“Cottage Addiction” is a thing … here’s how to prepare for it and embrace it

I think new cottages should come with a warning.

It’s like an itch that starts around noon on Thursday and turns into a full-on nervous tick come Friday.

You’ve gotta get out of these work clothes, out of the city and up to the cottage.

It doesn’t end once you get there. In fact, the addiction is just starting. Those lazy days in the sun, swimming off the back of the boat and having dinner on the deck with your family and some friends as the sun goes down … a couple of measly days at the end of every week just don’t cut it.

Next, you’re figuring out how you might be able to stretch your summer vacation into working from the cottage for a few days (or weeks if you’re lucky).

You don’t want to go back. You dread late Sunday.

And before long, you’re dreaming about never going back.

As in “every day is Saturday”.

And then a new countdown begins. The countdown to making the cottage your home.

We’ve seen this story play out over and over again. And because we’ve also spent decades building gorgeous homes for active retirees choosing to live in cottage country, we know a thing or two about great floor plans for that stage of your life.

So as we sit down to help our clients create their dream cottage, we help them look a little further down the road because done right and with the right floor plan, today’s cottage just might be home when you retire.

5 Ways to build a cottage you could call home one day:

The Cottage Office

Depending on your work and the flexiblity you have, the cottage office might help you transition from working from the cottage to full retirement. And for some, full retirement may never come. So why not have the best of both worlds and plan a room with a view that inspires? You really can have it all.

Embrace Single-Level Living

When it comes to designing a cottage you could retire to, first-floor living a must. Placing all of the essentials – like the master suite and laundry room – on the main floor means you’ll be able to skip the stairs and enjoy a cottage that carries you through your senior years with ease.

Of course, before you choose a floor plan that accommodates single-level living, you’ll want to ensure your property is accessible year round.

If your cottage will be situated at the end of a twisty, barely-there path, you’ll want to address access issues before building a cottage that’s designed for year-round use.

Look to a Loft or a Basement

Having all of your necessities on a single floor doesn’t mean friends and family have to crowd into a single level. If your site allows for it (and we find the best cottage sites along the water often do), a walk-out basement can give you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to adding extra space to your single-level floor pan.

Extra bedrooms for guests, a recreational room and utility and storage spaces are all popular uses for walk-out basements in our cottages.

Another one of our clients’ favorite ways to add extra space to a home designed for single-level living is to add a loft into their vaulted ceiling. A loft space can double as a recreation room, media space or office and provide extra sleeping quarters. Plus, it will allow you and your guests to take advantage of gorgeous lake views.

Opt for an Open Floor Plan

Today’s open floor plans readily lend themselves to retirement living. Closed-off rooms that are difficult to access through narrow hallways and twisty turns have given way to wide-open floor plans that combine main gathering areas into a single, large space.

While modern, open plans have eliminated unnecessary hallways and doorways, if you would like to ensure wheelchair accessibility, we can expand walkways from their traditional 36 inches to 42 to 48 inches and boost doorway clearance to 36 inches.

Create a Custom Kitchen

Ask anyone where the busiest spot in their cottage is, and you’re probably going to hear “kitchen” in response. It’s the heart of the home. And, when a space gets that much use, you want to be doubly sure its designed right for ease of use and safety.

We’ll give you the opportunity to customize your kitchen from the top down. And, as you do, we’ll make suggestions that will help make your kitchen retirement ready.

Possible suggestions include multi-level countertops and custom features like pull-out steps and shelves, which can make a significant difference when you get a little older (and we all do).

Focus on the Details

Even if retirement seems like a long way off, it’s a smart move to go ahead and incorporate small touches that can enhance your cottage’s functionality in the future. We look at things like:

  • Installing adequate and uniform lighting. Having sufficient ambient lights, focused task lights and night lights becomes especially important as you age
  • Swapping out traditional door knobs for lever handles, which offer easier in-and-out access
  • Opting for a walk-in shower, low-rise tub, and taller toilets

The takeaway? Prepare for the addiction.

There’s a good chance today’s cottage will be tomorrow’s dream retirement. With a little foresight, you’ll be enjoying the Sunday sunset as everyone else races back to the city!

Cheers to that!

Freshen Up: Ten tips for renewing your style for the next stage of your life

If you’ve been stuck in a decorating rut for the last decade (or two), here’s some amazing news: Encore will be your opportunity to up your style.

Just as our tastes in fashion and food can change over the years, so can our individual decorating styles. Maybe you once loved more traditional details but now you crave a clean, streamlined approach.

Or, maybe you leaned towards vivid colors and now it’s neutrals all the way. And it isn’t only aesthetic preferences that shift; it’s likely the way you use your spaces have morphed over time, as well. (Three cheers for change!)

Helping people find their new style that works for them, both in form and function, is one of our passions here at Port 32. Over the years our various models homes have inspired fresh design and decor directions for more than a few our homebuyers. So as we eagerly anticipate the launch of Encore, we’re sharing our best tips so that you can start to envision your ideal environment.

Make a plan

Whether you want to totally revamp your style or just freshen things up a bit, it can be hard to get started. The key to success is finding your vision. Think beyond architectural styles and consider instead how you want your home to feel. (Of course, it’s a given your home at Encore will feel light and bright and spacious—the plentiful windows, vaulted ceilings and open floor plan will see to that.)

To pinpoint your vision, ask questions like, “Do I want a space that is cozy and restful or one that exudes energy?” “Will I entertain often or just host an occasional guest?” These types of questions will help you create intentional spaces that function well for the way you live in your new home.

Go easy

The best part of this new stage of life is you can spend less (or zero!) time working and more time enjoying the things you love. And, unless you’re Mr. Clean, scrubbing your interiors probably isn’t one of the things you hope to do with your newfound freedom.

At Encore, all of your finishes can fit you and your lifestyle. Customizing your home with hardworking, easy-to-maintain finishes, such as hardwood floors, granite countertops and low-sheen paints will allow you to spend more time golfing or gardening and less time maintaining your spaces.

Edit, edit, edit

It’s no secret that living in the same place for a number of years you inevitably collect what can be an overwhelming amount of “stuff.” So many of our purchasers used the move to Port 32 the catalyst finally to pare down your belongings. If it is no longer beautiful or useful to you, let it go. Starting with a clean slate will open up room for things you truly love and reflect you in this new chapter.

Keep it neutral

The interiors at Encore are made for today’s casual lifestyle. The open concept design combines the kitchen and dining areas with the living room, allowing you and your guests to flow freely through the spaces. To keep a cohesive flow from room to room, opt for a neutral palette and create visual interest with textures instead.

Get inspired

Let this new chapter bring a fresh perspective. Look to your favorite magazines, websites, or places you visit to find styles that resonate. What stands out to you? What turns you off? Create a folder with clippings from your favorite magazines, or do as we do here at the Port 32 sales centre and fire up a Pinterest board to help guide your design and decoration decisions.

Don’t let it (all) go

Holding onto those furnishings and accessories that speak to you, whether it’s a family heirloom or a piece of art you picked up on a memorable trip, will give your new space an instant sense of meaning and collected-over-time look. (Tip: Your new home at Encore can be customized to accommodate and highlight your special belongings, whether it’s an antique buffet or a collection of baskets.)

Put your interests on display

Personalize your spaces by including elements that speak to your favorite hobbies and activities. If you love to read, create comfortable reading nooks throughout your home and arrange books artfully on shelves and tables. Love to paint? Put your artwork on display. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Incorporate natural elements, such as wood and stone into your finishes and decor.

Accessorize like an expert

Breathe new life into a space instantly with textiles and accessories. Encore’s contemporary spaces are the perfect canvas for creating a relaxed feel. Trade heavy draperies for sheer curtain panels. Choose cotton or sisal area rugs in neutral colors for a casual look. Add a punch of color and texture with throw pillows and blankets. Never underestimate the power of fresh flowers or a new candle to transform a space. It’s always the little things that seem to bring it all together.

Enjoy the journey

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and perfectly decorated interiors won’t be either. Just as you gathered things over time to make your previous house your home, expect the same as you re-enter the decorating process. Allow your home at Encore to evolve over time by gradually collecting pieces that read well with your new style story. Every layer you add is like a new chapter in your style story.

Style your spaces with confidence

Over the years, you’ve had time to learn what you love and what you’re happy to say adios to. And that’s a great thing! You can make design and decor choices with confidence, knowing this isn’t your first rodeo and that every home at Encore is the perfect canvas for creating beautiful, stylish spaces you’ll love for years to come.

407 ETR: Another reason to bet on the Kawarthas

Kawartha Region offers beauty, accessibility and strong investment potential thanks to rising property values.

The prettiest patches of fresh water you’ll ever see. The soothing call of the loon. Nothing but relaxation for miles around. Summer vacations in cottage country are the best. But, actually getting to a lakeside retreat can be a different story.

If you’ve ever hit the road on a Friday afternoon during cottage season, you know the misery that is Highway 400. For years, cottage owners craving the luxury lifestyle and social scene of the Muskokas have paid the price of crawling through a bumper-to-bumper procession for hours on end. (For Americans not familiar with the area, Muskoka is the Canadian equivalent of the Hamptons or Cape Cod.)


For many prospective owners looking to purchase a recreational property outside the GTA, the traffic snarls into the Muskokas have become a deal breaker—and one of the reasons why the Kawarthas are now the lakeside destination of choice whether you’re building your cottage dream house or settling into one of the new, luxury retirement homes in the area.

It’s no secret that the relative ease of heading into the Kawarthas has long made the area a better bet. But, now, an expanded road network is set to make the jaunt from the city to the cottage of your dreams — or the drive into the city from your retirement paradise in the Kawarthas — even better. That’s right, mind-numbing standstills are nearly a thing of the past. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.)

You’ll be going from desk to dock in record time

The Highway 407 project is responsible for the area’s improved accessibility. From downtown Toronto or the west end, soon you’ll be able to hop on the 407 and forget about traffic jams. Even with only the Highway 412 extension linking Highways 401 and 407 currently open, the escape from desk to dock (or back into the city) is already much improved. It’s a painless two-hour jaunt to or from the GTA. The impending connection of Highway 407 to Highway 115/35 (a four-lane highway) that is set to debut in the fall of 2019 will be another boon to the local commute.


(Note: While you can expect tolls on the new network of roads, if you’re located in Pickering and East-of-Toronto, you’ll benefit from lower tolls on the the provincially-owned 412 (and portions of the 407), as compared to the privately-owned 407 Express Toll Route.)

Not surprisingly, there is a clear correlation between the Kawarthas’ improved accessibility and rising property values. During the economic downturn of the last decade, it wasn’t unusual for properties to sit through a season or two. Today, the market is thriving, and the ease of access is just one factor behind the rising interest. Young families and retirees alike are being drawn in from Toronto and surrounding areas by the promise of lower costs of living combined with excellent services and a relaxed lifestyle. Likewise, Americans coming in to take advantage of the strong U.S. dollar and purchase recreational properties are also driving up demand.

And, it’s no wonder why the area is seeing a spike in popularity. Gorgeous scenery, a friendly vibe and an abundance of activities are the ideal trifecta for those searching for a vacation destination or year-round living. While the Kawartha region still maintains the simple feel of small-town life, it has just enough of a big city edge to stay interesting. In growing hotspots like Bobcaygeon, you’ll find shops and restaurants embracing the artisanal movement, along with entertaining options like festivals, fairs and concerts. Of course, opportunity for rural pursuits, like farmers’ markets, boating, fishing and snowmobiling area are always in abundance.


The Kawarthas’ intrinsic allure and improving accessibility make now the time to move—literally and figuratively.

If you’re looking at the Kawarthas as a place to build your next home or cottage, there are two opportunities you should know about:

Encore at Port 32

Thinking about retiring to the Kawarthas? Set on the shores of Pigeon Lake amidst one the Kawartha’s favourite towns — Bobcaygeon, we will be building 33 well appointed and impeccably finished homes in a park-like setting and an established community of happy, welcoming people that make for fast friends. We expect these homes to sell quickly so we advise signing up to get updates.