As Colin and Justin redesigned another guest bedroom, they found literally hundreds of dead mice. And so, as work progressed, would it be sweet dreams for the designer duo or just one big animal-infested-bedroom nightmare?
In our latest quest for the perfect guest room, we had to get rid of some very unwanted “guests.” Yup, our mouse mausoleum by the lake was fast becoming less of a pet project and more like a pet cemetery. Jeesh.
Although the cottage was loved by the previous owner, a period during which it lay empty tipped the scales in favour of the original inhabitants of cottage country. Damnation: Mother Nature properly gained access. As such, we were left to deal with a guest book “signed” (okay, pooped upon) by Haliburton’s mice, squirrel, wasp, and ant contingent. Imagine being the chambermaid in that particular hostelry.
In one guest room corner, the putrid smell of death (really, if you’d smelled it, you’d describe it that way too) was particularly strong. Hmm. When our contractor Randy Blain removed the drywall, we waited with bated breath to see what surprises lurked beneath. Imagine, if you will, two upright timber struts spaced apart to hold the drywall in place – then imagine a gap at the top where literally several hundred mice had fallen into a void.
Now visualize a 4 ft. chamber of strange grey insulation – “fluff” that had once been Mickey, Minnie and friends. Holy crap; the pong was unbelievable: Randy and we literally ran to the garden to escape the rancid stench. Our stomachs retched as we encountered a case of “building bulimia” – yup, a room so bad it actually made us sick.
With the evils ‘exorcised’ and a jolly good clean up, we were finally able to get on with the job at hand. First task on our hit list? To increase “connection” to the great outdoors and offer prospective visitors a chance to feel like they were sleeping in the forest.
To achieve this, we removed the entire rear wall and replaced it with a custom glazed unit from Euro Vinyl Windows, a fantastic modern window manufacturer who just happen to be neighbours on our lake.
Adding a decked area – and a café table and chairs from Ikea – to the rear creates what’s essentially an indoor/outdoor suite, with guests now able to enjoy a comfortable bedroom and personal seating area beyond. The increased natural light feels uplifting, and the chance to awaken when the sun rises gives guests the best start to their day.
We’re all about décor that’s forward thinking – but still respectful of the past – so to create a modern aesthetic we opted for white painted drywall “topped and tailed” with timber. The resultant mood is clean and expansive but demonstrates an appreciation for the use of timber in the traditional cottage style. The Barbican brushed oak engineered timber flooring by Kentwood is a great choice: the oiled finish adds a “heritage” vibe, while the 8” boards create a feeling of extra floor width. It’s worth noting that the timber ceiling was skillfully cut to butt perfectly against the white drywall – no beading required! Detail, right? The results are modern and perfect proof that, in design, sometimes – just sometimes – less is more.
When planning overhead lighting, ask your electrician what’s possible before ordering new fixtures. Our “spark” Scott from Stinson Electrical looked at the overhead beams then advised the best position for pot lights. Spacing them out to follow the shape of the room works well, but ensure you leave enough clearance between lights and your centre fan to avoid light “strobing” as the blades rotate.
In white painted rooms, furniture and accessories dictate mood: here, starting with the bed, we repeated the combination of timber, white, and black. Taking a quick break from our reno, we dashed to Artemano to find a wooden bed with a modern sensibility. The clean lines and graduated timber “stripe” provide warmth. As a whimsical touch, we specified organically shaped wooden stools (which we topped with glass to extend their surface area) as bedside tables. The anglepoise lighting comes from the office range at Ikea – it’s fun to shop around and mix things up to create an individual look.
One of our favourite pastimes in cottage country is trawling around antique barns and thrift stores. We call this “mousing about” and, when a trip to Lambs & Ivy in nearby Gelert uncovered a few antique books and wooden ducks, we just had to incorporate them into our guest room design. A trip to Homesense provided glass display boxes, and a marriage of old and new was born as duck, book and an antique baseball learned to box clever atop a four-drawer Ikea unit that we painted black.
Several months on, various houseguests have been made welcome at Grey Gardens (the name with which we’ve christened our cottage) and so far (fingers crossed) there have been no sightings of unwelcome scuttling guests. Our renovated Scottage (Scottish/cottage – geddit?) has new siding to keep mice at bay, screened windows and a screened sunroom to keep bugs out, several “sonic” rodent plug-ins (discretely placed in each room) and a strict approach to crumb control and food storage.
Sitting in the cottage typing this blog, we’re reminded just how good life at the lake actually is. It’s bliss: the sun’s going down over the water, the Rioja has just been uncorked and the cutest lil’ red squirrel is scampering up a nearby tree. So we’re striking a deal with our bushy tailed pal. If he sticks to the forest, we’ll stick to our cottage. Be warned – if we see even one paw print on our new cedar deck… nuts are gonna fly!