Colin and Justin reveal their cottage’s new living room

Published: June 18, 2015 · Updated: June 22, 2017

Although the end is near (yup, this is the last room in the cottage) the drama continues. Starting from the stairs up…!

Finally, our renovation is drawing to a close. Walls have been painted, floors laid, and windows replaced. Oh, and an almost complete rebuild has taken place to include a new roof, new basement installation and full landscaping. A cast off cabin has been reclaimed, reborn and reinvented as “Grey Gardens,” our very own hideaway in the woods and our own little slice of the Haliburton Highlands. It’s all just so, well, so dreamy double dip drop drawers gorgeous. We’re so happy with the fruits of our labour—even if the monolithic transformation nearly killed us. And of course our team.

Colin and Justin's cottage, 'Grey Gardens'
Colin and Justin’s cottage, ‘Grey Gardens’


So it seems extra fitting that we should end on the “living room”—a term we’ve always questioned: isn’t every room a room for living? But hey, the moniker ‘living room’ seems particularly appropriate due to the fact that, here, more than in any other room, the focus is on life. Aye, it’s all about open concept space where relaxing, dining, and cooking coexist under the gaze of tall trees, rippling lake and wildlife, all of which lie just beyond the huge expanse of glass at the front of our cottage.

Living Room Before 1
The original living room


Changing the windows did more than just reglaze the building, it reinvented our cottage. Swapping the dated panes of the past for larger, black framed Euro Vinyl windows transformed our cottage from spectacled geek, to full fashion eyewear chic. The cottage looks little short of amazing from the outside. And on the inside, the living room is bathed in light and lavished with panoramic views that create the ultimate season by season living feature wall. In this room, nature is décor.

Living Room After 13
The new windows and doors offer a great view


Creating an efficient room for all seasons requires insulation and a precision approach to build quality. Thankfully Randy Blain and his team create homes where a meticulous finish is paramount: the only draughts in our cottage are played as a board game. Flexibility and control-ability of environment is key—we aspire to being warm in the winter and cool in the summer. To this end, a Stuv 30 Compact wood stove sits at the centre of the rear wall, creating its own focal point and somewhere to nest to when temperatures plunge.

Installing screened windows on all sides allows breezes to whisper through the cottage on warm days, helped along by ceiling fans from The Fan Shoppe to keep things cool. It’s worth noting that, when purchasing a ceiling fan, you should investigate just how quiet (or not) the mechanism is—that way you won’t be disturbed as you slumber gently on warmer nights. Our fan Shoppe selection whirs silently to ensure noise bleed is never an issue.

Living Room After 4
New fans hanging from a traditional wood ceiling


Traditional cottages are all about wood, and, as a homage to the past, we clad out the peaked ceiling in walnut stained pine and laid “Barbican” wide planks by Kentwood, on all floors to provide continuity and increase the feeling of space. The timber “sandwich” effect works particularly well in this double height room, proffering, as it does, a modern church aesthetic—it really is a miracle, though, that we actually got to the end of this reno before winter fully arrived.

The sitting area


Furniture is spaced into two areas—sitting and dining—with a relaxed brown leather sofa from Urban Barn providing comfort and the familiar lived-in look you get with soft brown leather. Adding to the mix, we used a pair of mid-century Redford style chairs from MFKTO, to flank the stove and provide a relaxed take on modernity. A reclaimed munitions box from Smash, Toronto is wall mounted to create an explosive wall storage unit and a real talking point.

The dining area


In the dining room, boundaries are set with a grey metal console from CB2 and Ikea desk lamps lighting the way. The live edged dining table from Artemano delivers wow factor and, clustered with Wegner style wishbone chairs from MFKTO, the look of mid-mod and modern nature creates its own identity. We enjoy sitting here writing our newspaper columns and blogs; the view is breathtaking. Suffice to say, we’re often drawn away from the task at hand by the incredible vista and by wildlife and changing weather at the lake. If you read between the lines, you’ll know we’ve just shared the sincerest excuse for missing deadlines. Sorry, editors!

Living Room After 5
New railings and an upcycled floor lamp


Owning a cottage has brought out the best in us and in how we approach design. This observed, we can’t close this season of Cabin Pressure without a spot of upcycling—our ongoing obsession, a fixation that ensures we make the best out of what’s available. Every evening when we turn our black floor lamp on, we reminisce at how it started life as the cottage’s old TV aerial mast! Cut to lamp height, rewired, painted, and topped with a smart shade, it looks like a mini Eiffel Tower but cost virtually nothing. Positioned to the side of the ultra chic black framed glazed stair railings from Sunspace, the look is clean, contemporary, and perfectly defined.

The finished room


We can honestly say that, delivering Grey Gardens, we’ve had the most enjoyable and rewarding experience ever. Working with the incredible team of people who helped us realize our dream cottage in the woods has been a blast. To the planning and drawing angels, the sunroom installers, bunkie builders, landscapers, painters, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, tilers, roofers, deck builders (and many other trades) right through to the talented team who filmed our adventures and shared it with you on the Cottage Life channel—we say THANK YOU. And to all of you for watching and reading—THANK YOU. If you’re in the area, come on by. Just make sure you bring a bottle. We DO like the odd tipple.

Watch the Season 2 finale of Colin and Justin’s Cabin Pressure below or watch episodes on Cottage Life TV, Sundays at 9pm et/pt. Find your channel here.