Muskoka Coastal: A Cottage & Boathouse with Views for Days


This newly built cottage on Lake Muskoka was a blank canvas.


A version of this article originally appeared in the Mid-Summer 2019 issue of OUR HOMES Parry Sound Muskoka Huntsville Haliburton, p. 32. Find local businesses in our Muskoka directory


This newly built cottage on Lake Muskoka was a blank canvas for Kathryn and Michael McKendry. 

They finished and furnished it in a tranquil palette of blues, greys and whites. “We wanted something that would be very comfortable, a place where the whole family could gather and friends could visit,” says Michael. Its natural setting, high among the trees, overlooking tiny islands dotting the lake, sold them on the property. “It was just a beautiful view,” he says.

The couple bought the lake house last fall and promptly began applying their own finishing touches - window treatments, bath fixtures, lighting and furniture for the five bedrooms, five baths and living areas. “It was kind of a daunting task but the goal was to get the place feeling like a home by the summer so we would be able to move up there and have a full season,” says Kathryn. “We want it to be very welcoming, but not fussy. When you walk in, my hope is you feel relaxed, at ease with the space.”

The couple had renovated several homes before, but this was their first cottage, a place they wanted to feel different from their country home in Caledon. They enlisted the professional help of decorator Tary Roossien, owner of Urban Rustic Living. Within days of their first meeting, Tary presented them with a layout and design options that kept their wish list and budget in mind. “It was a collaboration,” says Kathryn. “They used a computer program to understand, before we even purchased the furniture, how it was going to work in the space.”

Working with Tary was easy, says Michael. When they visited her store in Huntsville they instantly connected with Tary and the furnishings in her store. “It just felt like home,” he says. “At one point, it was a simple as saying what you have right here is exactly what we want.”

Michael and Kathryn stayed at the cottage almost every weekend during the winter. They snowshoed on the frozen lake, around nearby islands, sometimes on five-kilometre treks, returning to the warmth of their wood-burning fireplace, installed by The Fire Within

This will be their first summer at the lake house. Youngest daughter Tara has a summer job at Walker’s Point Marina. Kathryn expects Tara will commute to work on one of the family’s Sea-Doos. Daughter Kaylin loves daybreak at the cottage on a pedal boat. “I imagine Kaylin and I will wake up every morning and do that,” says Kathryn. “It’s such a great time in the morning. Usually, it’s still with not a lot of boat traffic.”

A friend dubbed their cottage Caisleán ag loch, Irish for Castle on the Lake. Its foyer opens to an inviting, intimate living room, the lake visible through glass doors and windows. “As soon as we come in the door there’s a peaceful feeling that comes over you,” says Michael. “It’s relaxing.”

Just off the living room, the lake view continues across the kitchen and its island breakfast bar with chrome and grey leather stools. A custom-made dining table, designed to extend for large dinner gatherings, connects the kitchen with the home’s unique Muskoka room. Cutting Brothers Inc. built the cottage, borrowing Cape Cod style elements, with large dormers facing the lake and a towering Muskoka room that ascends more than two storeys. This room, where the couple play board games with their daughters, gather with friends and enjoy drinks, is one of Michael’s favourites. A chrome chandelier, tiered with rings of tiny lights, from The Lighthouse Design Centre, illuminates the tower. Ultra Electrical Solutions installed the light fixtures, carefully selected for every space in the home.

On one end of the main floor, a guest room has its own entrance to the front deck where white Hockley Adirondack chairs, chosen for their comfort and contemporary look, contrast with the custom blue exterior siding. The master bedroom, furnished with a custom-made fabric bed and wooden night stands, blending modern and rustic styles, is on the top floor. It has a private balcony overlooking the lake. Kaylin’s room is fitted with a white-painted vintage Celtic bed, whitewashed dresser and night stand. The ground floor, a teenagers’ haven, has a large living room, propane fireplace and wooden Canadiana furniture that Michael made early in the couple’s marriage. This floor also has two bedrooms, including one with queen-on-queen bunk beds. “It’s fabulous,” says Kathryn. “It’s a great bedroom because it has its own en suite, but it allows us to have flexibility, should we have family come up. One family can stay in that room and it’s quite a comfortable space.” Below the stairs is a gated doggie hotel with comfy beds for their two dogs, chocolate and golden yellow Labrador retrievers. Every bedroom in the house has an en suite bathroom.

Muskoka Window Quilt, directed by owner Ann Vail, installed window treatments throughout the cottage and boathouse. “She’s so professional to work with, I would recommend her highly,” says Kathryn.

Tary describes the home’s style as a contemporary and coastal mix. Each piece of furniture was carefully planned. “We chose every piece to fit the space perfectly,” she says. “They gave us the time and we worked together.” Tary’s team strived to make the furniture multi-functional. “Versatility was the key, being able to adapt to different circumstances and different gatherings,” she explains.

In the two-storey, single-slip boathouse, they used deeper blues to furnish and decorate the upper floor. Pillowy window benches, bathed in natural light, flank one end of the space. At the front of the boathouse, a sectional couch and arm chairs face the walkout to a balcony over the water. Northway Gardeners Ltd. linked the cottage and boathouse with landscaping, cascading stone steps and a patio sculpted of granite from McFadyen’s Stone Quarry.

With Lake Muskoka connecting with Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph, the McKendrys expect to enjoy boating adventures this summer. “We wanted to be on a big lake,” says Kathryn. Michael predicts summer will be his favourite season here. “We’re getting to know the place and getting to know the lake,” he says. “It will be fun exploring and enjoying time, friends and family up here.”