How to build a gazebo

As soon as the hammering began, interest around the bay was piqued. First, a pedal boat cruised by; the pedallers had heard construction noise and wanted to see what was going on. Their compliments were enough to make this old builder’s heart swell with pride. Then a neighbour showed up in her bowrider. Now she wants one for her place. And according to Enid and Doug— the owners of the project—there has been a virtual parade of curious boaters ever since.
The inspiration for this “outdoor room” project came from an unusual direction—in cottage country anyway: the traditional buildings of Bali, Indonesia. There, the typical living space is an open, roofed pavilion with a raised floor, called a bale. Like an old-fashioned, one-room cottage, these uncomplicated, elegant structures are used for just about everything—eating, sleeping, working, lounging, and conversation. In public spaces, some are used for music and dance performances, others as temples.

We kept some Balinese hallmarks—the wide, flared eaves for shade and rain cover, the floor raised to bench height, the uncomplicated, four-square layout for maximum versatility—and used traditional Canadian cottage materials, such as cedar shakes for the roof instead of thatch. As well, we added a hidden, mouse-resistant storage box that’s roomy enough for stowing an air mattress, some folding chairs, your yoga mat, or a couple of trashy novels and some sunscreen. In the end, this outdoor room is an eye-catching hybrid that will fi t your cottage lifestyle because, well, it adapts easily to your own favourite activities.

Click here to download the plans.

How to add a ground level deck

A ground-level deck is a quick project that adds extra floor space to the Cottage Life gazebo or anywhere you need a flat surface around the cottage. We built an L-shaped deck around two sides of the gazebo. Of course, you could add a deck of any size and shape you like.

Unless you’re covering a large area or the ground is very soft, you don’t need to worry about footings; 4×4 posts sitting on concrete patio stones or bare rock will be fine. But with wood sitting this close to the soil, be sure to use pressure-treated lumber for the structural members, and apply end-cut preservative wherever your saw blade exposes untreated wood.

Materials list

  • 9 2×6 x 8′ pressure-treated spruce: joists
  • 4 2×6 x 14′ pressure-treated spruce: joists
  • 2 4×4 x 8′ pressure-treated spruce: posts
  • 9 5/4×6 x 10′ cedar or pressure-treated spruce: decking
  • 9 5/4×6 x 14′ cedar or pressure-treated spruce: decking

Hardware list

  • 100 #10 x 3 1/2″ deck screws
  • 400 #8 x 3″ deck screws
  • 24 5/16″ x 4 1/2″ galvanized lag bolts and washers

Assembly instructions

1.From the pressure-treated spruce 2×6, cut the pieces for the deck as indicated in the plan.

2.Layout and assemble the frame using #10 x 3 1/2″ deck screws.

3.Cut about twelve 2′ lengths (the lay of the land will affect this measurement) out of scrap wood. With a helper, raise and level each corner in turn and screw (or clamp) the scraps to the frame to hold them in place. Depending on your layout, you may have to trim some of the projecting ends off the beams that support the gazebo floor. Check again that everything is square. Once you have your deck elevated and level, measure and cut 4×4 posts to fit the height and terrain and lag bolt—two per post—in place. Remove the temporary supports.

4.Cut the 5/4 deck boards to length, leaving enough for a 1/2″ overhang all around. Screw to the deck frame with two #8 x 3″ screws per joist. Stain or paint.


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