex question. It was without a doubt the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on, but also the most rewarding.
CL: Any tales of woe or warning you’d like to share with first-time cottage builders?
BB: Like any build, no matter how well you plan ahead it will take longer and cost more than you anticipate. Be ready for that, and remember that you’re not just building a cottage, you’re building a place to make memories for your family. When the bills pile up, the days march on, and you run into the inevitable stumbling blocks, don’t forget to take some time to actually enjoy the journey.
CL: Lots of families have traditions at the cottage—are there any you had growing up that you’ll bring to your cottage, now that you have a family of your own?
BB: There are a few great board games that were always reserved for the dining table at the cottage; I’m looking forward to those games with my own family, and many dinners with family and friends around the table at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We’re also excited for lots of campfires under the stars, roasting marshmallows, and long naps in the afternoon sun. You know, the kind of stuff we all brave the 400 traffic for!
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