John and Juli Baker have been slowly updating their idyllic cottage on the shores of Lake Huron for a while now, and we’ve been living vicariously through them. (We last checked in on the progress in 2011, and peeked inside the airy guest cottage in 2012). So when we spotted on Instagram that the couple (who own Mjölk, one of our favorite design shops in Toronto) had made major updates to their country retreat, including a new kitchen, we had to get the details. Here’s a look inside.
Photography courtesy of Juli Baker.
Above: The quintessential cottage, originally owned by Juli’s parents, is on the shores of Ontario’s serene Georgian Bay—but was “cramped and musty” before John and Juli began stripping it back to its essential elements several years ago.
Above: The couple wanted an open kitchen in the “unused” side of the house, but during the first phase of their renovation they settled for a more temporary space with Ikea cabinets and a plywood wall near the entryway. Then opportunity struck unexpectedly. ”The catalyst was that our under-counter fridge broke and no one would repair it,” Juli says. “We weren’t going to invest in a new one (we had bought that one at a deeply discounted price), so we needed a full-size fridge, and therefore the only way we could fit it would be to move the kitchen.” John sketched the basics of the design, and Toronto architecture firm Studio Junction, who also designed the couple’s city apartment, built it where the dining room once was.
Above: With lofty ceilings and white floors (the couple painted them Benjamin Moore Cloud White), the new kitchen has a Scandinavia meets Canada cottage vibe. A white Smeg refrigerator and stainless steel Vipp trashcan blend in and keep the space looking tidy.
Above: The cabinets and counters were custom-built by Studio Junction; both are Carolina pine with a lye wash and beeswax coating. An electric AGA from the brand’s slimmer City60 line conserves counter space (for more appliance ideas, see Trend Alert: 5 Downsized High-End Appliances).
Above: John and Juli wanted to incorporate brass details throughout the room, and added a brass rod and S hooks from The Metal Peddler to a custom shelf made of Carolina pine. The hooks keep cookware, such as this Studio Tint wok from Mjölk, off of the counters. (The wok is currently sold out.)
Above: One of the more ingenious features of the kitchen is the custom-built soapstone sink with a double drying rack. A slatted teak shelf fits inside the sink for drying small items, while the shelf above (custom-built by Studio Junction) functions both as display and storage for dishes and as a place to dry them. With the unit’s slatted shelves, “We put the dishes up wet and let them drip dry,” John and Juli say. “It is the best.”
Above: The faucet is an unlacquered brass faucet from American Standard. Ingegerd Råman baskets for Ikea fit over plates and bowls to keep bugs away from food—and add a decorative element when hung on the wall.
Above: The space was designed similarly to the couple’s Toronto kitchen, including the freestanding table-like counters. The brass utensil containers are by Oji Masanori (from Mjölk), the iron trivet is by Jens Quistgaard, and the quirky white milk jug painted with a yellow ox is by Kaj Franck for Arabia.
Above: The couple reused the white PH pendant lamps that originally hung in their dining room. Vintage blue Danish chairs by Jorgen Baekmark add an element of color.
Above: Space was another impetus for redoing the kitchen on the other side of the house. “After having two kids, the entryway and small kitchen revealed its true nature quickly,” John says. The couple wanted a more open space with a dining table for “the chaos that is family dining.” Despite the open floor plan, a 446 High Settle Bench by Ilse Crawford for de la Espada (available through Mjölk) acts as a subtle room divider.
Above: The couple outfitted all the cottage walls in tongue and groove pine, painted Benjamin Moore Cloud White in eggshell. The antlers, hanging above the original fireplace, were a flea-market find.
Above: John and Juli swapped out their sconces for a pair of black AJ Wall Sconces by Arne Jacobsen for Louis Poulsen. On either side of the fireplace, birch shelves by Alvar Aalto for Artek (from Mjölk) display favorite objects.
Above: The entry area (it’s where the kitchen once was) is now a place for extra storage. “There were no closets before,” John and Juli say, so they added large wardrobe-like cupboards. Now, they add, “when you step into the cottage, you aren’t immediately stepping into the kitchen.”
Above: The couple nabbed this vintage Swedish lounge chair by Bruno Mathsson on a trip to Stockholm. The original 1950s woven leather is still intact.
Above: The Ilse Crawford 455 Companions bed and Pia Wallen Black Cross blanket in the master bedroom are both available through Mjölk. Curtains by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn provide a touch of color and pattern when the light shines through.
Above: The master bedroom is wrapped with Mjölk’s Shaker peg rails, an efficient way to store clothing and necessities off the ground.
Above: The couple’s daughter’s room incorporates touches of palest pink. A Knopp Pendant Light from Klong hangs above the bed.
Above: A perfect children’s room: A vintage brass mirror by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn sits on a vintage dresser that the couple bought online in a Swedish auction. The Dala horse watercolor is by Toronto-based artist Melinda Josie.
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