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Redesigned cottage finds a compromise between flair and practicality

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Lake House by architect Cindy Rendely. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Simcoe, until recently the long thin lot was presided over by a 60 year-old cottage. With their ancestral cottage now in a “very tired” state, the current head of the family, and the architect’s childhood friend, turned to Ms. Rendely to design them a new but affordable house that would accommodate three generations.

Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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Architect Cindy Rendely said that because of cost concerns the project’s success depended on the use of geometry and form. ‘It was one of the smallest budgets that I have ever worked with, but I believe the house is one of the strongest architectural pieces that I have ever designed.’

Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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The new cottage is arranged as three distinct volumes. From the road, the garage comes first, its rectangular form and steep pitched roof with minimal overhang a precursor of what is to come. Set back, separated by a small section of lawn, is a long thin single-storey building located on the same east west axis as the garage. Replicating the garage in form, this volume contains four bedrooms, a communal bathroom and the kitchen portion of the main living space. Adjacent to the bedroom block, at its west, lakeside end is the third building, a two-storey element that houses the main living space.

Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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Where the old cottage turned its back to the lake, Ms. Rendely’s design presents an almost transparent main living space, with views out to the lake in the west and the garden to the east.

Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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‘The family wanted the cottage to have a pitched roof; they liked the traditional. I wanted it to have a flat roof because I’m a modernist architect. We went back and forth, arguing for and against each solution and I came to realize that my preconceived ideas were perhaps not all correct. I came to see that the local vernacular and family ideals were important.’

Photos by Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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Materials, features and fixtures all were considered and critiqued by Ms. Rendely and her client friend in order to minimize costs. This rigorous process worked well with the architect’s admitted preoccupation for perfection and helped create a beautifully harmonious interior that utilizes a minimal palette of warm maple plus grey-porcelain tile and matching laminate.

Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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The constraints put upon the architect – cost limitations, vernacular considerations and strong personal ties – have combined to produce not a watered-down project but a distillation of design, a wonderfully mature solution to a complex set of challenges.

Tom Arban/Tom Arban Photography

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