Live Your Best Cottage Life with These Top 5 Must-haves!

Summer in the Kawarthas is upon us and many are taking in vacation days and weekends on the various waterways and lakes. Some may be doing so in family cottages and others in new builds or all the in-between ways in which cottaging has evolved for many of us.

These top five things will ensure your cottage is a reflection of traditional cottage spirit for both family and guests!

Canadian Flag
canadian flag in gardenThere is a certain patriotic charm that comes with flying the Canadian flag in the true north. There is something about the crisp red-and-white paired with Adirondack chairs, docks, and campfires. Our national anthem has strong ties to cottage country as the most popular version was crafted in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir. Weir was a practicing lawyer who was spending his summer on Lac Memphrémagog in Cedarville, Quebec, when he took to his piano and, inspired by the lakeview, created the English version of “O Canada.” One can almost picture the cottage named “Cedarhurst”, which was a former 17-room hotel, and how the idyllic surrounding vistas would have conjured up the patriotic sentiment that would ultimately result in our country’s anthem today.

BirdhousebirdhouseHow about a wee representation of what cottage life can be for our feathered friends! A birdhouse brings character to any cottage setting. At the same time, birdhouses attract birds to your area at a time when, unfortunately, many regions have experienced habitat loss. There are many styles of birdhouses to choose from and you can often find them for sale at craft shows or handcrafted by local woodworkers roadside. I found over 900 birdhouse ideas on Pinterest that will start the creative process for adding beauty and design to your garden! 

A Map of the Lake
Having a map of the lake will provide context for your guests. These can be framed, laminated or plaque-mounted. Either way, a lake map is a personalized touch for any cottage and can be used as a reference tool and conversation piece. Laser carved maps provide a stylish touch to your cottage décor and can be found in both metal and wood finishes. Vintage maps add even more character and your local cottage association can often help with sourcing and printing copies. 

There is something about that woodsy scent of a campfire which completes the cottage experience. Campfires are also where our best audiences are found for all sorts of story-telling lore. From the big one that got away to comedic accounts of cottage shenanigans across the generations, campfires are where we get sentimental for the past and inspired for the future. Campfires guarantee memorable events and today you can find many portable options on the market, meaning you can pretty much have a campfire anywhere. 

Family Heirlooms
As cottages pass down to family or new ones are built, having a nostalgic connection to the past in your décor is an ideal way to inject character and personality into your cottage space. Often these are items from the original family cottage which have been passed down or are special keepsakes that have been in the family for years. Finding a way to feature these finds in your cottage means it will always feel like a part of your roots. Cottages provide an opportunity for a little more whimsical freedom and offer an eclectic approach to decorating. Heirlooms can also be repurposed and reinvented by painting them or finding an alternative use. An old quilt can be used around the campfire or above a bed as a wall hanging. Old books can be used as doorstops, piled for height on end tables – or consider framing special pages. Keeping cottage memories alive through heirlooms is unique to each cottage and always a joy to experience in someone’s space. 

By Joanne Clark