Images: Robin Stubbert
A tiny log cabin is transformed into the perfect rustic backdrop for festive holiday get-togethers.
It was many years ago, in 1980, that Mara and her late husband, John, got the 20-acre property. “We had no money, so we just started cutting trees and building a simple little cabin from the logs,” she says. The one-room structure became their escape and, eventually (with a few additions), their full-time home. At only 15 by 20 feet with a loft bedroom, it was more than cozy but continued to hold enormous sentimental value even when the time finally came to build bigger.
Two years ago, they decided to expand their living quarters, and integrating the original cabin into the new home was a must. They approached their friend, architectural designer David Spolnik of Sprout Studios, to come up with several ideas for how to build something larger without losing the cabin. His most adventurous plan – to create a bigger home surrounding the cabin – became the winning design.
Cabin in the woods
Not one to shy away from cooking and entertaining outside, even in the coldest months, Mara embraces winter and takes full advantage of the vast forest and frozen lake surrounding her home near Gravenhurst, Ont., for outdoor pursuits. “I prefer minus 30 degrees to 30 degrees,” she says. “I love to snowshoe and cross-country ski right outside my door.”
Natural fir Christmas tree
The scheme especially suits Christmastime, when a natural fir tree gets erected and red decor accents throughout punctuate the armfuls of greenery that Mara collects from her property.
The little cabin in the middle of everything acts as a major conversation piece
when visitors walk in (“They always let out a big gasp!” says Mara) and serves as the living room. A cayenne red sofa, exotic rug and branch furniture add to the cozy vibe, and offer the perfect backdrop for Christmastime.
The huge kitchen island is topped with walnut sourced from Quebec. The surface can be used for chopping directly on and for serving buffet meals. Loads of storage drawers make up for the lack of upper cabinets.
Festive mason jar cider
After a long day of outdoor activities hot apple cider awaits guests. Topped with cinnamon stir sticks, it makes the perfect .
The home’s entrance wall was made with stone from a local quarry. The wall wraps around to form a backdrop for the kitchen’s wood stove. Stacks of firewood stay dry inside with help from a granite flagstone heated floor.
For a bit of fun in the guest room, Mara hung sturdy branches from the ceiling inside the open closet area to act as rods for storing coats and sweaters. An serves as blanket storage.