Living lakeside, alongside a fun mix of summer cottages and year-round homes, has shaped my life in profound and unexpected ways. When my Hubby and I moved into our modest bungalow with our pup, Szuka, we kept living our lives the way we had when we lived in a townhouse in a much larger city. It took us awhile to get accustomed to “Lake Time”. We’d wake up to a gloriously sunny Saturday and promise ourselves that after we cut the grass, weeded the garden, and brought the garbage to the landfill we’d hop into the lake for a quick swim or paddle around the bay in our canoe, only to find ourselves driven inside by a mid-afternoon thunder shower. Eventually, we learned that when it’s a nice day on the lake, you enjoy the lake – no matter what chores or responsibilities await on shore! That’s the essence of cottage living: you make time to relax, slow down, and enjoy what’s around you.
Because not everyone can – or even wants to – live in cottage country, I’ve got some great ideas for how to make a city space feel like a cottage home.
Light a Fire
Nothing says summer at the cottage like a bonfire! There are so many easy DIY fire pit tutorials online (here’s how my Handy Hubby and I made our fire pit) so it’s easy to find the perfect plans. Taking the time to build one can make even the smallest yard feel like cottage acreage. If wood fire pits aren’t permitted where you live, try one of the many amazing gas fire pits available on the market. Even lighting a few candles on those long summer nights and making s’mores in the oven can bring those cottage vibes home.
Add Some Beachy Textures
Can’t go to the beach? Bring the beach home! My decorating style has definitely changed since moving to the lake and I find myself favouring beach-inspired finishes and natural textures like stone and wood. A beautiful driftwood mirror, a few throw pillows in beachy hues, or glossy reflective surfaces that echo beach glass all lend a subtle beach vibe to any décor. Scour thrift stores and antique shops for vintage buoys and paddles to use as objet d’art. This Hidden Treasures Root Ball coffee table would be perfect! Love that cabin in the woods vibe instead? Look for warm rich woods, cozy wool blankets in deep reds and forest greens and light a candle in a woodsy scent to complete the transformation.
Ditch the Technology
Checking your phone is a no-no in cottage country so if you really want to make your home feel like a cottage getaway, spend a weekend without technology: no TV, no cellphone, no internet! Pull out the board games, cook a meal from scratch and enjoy it by candlelight.
The beauty of life at the cottage is basking in nature, whether it’s a lake, river or forest. So, if your city home is lacking that comfy, cozy cottage feel add some greenery to bring the outdoors in! Pick some wildflowers or trim some cedar branches to fill a vase or invest in some lush potted plants.
Invest in Comfy Furniture
At the lake, our bums pick furniture before our eyes do. Every seat needs to invite us to sink in and enjoy. Choose a sofa you can lounge on, dining chairs that invite you to linger, a pair of Adirondack chairs to enjoy outside – as your furniture requires replacing, make sure you pick something cozy and cushy to really bring the cottage vibe home. Bonus points for picking durable materials and finishes that let you get a little messy and eat a drippy popsicle on the sofa (the Hazel Premier Sofa comes in a great range of fabrics and colours).
When was the last time you could sneak away to the cottage – yours or someone else’s? If you’ve ever rented a cottage, what drew you to it? What memories did you bring home? As you decorate your home, try to recreate those same experiences: the coziness, the joy, the relaxation! Create a home so fabulous that you don’t want a vacation away from it.
Dr. Tanya Watson is the blogger behind Dans le Lakehouse, a colorful do-it-yourself & lifestyle blog about home & life on the shores of Lake Superior.