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Insight from a Muskoka Builder: Must-Have Design Features for Your Custom Cottage

Insight from a Muskoka Builder: Must-Have Design Features for Your Custom Cottage

Your new custom cottage needs to feed the whole crew, store everything effortlessly, keep every guest comfortable, and clean up like a dream. Versatility is a must. You never know what a day on the lake might bring! Designing a custom cottage in Muskoka is different from a primary residence. You live, play, cook, and clean differently at the lake, and you need a cottage built to help you do that seamlessly. 

Ballantyne Builds focuses entirely on second homes. We build cottages for a living. We’re pleased to provide insight into must-have cottage design features to help you plan your new home away from home!

Need more proof or inspiration? Check out our jaw-dropping photos from recent builds.

There are custom home-building trends for 2023, and then there are cottage-building trends. While there’s much overlap, cottage style is a bit more niche and timeless. Here are the top design features recommended by builders in Muskoka.

Your Muskoka Builder’s Favorite Custom Kitchen Features

Pull-Outs That Work

Custom or semi-custom kitchen cabinets for your cottage kitchen open up a world of options for efficient storage and retrieval.

You might have more people with more stuff, but use it less often at the cottage. That means impeccable organization is a must. Here are some of our top suggestions for your custom cabinet pullouts.

  • Charging Drawer

  • Spice Rack

  • Compost Drawer

  • Toe-Kick Storage Drawer

  • Super or Sliding Susan

  • Narrow Baking Sheet Storage

  • Built-in Step Stool or Library Ladder

  • Pull-Out Prep Spaces (tables, cutting boards, etc.)

Breakfast Nook

Include an out-of-the-way spot for lazy cups of coffee and cozy conversation. A breakfast nook gives options for casual dining if you’ve also got a larger table for bigger affairs. 

Double Dishwasher

If you plan to entertain often or host the whole family, don’t let the dishes pile up in the sink and spoil the vibe. Load one unit while the other one runs. Alternating between dishwashers keeps your vacation home tidy. We’re seeing this trend across kitchens of all kinds, but we think it makes extra sense when your relaxation matters most.

Must-Haves for Muskoka Cottage Bathrooms

Storage For Days

Cottage bathrooms need the necessities on hand and plenty of storage for extra towels and personal items. Many clients are happy they built in extra bathroom storage, and sorry they didn’t include more.

Extra-Large Vanity

A big vanity isn’t vain. Extra space for folks to get ready for an outing, brush their teeth, or clean up after big fun on the water helps everyone share a cottage bathroom peacefully.

Walk-in Shower

Walk-in showers serve various purposes in a cottage bathroom. Older adults or those with mobility limitations will find your walk-in shower delightfully accessible, a roomy shower space allows adults to assist messy kids, and provides plenty of room to clean up after a busy day of cottage fun.

Favorite Outdoor Design Features in the Muskoka Lakes Area

Outdoor Kitchen

Get grilling like you mean it! Outdoor kitchens include prep space, multiple grills for unique purposes, storage, refrigerators, and more. Keep the whole affair outside with an outdoor kitchen for your cottage.

Fantastic Fire Feature

There’s nothing like a tale shared around a fire. Whether you’re building fire bowls into your deck, creating a classic firepit, or investing in a stately outdoor fireplace, you’ll be glad to have a place to roast your favourite camp food and spend some time unplugged with good company!

Decadent Deck

Take in the view and enjoy the outdoor air from your personalized deck. Consider adding distinct zones with seating, including at least one dining area, to provide options for groups to gather naturally.

Delightful Dock

Ballantyne Builds will happily create your dream dock along with your custom cottage. Build a slip for every boat, and consider dock seating, a dining area, or built-in planters to invite everyone to enjoy the lake in style. 

Cool Home Features for Your Luxury Cottage

Charging Stations and Hidden Outlets

Eliminate the squabble over outlets and chargers. Provide plenty of outlets where you’ll need them most and tuck them in unassuming places, such as inside drawers and behind built-ins. Consider a custom charging drawer to keep your devices ready-to-go and ultra-organized.

Places for Pets

Your furry family should be at home at the holiday house too. Build a pet-washing station in the mudroom, pull-outs for pet bowls, built-in crates or pet beds, and safety gates to equip yourself with everything you need to make it a vacation for your pets as well.

Super-Secret Spaces

Add security and a bit of whimsy at the same time. Conceal your walk-in pantry with cabinet doors, add a secret room behind a bookcase, and build in a hidden drawer or a floor safe. Customized hidden spaces are great for cottages.

Different Styles of Cottages

You have many options when selecting a theme or aesthetic for your new cottage. Here are some of the most popular kinds of cottages we see in Muskoka.

Modern Cottage Home

Clean lines, thoughtful geometric shapes, uninterrupted surfaces, and no-frills adornment create simplicity that can be well-suited to your lake house. The modern aesthetic is a popular choice for luxury cottages in the Muskoka Lakes area.

Vintage-Eclectic Cottage

Retro themes are right at home at the cottage. Since many cottages are shared between families and passed down through generations, they tend to collect vintage elements as the years go by. Lend your new cottage a little instant street cred by incorporating timeless elements that suggest vintage roots, like brass plumbing and classic subway tile.

Transitional Cottage

We see many new cottages that incorporate nature-inspired elements, such as wood accents, timber beams, and stone, with modern finishes and furniture to create a transitional design style. We love when cottages combine warn nods to the surrounding landscape with modern features that are timeless. 

Ready to Make Your Muskoka Cottage Dreams Real?

Whether you choose to be more rustic or modern, we’re the right partners to help you build the perfect Muskoka cottage for how you plan to play. Ballantyne Builds would be honoured to connect with you. Reach out today!

Cost Guide: Building a Custom Cottage in Muskoka Version A