Tondern Island Cottage

Beaumaris, Ontario, Canada

Timber-framed cottage on Lake Muskoka clad with wood siding

The Tondern Cottage is located in a historic area of Lake Muskoka settled in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s on the islands surrounding the steamship dock at Beaumaris.  The owners, brother and sister-in-law of Altius Principal Graham Smith, recognized and embraced the vernacular style of cottage building in the area and wanted to create a cottage that respected traditional styles while accommodating their contemporary lifestyle.

The resulting cottage sits very quietly on is site, almost invisible from the water, but providing long views across Lake Muskoka.  The exterior picks up on the simple traditions of pitched roofs, wrapping verandahs, exposed rafter tails, wood siding and wood windows. Integrated into this language are the the modern must-haves including a BBQ area, large lakeside deck and screen porch.

Large Douglas Fir and glass sliding pocket door to screen porch, closed
Large Douglas Fir and glass sliding pocket door to screen porch, open
Timber-framed living room in Muskoka cottage with rustic granite fireplace and built-in bookshelves

Whereas the exterior is traditional the interior layout is contemporary. The entry leads straight into the open concept kitchen, living room and casual dining area which doubles as a games and puzzle table on rainy days.  Modest in size the cottage features four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room and a living space built for cottage entertaining.

Rustic granite wood-burning fireplace in a timber-framed Muskoka living room.
Timber-framed kitchen with slate and butcher-block countertops

The screen porch features a teak dining set that seats ten (twelve in a pinch) and is the ideal spot for long outdoor dinners away from the bugs. It was important for the owners that the screen porch feel like an integral part of the cottage.  To achieve this the Altius team devised a massive custom pocket door, affectionately known as the King Kong door. Often left open for days and weeks at a time the opening blurs the transition from inside to out and creates a truly integrated living space that then leads out to the front deck.

Timber-framed wood-clad bedroom with skylight.

In the words of the owner “Family comes first. I wanted the cottage to be big enough to accommodate them but small enough to be cozy.”

Anchoring the centre of the cottage is a large stone fireplace built in the true Muskoka tradition of natural granite, uncut and undressed, cobbled together and supported by a large natural lintel and featuring a broad hearth where cottagers sit to warm their backside.

Exterior of a timber-framed cottage on Lake Muskoka