When it came time for Jack Winters to bid farewell to the original structure of his family’s cottage in Eleanor Lake, now falling apart after three-generations of use, and rebuild, Jack knew he wanted to recapture the essence of the cabin first erected by his grandfather back in 1956. Jack had grown up escaping to Eleanor Lake—a small community of cottage-goers surrounding one of the hundreds of lakes found in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park—on weekends. His grandparents had found the plot in 1956, and spent their first weekend there celebrating Victoria Day in 1957. Their growing family quickly necessitated an addition, adding an extra 240 square feet to the structure’s original 800. Through the renovations, marriages, and new babies, the Winters family enjoyed fifty years at the Eleanor Lake cottage, surrounded by deep emerald green forests, refreshing waters, and enough land to inspire all sorts of childhood fun and games. In 2009, the family came to the conclusion that the structure within which they had spent so many weekends basking in the riches of family and love, had come to the end of its life. Water-damaged, un-level, and leaning to one side with the addition separating from the original structure, the Winters had to make the tough decision to embark on a new-build rather than pour money into restoring the well-worn building.
Overwhelmed by the history embedded in the family cabin, which was handed down to Jack and his sister, Rosemary, from their father, Jack and his wife, Diane—and architect by trade—entrusted Bahia Taylor of Envy Paint and Design to design a space that would pay homage to and retain the spirit of the original structure and all the memories they had built within its walls. Bahia had worked with the family before on portions of their home in Winnipeg, a beautiful traditional-style home that bears all the markers of city life, a place they thoroughly enjoy throughout the working week. But for their weekend retreat, the Winters were after a place to escape from that sensibility: something relaxed, cozy, and riddled with the charm and character of the original family cottage.
Bahia went about their requests by restoring as much of the nuts and bolts of their grandparent’s cottage as possible. A dresser previously belonging to Oma Winters was painted over and placed in one of the bedrooms, Opa’s horsehair chair was reupholstered, and the paddles and steering wheel belonging to the family’s first boat work as décor items that call toward their family’s roots here at Eleanor Lake. Bahia made quick use of the original dining table, built by Opa Winters himself, with its classic 1950’s top, utilizing the sea-foam green as a springboard for the palette of the main living space. The coordinating sea-foam banana fiber green rug anchors the scheme, while neutral tones in beige and browns counter perfectly and generate a calming aura about the room. The headboards in the bedroom were doors salvaged from the original structure, painted over in fresh shades that imbues each room with its own unique palette, custom-picked by each bedroom’s main occupant. The discreteness of each bedroom’s designs also work as convenient monikers to make room designations less confusing for cabin guests during their visits: the red room, the plaid room, etc. These re-finished items operate seamlessly alongside the newer selections Bahia made to help update the space and ensure the comfort the family’s wishes mandated: driftwood end tables, the exceptionally comfortable chenille corduroy sofa, the matching bark dresser and mirror, and the dining hutch all work to elevate the cabin’s overall aesthetic, while keeping it grounded in a relaxed and rustic sensibility.
Now fully functional for all four seasons, the Winters fell in love with their new retreat. They carried the love and memories over from their grandparent’s cabin into their new one, paying tribute throughout the cottage’s new designs by incorporating so much of what made the space so special for the Winters in the first place. We’re sure that Grandpa Winters would approve of their new abode, proud of the foundation he built now over sixty years ago, that turned out to be so much more than just a shelter for his family to escape to on weekends. Jack and his family’s getaway had endured over three-generations, and, newly restored, is sure to continue to do so for generations to come.
“I wanted the cottage to unapologetically use what we already had. I love faded, distressed, and worn. How cool is it to curl up in a comfortable chair with a great book, and know your grandfather did the same over fifty years ago?” –Bahia Taylor