PEOPLE // Muskoka // Making Work a Pleasure


Mid-Summer 2017 // Muskoka professionals know how to make their home work a pleasure.

Our Homes Muskoka Mid-Summer 2017A version of this article originally appeared in the Mid-Summer 2017 issue of   OUR HOMES Parry Sound Muskoka Huntsville Haliburton, p.76. 

Home experts from the Parry Sound-Muskoka-Huntsville-Haliburton area explain what got them started and what keeps them going

What got you started in this business? After earning masters degrees in both urban planning and industrial relations, Scott was working for a Canadian shipyard in Halifax when his father, home and cottage designer Gary Clark, invited him to join the family building company. “We ended up moving to Muskoka and I’ve been here close to 12 years now,” Scott says. 
What services do you offer? Edenlane offers full house construction and complete renovations. “We design and build cottages,” says Scott. Gary has been designing homes and cottages for more than 40 years. He blends smart use of space and construction cost savings integrated with an old cottage style. Scott provides a full range of construction services.
What’s your favourite part of the work? “I really enjoy working with our subcontractors,” Scott says. “They’re very talented and experts in their specific fields. They understand what I require and what the sub-trades who follow them require as well. I enjoy finishing a complete cottage and seeing it in its entirety. We’re building it from the ground up, right from a conceptual design all the way through. At the end of the day, knowing full well that we’ve created the beginning of a Muskoka legacy for a family is something they can appreciate.”

Tell us about your company: Peter: Our family owned and operated business started out with a passion for soapstone. We have a strong focus on quality and craftsmanship and work exclusively with soapstone, which sets us apart from other stone fabricators. Located in Burlington and opening soon in Port Hope, we custom fabricate and install across all of Ontario and Quebec, and ship across Canada. Greensville Soapstone Company offers the largest inventory and soapstone slab selection.
Why are soapstone counters a great choice for any style of home? Natural and non-porous, soapstone is resistant to stains and bacteria. Its soft, honed finish gives this stone a timeless elegance and beauty unlike any other, with a unique texture that feels like a bar of soap.
Where else can soapstone be used? Soapstone countertops and sinks are an excellent choice for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry. Because soapstone does not react to temperature, it is also an excellent choice for fireplaces and outdoor kitchens.

What design services do you offer? Kris: We design anything from custom homes and cottages to garages, decks and everything else. Most people come in with their own ideas about what they want and they just use me to make things more efficient so things work properly. We can do spatial planning right through to the aesthetics of the exteriors, laying out site plans, the buildings, a lot of structural design.
What are the advantages of using an architectural designer? Kris: Our fees are quite a bit lower than that of an architectural firm. We also allow the homeowners to be a little more involved. At RONA we try to keep everything in house so you don’t have to go to multiple different places. You can show up here, start with your plans and proceed right through finishing your flooring, kitchen, everything.
How does architectural design fit with RONA’s services? Bill: Here in cottage country, building codes have changed and you have to have proper designs to get a building permit. As customers come in, they really need a helping hand just to go through the whole phase of what they have to do in dealing with the townships. Kris can take care of them through that whole process and let them know what the next steps are, just so they can build. We get lots of compliments from people for helping them put their project together. It’s a very daunting task for a lot of people. We’re here to kind of hold their hand through the process. It makes it pleasurable for them and for us as well.

How did you get started in this business? After college, Marc worked in a corporate environment but soon changed paths. “I decided I wanted to work for myself and be in control of my day-to-day activities and career,” he says. Marc began selling real estate in 1988 in Burlington, where he was one of the youngest realtors. His contemporaries were starting families and buying their first homes. “I saw there was a niche to look after a younger generation of home buyers.” He came to Muskoka as a cottager and loved it. “The more time I spent here, the more I thought this would be a great place to live and start a family,” he says. In 1993, he made the move to Muskoka.
Tell us about your business: Forest Hill offers full professional real estate services, primarily waterfront. We also look after commercial and residential. Four local offices serve all of Muskoka, Lake of Bays, Haliburton and the Parry Sound area. Forest Hill is the fastest growing independent realty firm in the country. Eighty per cent of cottage buyers are from the GTA. We have a fantastic referral network and great synergy with the 18 offices in that area.
What’s your favourite part of the work? He recalls selling a cottage to a couple who had just completed the home inspection and were concluding the deal. When Marc moved to shake hands, they said that wasn’t enough because he had just found them the cottage of their dreams. “They both gave me a hug,” he says. “To see the joy on my clients’ faces when they find the perfect place, that’s what it’s all about.”

Coldwell Banker Thompson Real Estate, Brokerage
What got you into this business? Jessica: I really like the versatility of your day, being able to help people and looking at beautiful landscapes, waterfront cottages and homes. Every day you get in your car and you don’t know how it’s going to go. It’s always a little bit different. I was really drawn to that. Victoria: After graduating from university down south, I really felt the need to come back home and find a career that was exciting and challenging, where you can earn a good living.
What do you offer clients? It’s really important to work within your area of knowledge and expertise. That’s what we really try to do. Being experts in this local market, we’re able to help people with the ins and outs of their purchase. We can offer our clients the opportunity to always have one of us making sure that in every step of the process in the real estate transaction – they have someone they can contact.
Your favourite part of this business? The day the clients get the keys is always the most exciting because we’re a part of a new chapter in their life. We always like seeing that. Whether it’s a home or a cottage or someone is relocating, this is a special day for them and we’re so lucky that we get to be a part of it.

Tell us about your businesses: We have two locations in Muskoka: Colour ’n Light Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst Paint & Wallpaper, and have been offering Benjamin Moore paints and Living Lighting products for over a decade. The Bracebridge location recently expanded, becoming a new Benjamin Moore concept store. The expansion has transformed the Bracebridge location into a welcoming space for customers to make design decisions.

What products and services do you offer? Along with Benjamin Moore and Living Lighting, the stores offer Para Paints, Sansin and Sikkens stains. We are fortunate to have a very knowledgeable team, including designers and interior decorators. This allows us to offer professional in-store and in-home colour and lighting consultations.

Your favourite part of the job? Definitely the relationships I have built over the last 10 years with our wonderful customers and contractors. I want their projects to be successful and I take pride in providing them the help and solutions they need.

Rafters of Muskoka, Baysville 
Tell us about your business: We offer a variety of interior design services, including space planning, new building construction plans, kitchen and bathroom design, furniture placement, new furniture, furniture recovery and window treatments – a full range of interior design services. We position ourselves as a one-stop shop. We do bedding as well as upholstery lines, case goods, furniture, lamps, chandeliers, accessories and rugs. Most of our work is custom.
How did you start Rafters? A cottager on Lake of Bays since 1993, I bought an old, former Baysville church and opened a gift shop. The first year we were just overwhelmed with the business, so we enlarged the building and it’s become a growing concern ever since. It’s been a lot of fun.
Your favourite part of the business? The clients are the best part. It’s a very personal business. You get into people’s lives, into their psyche. You have to see how they live and understand what their needs are. It’s very important to develop a good rapport with the client. I call it a collaboration. It’s never really my way or the highway. It’s always customers’ ideas that we bring to fruition. That’s really important to me. We stress the individuality of our clients. I think that’s what’s kept us going.


Coldwell Banker Muskoka, Brokerage

Why did you choose downtown Port Carling for a new office? Coldwell Banker wanted to create a unique real estate experience in Muskoka and chose downtown Port Carling because it is centrally located as The Hub Of The Lakes. Clients have the ability to visit the office by either land or water. Located next to the iconic Port Carling mural and locks, the new office features a welcoming front entrance that opens fully to the sidewalk. It also has a video wall to showcase properties and, of course, Blue Jays and golf games.
How do you help clients? We offer clients an intimate knowledge of real estate in Muskoka, along with the ability to purchase and sell residential, waterfront, luxury and commercial properties. Coldwell Banker stands behind the Ultimate Service Program to deliver real value and assures clients the highest level of customer satisfaction. The company has the power to market properties reaching buyers and sellers locally and globally.
What is the best part of this business? We have the rare opportunity to live, work and play in one of the most beautiful places in the world – Muskoka. In real estate, every day is different as we encounter new people, new properties and new experiences that allow us to build relationships and connect with our community.


Wilson’s The Paint Store, Huntsville 

Tell us about your business: When Doug and Marian Wilson embarked on their business venture in 1976, little did they know that 41 years later, when they had retired, Wilson’s The Paint Store would continue to be a very successful business under the ownership of son Darryl assisted by grandson Chris and long-term employees Brenda, Tara and Samantha. Three-generation businesses are very rare, making this business unique.

What products do you offer? Since starting with Benjamin Moore paint, the business has acquired many specialty items to enhance the selection of coatings. They include Sikkens Wood Finishes, Para Paints, Sansin Finishes, Cabot Stains, All Woods Tung Oil finish, specially formulated for northern decks, and even Boomerang recycled paint for those budget sensitive projects.

Whats new? The folks at Wilson’s continue to look for new finishes particularly suited for the local climate. This allows well-experienced staff to recommend the best products for each application. You can always rely on the people at Wilson’s to recommend the best finish for your project. Wilson’s is a paint store, not a paint department. Quality and experience make the difference.


Window Quilt Muskoka, Huntsville

Meet the new owners: Sisters Ann and Sandra are blending business, sales and design savvy as new owners of Window Quilt Muskoka. Sandra: It was always a dream for the two of us to have a business together and combine our talents, so when this opportunity came up, it was at the right point in our lives.
What do you offer customers? Ann: We do all types of interior blinds and sunscreen shutters. People have beautiful lake views, but they have sun streaming in their windows, fading their furniture and damaging their floors, and they’re saying, ‘We don’t want to lose our view so please help us.’ Window Quilt supplies and installs Phantom Screens as well as exterior applications, up to 24-feet wide, for screening Muskoka rooms. All these products can be motorized and are usually fully retractable so they don’t obscure the view. Sandra: We have a couple of installers that have been with the business for 12-plus years who are incredible installers. We kept the name because Window Quilt Muskoka has such an incredible reputation. We also offer complimentary shop-at-home service.
Your favourite part of the business? Customer contact, says Ann, who has worked at Window Quilt for years. “I really enjoy the people, learning about all their backgrounds, where they come from, what brought them to Muskoka, the family history of their cottage.” Sandra, who had been commuting to Toronto for 30 years, feels like she’s in seventh heaven. “Every time I see a deer I stop and take a picture and email it to friends in Toronto,” she says.

Mattresses of Muskoka, Bracebridge

What got you started in this business? I was a cottager in Huntsville when I decided to invest in a friend’s local furniture business. The friend decided to move on to other things so I came up and took it over and changed it to Mattresses of Muskoka.
What products and services do you offer? High-end mattresses by Marshall and Tempur- Pedic, good value products that don’t have warranty issues. Except for Tempur-Pedic, all of our mattresses are Canadian-made. Pillows, comforters and sheets, headboards and bed frames are also available. Cabinet beds are a popular item and delivered all over Ontario. They’re in a cabinet. You open it up and out comes a queen-size mattress. Unlike a Murphy bed, where you have to attach it to the wall, these are free standing. So, if you want to move it to another room or take it with you when you sell the home, it’s very easy to do.
What’s your favourite part of this business? Quite often I’ll go out on a delivery and I think that’s the best part of it, going into people’s homes and installing their beds and mattresses, talking to them and seeing their beautiful homes. I find that interesting and rewarding.