Rebuilding a family cottage on Big Rideau Lake

Rebuilding a family cottage on Big Rideau Lake

Cottage memories are the best memories — warm summer days, splashing around in the lake, relaxing with family and friends. And so Steve Ardington admits to being just a little nervous when he was given the responsibility of designing a new cottage for clients Mike and Suzie*. The couple confessed they were still very attached to their old cottage on Big Rideau Lake. It was where their two boys had grown up, and the walls were crowded with framed photos of summertime memories. It was up to the founder and principal designer at Ardington + Associates Design to create a new cottage to love; a new beginning.
* first names only at homeowners’ request

Though they loved their old property, Mike and Suzie knew it was time to move on. They were looking to the future — clambering down the rocky slope to the lake might not seem so easy in a few years, and their current cottage would be cramped if their family expanded to include spouses and grandchildren. But they were cheered to find a new cottage site in close proximity to the old, allowing them to maintain longstanding friendships with their summertime neighbours. The new site is wide and relatively flat, the land sloping gently down to a long waterfront.

The new walk to the water is gradual and pretty. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Ardington took full advantage of that lengthy waterfront, situating the key living spaces to face the water. An 80-foot limestone wall appears to rise out of the lawn, supporting the deck that runs the length of the cottage. Because the deck’s underpinnings are hidden from view, the house almost appears to float above the grass. A spacious openconcept bunkie just to one side of the main house is a perfect extra space for weekend guests.

The patio features stone that was dug up during the build. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

In the spring of 2020, the year after the couple first met with Ardington, Jamesview Builders broke ground on the site. Ardington describes his vision as a true Canadian cottage, using simple forms, and natural materials and colour palettes. There’s a twosided wood-burning fireplace, cottage-chic white shiplap on the walls and ceilings of the living and dining rooms, and warm wood floors throughout. And those views! The living and dining rooms, as well as the master bedroom, all feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views across the deck and down the grassy stroll to the lake. On the approach to the waterfront, a lakeside patio framed by a rock garden features stone dug up during the cottage build.

Left: the kitchen includes cabientry by Nathan Kyle for Astro Design. Right: the sunroom has a cedar-clad ceiling and offers amazing views of the lake. Photos by Justin Van Leeuwen
Left: the light-filled dining area opens onto the 80-foot-long deck. Right: white shiplap on the walls and ceilings gives the illusion of even more openness. Photos by Justin Van Leeuwen

Mike and Suzie moved into their new cottage in the summer of 2021. Theirs is a space that is equally suited to socializing or as a retreat. It’s the perfect forever cottage, and the place where new memories are already being made.