Design Chick  

Life at the cabin

Last weekend, I was invited up to a friend's cabin to spend the day, and it got me reminiscing about the old cottage my family used to own when I was a kid at Dog Tooth Lake, just outside Kenora.

I don't think it matters how big or small, how lakefront or landlocked a family retreat is, the feeling of total relaxation and escape when you're there is the same.

If you're looking for a few ideas to help spruce and freshen up your own relaxing safe haven, here are a few of my favourites.


So simple — changing the cushions on your kitchen chairs, or the toss pillows on a loveseat or outdoor swing is a fast and inexpensive way to update cottage life.


If the blinds hanging on the windows are older than you are, perhaps it's time for a little face lift.

I love woven or bamboo roman shades in spaces that need a little warmth and rustic texture and the cabin is no exception.

Warm and honey-toned finishes add charm and coziness with the pull of a cord. Or opt for white or dark charcoal if you're looking for more of a shabby chic or contemporary touch.


A coat of paint may be all it takes to get older cabinets looking fresh and modern.

A mossy taupe, or silvery-grey paired with light or cream-coloured counter will look quaint and elegant, while those wanting something more dramatic can go darker.

Paint with a deep velvety brown or soft black, then gently sand your edges so the original cabinet finish (which should be lighter than your paint colour) peeks through.

The end result will be hand-distressed millwork.


I've been in vacation homes with both contemporary and traditional/vintage schemes alike, and really, there isn't a right or wrong style when it comes to cottage living.

For those who like the charm of older pieces, but are tired of their current finish, haul them outside for a facelift. Give wooden chairs or tables a light screening with a fine grit sandpaper, then lightly wipe off.

A can of spray paint or roller dipped in white-wash will instantly transform your pieces from drab to fab in minutes.

Scat Mats

Again, another item that can add some cheery or dramatic polish to your spaces. Area rugs and door mats are great pieces to switch out as the years go by.

For those whose tastes lie more to the natural and organic side of design, pick up a sisal or jute rug with a cotton or chenille border in one of your favorite accent colours.

Those needing some pop can find hand knotted or wool mats with various patterns and colour combinations for some extra pick me up on worn hardwood or faded carpeted floors.

Quilts and Throws

On rainy or snowy days there's nothing quite like hunkering down in a comfy chair with a hot drink, good book, and favourite blanket. A multi-textured quilt or coverlet looks soft and inviting folded over the back of a sofa or set on the arm of a side chair.

And in bedrooms or sleeping nooks, the contrast of white linens and pillows with a brightly coloured quilt or blanket is just enough to finish off the space for those that prefer calmer, paler colour schemes at the lake. 

Wall Decor

Think outside the box on this one if you're in the market for new art or wall decor.

I love seeing vintage rowing oars, an old life ring, weathered driftwood, or glass lanterns mounted over doorways, on an open span of wall, or nestled on a shelf somewhere.

A collection of shells grouped together in a series of shadow boxes, or a mix of vintage black and white photographs of cabin days gone by are clever ways to bring the essence of cottage living into your spaces.


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About the Author

Crispin Butterfield is the creative force and mastermind behind Urban Theory; a graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, her engaging personality and design-commerce savvy make her a valued and well-respected professional and mentor within her field.

She’s able to uniquely see the parameters and vision of each project in ways her clients often cannot, and has honed the process and proficiency required to grow incredible long-standing client relationships. 

Crispin embraces a life full of ingenuity and imagination, fueled by raw ambition and a desire to leave her mark on the world. Her impeccable design style, expertise, and a rock-solid business acumen is the foundation which allows Urban Theory Interior Design to provide full scale services with authenticity, innovation, and ample amounts of personality.

Featured in Style At Home Magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and The National Post – www.urbantheoryinteriordesign.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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