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Outdoor cottage upgrades to invest in before summer

No cottage is ever complete. From humble beginnings as rustic retreats to modern embellishments like bunkies and indoor bathrooms, our cottages are constantly evolving. But while upgrades like insulated attics and new water systems add lasting value, have you ever sat back and admired the R-value of your cottage windows?

Improving your cottage’s structural elements may be important for its long-term value, but there are plenty of “here and now” investments that can make a drastic difference in your time at the lake. So to help you enjoy every moment of our too-short summer, and to ensure you and your guests get that “wow” feeling every time you arrive for the weekend, we’ve compiled some upgrades that can give any cottage a touch of luxury. No contractor required. Just remember that the pandemic has placed a premium on outdoor spaces, so the time to act is now. 

Elevate your outdoor seating

How many people does your cottage sleep? It’s a top-of-mind question when we’re inviting friends and family to spend the weekend. But while sleep is essential, having stylish, comfortable seating for everyone—or even a cozy place to stretch out on the deck during a rare summer weekend without visitors—is just as important. Muskoka chairs might be part of our decor DNA, but cottagers with plenty of guests might consider more modern, multi-seat options like outdoor sofas and sectionals. If teak ticks your boxes, a durable, timeless design like Canadian-owned ARD’s Coventry collection is the perfect way to blend your cottage’s natural surroundings with a little creature comfort.

Light your way

There’s something about that moment when the lights go out, the fire dies down, and we gaze up at a star-scattered sky. The universe feels bigger, and our problems feel smaller. The stars might shine brighter over cottage country, but adding modern lighting to our outdoor seating areas can give an extra warmth that extends our crisp cottage nights. And while “Patio Lanterns” might be a permanent feature of our cottage playlist, outdoor lighting has evolved beyond their kitschy glow. For a more rustic yet modern vibe, try ARD’s Sonnenglas LED solar lanterns—or illuminate your seating area with diffuse light from a Vondom globe.

Entertain in style

We have a philosophy for cottage meals. Breakfast should be simple and often solo (why should everyone wake up early for eggs?), lunch should be grab-and-go, and dinner should get all the glory. Whether you spend your day hiking to the beach, skimming across the lake, or grabbing ice cream and a good book in town, there’s nothing like coming together to prepare and enjoy a big meal before the sun sets—especially when you can dine outdoors on a table with comfortable seating that complements the view. Make a statement—and invest in something that lasts—with a stylish extension table like ARD’s Marlo. Or try the Monza, which seats ten comfortably.

Throw some shade

We live for a sunny day—until our arugula starts wilting during lunch on the deck. No outdoor-dining setup feels complete without a little sun protection, and depending on your landscape, you might need to provide that shade yourself. But since some umbrellas can ruin views of the lake, a little indulgence might be in order. A market umbrella is a simple option that helps everyone keep their cool during a meal, while a cantilever model like ARD’s Orion casts shade over a seating area without any intrusion, and thanks to its granite base, it can withstand a strong breeze off the lake. For something even more upscale, enjoy your afternoon cocktails beneath a Tuuci umbrella.

Upgrade your downtime

The hammock holds a special place in every cottager’s heart. It’s the breezy, swaying spot where naps are taken, novels are devoured, and sunsets are appreciated. Most importantly, a thoughtfully placed hammock is the perfect excuse to enjoy some crucial “alone time” when the guest list overflows. If a high-end hammock suits your style, try ARD’s Fatboy Headdemock, whose included stand spares your trees. It might accommodate two people for tandem naps, but you don’t have to tell anyone that. And a hammock isn’t the final word in cottage relaxation. A covered daybed offers an extra touch of both class and privacy. And since no cottager can resist a classic A-frame, try the Vondom Vineyard Triangle Daybed, which feels like an upscale take on the triangular pup tents we retreated to after roasting marshmallows as kids.

Ready to upgrade your time outdoors? Shop the full list of durable, cottage-ready collections at ARD Outdoor.