It’s Time to Design YOUR Dream Custom Cottage—Considerations for achieving your vision Part 4

This week we’re wrapping up our discussion of custom cottage design with outdoor fireside areas, bathrooms and “nature’s air conditioner”, but it doesn’t have to end here! Jim Bell has many more tips to share and would love to have the opportunity to understand your vision for a custom cottage of your dreams.

Fireside Stories

Many a great story has been told as family and friends gather around the fire for evening social time. Whether on a beach or riverbank, outdoor summer bonfires are memorable events for all.

Try to find a space where the fire pit can be lower than the off-shore grade so that when you are seated the cooler night air flowing out onto the body of water will pass above you––a much more comfortable location on cooler nights.

Safety is top-of-mind when a fire is involved. A sunken fire pit encircled by large flat stones will ensure coals stay safely in place even if the winds picks up. Create a good-sized flat area surrounding the fire pit for chairs or benches to sit securely and allow for flexibility when you have more visitors. Of course, it goes without saying (but we’re saying it anyway) that the surface around the pit should be non-combustible material like compacted stone dust, patio stones, sand or gravel… it’s not the place for wood chips!


custom cottageEspecially when hosting a large group, well-designed bathrooms are critical to everyone’s comfort. Jack and Jill baths work well. With direct access from two bedrooms to a shared bathroom, this layout is convenient for guests and they can more easily maintain their privacy.

Physically separating the toilet and/or shower/tub from the vanity and sink area allows two custom cottagefamily members to use the bathroom for different purposes at the same time. Consider a closet with sufficient space for towels and bath essentials or space in a vanity cabinet to keep those items within easy reach for your family and friends.

Nature’s Air Conditioner

On hot summer days––and everyday––ventilation is key. You’ll want windows that open on all sides of the cottage, carefully choosing the operating direction based on the prevailing winds to optimize natural ventilation and cooling on those hot summer evenings. A healthy cross breeze off the naturally cooler lake is the goal––nature’s air conditioning! Breezes during the day can help keep the cottage cooler on moderate days. Good blinds and awnings will help to shade the interior to keep the heat out on those muggy, hot, sunny days. During the night when the breezes often reverse, cooler air is drawn from the forest towards the body of water and you want to capture those gentle winds as the air cools overnight. Ventilation is just one example of the myriad of details to consider when designing a custom cottage––you will want an architectural designer who has the expertise and experience to get those details right!

Jim Bell has designed many gorgeous custom cottage and vacation homes for clients with very diverse needs. As a highly-experienced architectural designer, he seeks to understand your vision and has the expertise to design a vacation home that is sure to “wow” you. With offices in both Ottawa and Pembroke, Jim welcomes the opportunity to meet with you for a complimentary site visit or consultation to see if the fit is right for you.

< It’s Time to Design YOUR Dream Custom Cottage—Considerations for achieving your vision Part 3