Design & DIY

Colin and Justin’s rustic reinvention of their master bedroom

OK, Canada, we get it. You love your cottages and cabins, and you love to escape from the city traffic and get closer to nature. Wood finishes are sacrosanct, canoeing is compulsory, and there’s no room design that can’t be improved with the addition of a wolf picture. So why, pray tell, are there so many cottages out there that look less like wilderness cabins and more like suburban bungalows? Yes, it’s out with the wallpaper and in with the timber as we tackle our upper bedroom…

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The master bedroom before being renovated


Moving on up to the attic galleried bedroom, this week’s cottage design challenge is all about celebrating the shape and original architecture of our cabin and remedying some of the design crimes of the past. In what was previously a case of a square peg in a triangular hole, the bedroom had a boxy feel with lowered ceiling, drywalled sides, orange pine cladding, and acres of shirt stripe wallpaper. The result? A squared off room that looked just like any other nondescript space. Removing the dividing walls and ceiling revealed a monumental peaked space with dramatic slopes and acute corner angles, the extra width and height serving to create a generously proportioned room with bags of character.

Colin Working
Colin tearing down the old walls and revealing the room’s wasted space


If you like your bedroom to be less sour and more ‘suite’, it’s worth creating space to add a dedicated bathroom. A bedroom with its own facilities really does feel indulgent, especially at the cottage, so we wasted no time in removing one side of the room to add on a dormer extension. This dramatically changed the external architecture and provided room for a built in wardrobe, media cupboard and ensuite shower room. We’ll share the shower room story with you next week.

The walnut stained pine ceiling added a mid-century modern feeling to the room


Choosing to line the entire ceiling with walnut-stained pine adds a mid-century modern feel to the bedroom, so we decided to run with it and add a Carl Hansen style chair and a black tri-armed Serge Mouille inspired floor lamp from MFKTO. The interesting thing about many of these so called “modern” items is that they’re probably older than this room’s previous décor, with the original Shell chair dating back to 1963!

Installing the barn doors
Installing the barn doors
The barn doors leading to the ensuite
The barn doors leading to the ensuite and cupboards


Further timber detail comes from the wall of barn doors—sourced, designed and fitted by one of our go-to suppliers Rebarn. We asked Mark from Rebarn to create a two row barn door system, akin to a sliding wardrobe, so that we could have two rear doors—one for each cupboard—and one central door to the shower room. The wood for this project was rescued from a dilapidated barn that used to sit opposite the Webers barbeque restaurant on Highway 11, with the rough deep grooves and metallic silvering of the timber created by over 100 years of Canadian seasons. One of our favourite features, the barn doors are practical, beautiful, and have a fine heritage that really adds character.

The glass railing system allows for an unobstructed view
The glass railing system allows for an unobstructed view


With our gallery style bedroom enjoying a loft style view over the living room and front windows, the last thing we wanted to do was create an obstruction, so our choice of banister and railings simply had to be glass.  We opted to match the outside of the cottage and use outdoor railings … indoors. Come on—why not mix things up and use outdoor things inside? It’s not like they’re going to be exposed to the elements, so they should remain beautiful for longer. The black frames and glass inserts of the Sunspace system matches the Euro Vinyl cottage windows perfectly and helps to define the rising staircase from living to bedroom.

Although we lifted, clad, painted and re-glazed our cottage, there was one thing we didn’t have to change: the original orientation. Positioned to face the lake and enjoy sunsets, the sweet spot worked well: we particularly liked how the breezes would gently blow through the house on the warmest of days, thanks to the front and back opening doors. Bug screens added to our new doors allow air to flow, even in the buggiest of seasons, while the Fan Shoppe central ceiling fans in the bedroom and living space silently pick up the breeze and circulate cool air as required. It’s Mother Nature’s own air conditioning system, albeit with a technological hand…

Colin and Justin’s bed and a sneak peek of the master bathroom


The main event, in any bedroom, is the bed—the central focal point of the room and a chance to make a style statement, add colour and of course … fall asleep! In keeping with the loft apartment feel, we added a statuesque brushed steel and timber bed from Artemano and paired it up with two striking bedside tables (again from Artemano) featuring petrified timber caged in steel.  The look is very modern but still manages to feel friendly, thanks to the layers of faux fur (from Urban Barn) woolen throws, birch twig motif bedding, and a scattering of Homesense cushions and a Homesense rug.

The finished master bedroom
The finished master bedroom


So there you have it: a rustic reno’ reinvention and futurist look at cottage style. A simple recipe that puts the wood in and the wallpaper out. One that uses classic design from the 1960’s, recycles a century old barn, employs statement furnishings and—above all—takes this once boxy bedroom kicking and screaming out of its box.

Watch the latest episodes of Colin and Justin’s Cabin Pressure below and stay tuned for new episodes, Sunday at 9pm et/pt. Find your channel here.