Muskoka in the Pines: An Elegant Lesson in Form Meets Function
Our client was a couple that had recently bought property in The Muskokas while living in beautiful British Columbia. They had fallen in love with the natural scenery of the Lake of Bays, and Lake Joseph in particular. They acquired a waterfront property where they wanted to build their dream home, nestled on a sunny southwestern-facing point with trees, rocks, and water visible from every side. Designer Peter Groza says, “The vision was to design and build a functional home that fit this family’s lifestyle and love of the surrounding natural beauty. It was clear that the design needed to be a hybrid, use mixed materials, and incorporate contemporary styles without looking too cold or modern set against such a natural backdrop.”
Exterior Materials, Features, and Finishes
The scope of the project was enormous. The new construction would replace a small existing cottage with a completely custom designed 7500-square-foot dream home with 7 bedrooms and 7 baths. The project was also unique because of its exclusive natural location coupled with specific site preconditions: The site development plan featured a completely new build, and the home needed to either be set back in the same way as the older cottage had or with minor variance.
“The concept was to design a high-end home that was both subtle and stunning,” Peter explains. “We decided against building “up” with more than one story, so as not to take away from the natural views, and we chose materials that would bring the outside in from all directions, providing an atmosphere of space, light, and flow.”
Levels were created throughout the design of the single-story structure. Peter incorporated an impressive 83 roofline pitches, featured floor to ceiling glass with floating frames, and even installed the first exterior bifold door in the Muskoka region. The materials chosen were considered a “hybrid”– a combination of timber and regular framing – giving the home a distinct style, all its own.
The breathtaking Muskokan views needed to be a major consideration to the overall design of the home. Peter designed the space to follow the shoreline and the sunlight. “There are views of the lake everywhere. From indoors, there’s the feeling of panoramic as a result of the shape of the floor plan, but from outside, the wraparound exotic wood deck connects nature with the home itself.”
Interior Materials, Features, and Finishes
The interior design featured a truly elegant mix of materials to achieve the contemporary Muskokan style the couple was after. “The style is hard to classify, it’s timeless,” Peter says. To accomplish this unique style of home design, he sourced and integrated recycled (or reclaimed) wood for flooring, railings, and doors throughout the space. “We manufactured trims, stairs, railings and doors out of the same 100-150-year-old recycled elm wood, stained to custom.” Some windows and doors were made out of natural fir, pretreated and toned to blend with the natural surroundings. Wood was paired with stone and glass to give the home warmth, presence, and a subtle modern feel. Peter relished the opportunity to be creative with sourcing unique materials. For example, he used imported blue stone from China for many interior rock finishes and a mix of native and found wood products (including Hawaiian monkey wood used to build the dining room table).
Perhaps one of the most stunning features of the home’s interior is the custom wine showcase, fridge and bar. “We designed and built a completely custom walk-in wine fridge and freezer using stone and glass, with the glass side facing the dining room table”
Other feature rooms include a games room, den and media rooms, and a 30×40’ children’s room. “The couple wanted space to entertain, play, but also a functional design built to suit everyday life.” It was also important for both the client and Peter to incorporate energy efficient elements, such as windows and even wiring practices and materials. “In such a massive space, the energy consumption and resulting footprint can be large. We did our best to be conscious of this in the design, creating a healthy and energy efficient living environment.”
In the end, Peter says not only was the finished project the dream home the couple had envisioned brought to life through the design and construction, but it was also incredibly functional. “Today, every inch of the space is used exactly the way it was designed to function. There is incredible flow for entertaining and living, a connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces, and a design that is classic yet contemporary.”