Design & DIY

“Here comes the sunroom” with Colin and Justin

OK, we’re gonna say this right here, right now: Canadians are obsessed with the weather. Even more so than Brits, and that’s saying something. Yup, the attendant highs and lows—pertaining to all things meteorological—is a hot topic of conversation in Canada because of a climate that’s just just so darned unpredictable.

Let’s be honest: last year’s late summer weather was weird. Working as we were at the lake, trying to orchestrate a major cottage reno, there were times when we literally prayed to the great weather gods for a period of calm respite. Four seasons in one day had nothing on us.

So imagine the delight when our allotted timetable to build a sunroom looked like it might somehow align with a period of bright, sunny early fall weather. Sounds perfect, huh? Glorious days for a sunroom installation: what could possibly go wrong?

The finished sunroom as seen from the cottage exterior


Weather issues aside, let’s consider why we aspired to an addition in the first place. How can we put this? Adding a sunroom at the cottage is like adding maple syrup to bacon—it just makes sense. Having a bug proof screened porch provides a secondary living space to enjoy cool breezes in summer and shelter from spotty showers on drizzly days like those with which we’re woefully familiar in the Haliburton Highlands.

As followers of the “go big or go home” philosophy, we decided to add a timber-framed, pitched-roof extension and to take it to the next level as the ultimate sunroom. We sited our 400 sq. ft. indoors/outdoors dream room to the side of our main living space so we could enjoy a combined double living room / dining / kitchen configuration. The L-shape addition not only benefits from being where breezes blow through—it also changes the architecture of the A frame, making the entire cabin feel significantly larger.

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The sunroom’s timber framing being constructed


Working through plans with Jodanne Aggett from the architecture and design department at Haliburton Timbermart (a fantastic resource for all things construction related) made life easy. Jodanne, you see, has first-hand knowledge of the area and, as we always say, “local knowledge is power.”

Jodanne’s exacting skill set made the planning process an absolute synch. When she and we settled on size, ceiling pitch, and so on, we submitted plans to the township for approval and then drafted in the team from Discovery Dream Homes (a celebrated builder with a great reputation) to construct the timber frame and roof. Cape Cod siding was applied to the extension (to match the main house) and the results, we hope, speak for themselves.

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Working through the cold and wet conditions


Continuity of finish makes the entire cottage seem so much larger as our photography amply attests. But then, just as we were getting into our stride, it all started to go wrong. Damn you, Mother Nature! As we stood in front of the house surveying the install, we had to watch our lovely team getting drenched by torrential rain. Holy crap: six weeks of unbelievably changeable weather had just begun.

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Installing the screens


Being major fans of the Sunspace Weathermaster screened porch system, we called the talented team at Nortech, our local supplier/installer, and asked them to pencil a site visit. The day they arrived, the mercury’s vertiginous ascent was at full force (yup, after all that rain and cold) and the prospect of a sunroom install was thrilling.

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The new stacking door system in action


Imagine our lil’ Scottish faces when they suggested a prototype fold away door system. Wow!  In a nutshell, the concertina portals meant we could have bug screens to dodge entomological invasion and clear vinyl panels to keep the rain (and, ahem, the snow) at bay. Plus, the option to fold back the lake-facing elevation (almost in its entirety) as and when required. Result!

Shopping for an amazing granite floor from Van Dyk Stone, black tubular wall lights from Home Depot, and furniture from Artemano (a favourite C&J store—check out the Castlefield branch for inspiration) got our design juices flowing. And the comfy wicker-framed sofa and the woven occasional chairs we chose really set the scene, huh?

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The styled sunroom


Nearing the finish line, we battled a path to Homesense and Ikea for a selection of gorgeous accessories. The room complete, we set our date to finish and reveal the room for the Cabin Pressure television show. Confident we could enjoy the warmer tail-end of fall—and maybe even a few nights relaxing in our new sunroom—we settled into the weekend and breathed a sigh of relief.

And so it came to pass that, with the film crew arriving on Monday, the Canadian weather decided to act up. Again. Yup, Mother Nature timed our reveal with her first snowfall of the year. And not just a few spotty flakes—we’re talking several days of heavy snow.

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The sunroom was finished just before an early snowfall


There was so much snow, in fact, that we had to concede to Mother Nature’s chilly fingers—and perform a decorative handbrake. Yup, suddenly our sunroom (to make sense, for our TV show, of the unexpected white backdrop) was transformed, at our behest, into a winter chalet. Let’s just say our reveal ended up looking more like Iceland than Ibiza. Aye, before long we were hanging skis on the wall and layering everything with faux furs and touchy feely throws…

And so began seven harsh months of snowy conditions. We jest ye not. Which just goes to show that Canadian cottaging really is, ahem, “cool.” Oh, and did we mention the weather?

Watch back-to-back episodes of Colin and Justin’s Cabin Pressure Sundays at 8:30am et/5:30am pt. Find your channel here.