Our Favourite Modern Cottage Designs in Ontario

Our Favourite Modern Cottage Designs in Ontario

Interior of a modern cottage design featuring a large farm table. Carling Residence in Muskoka

Imagine immersing yourself in the wilderness and stepping away from the bustling city — into a space that shelters you from the elements while seamlessly becoming part of the environment. This is an intention ingrained within Canadian history and adapts to modern dwellings being built now. Here, we will explore some successful local retreats, found in our own city’s backyard. Our favourite modern cottage designs in Ontario.

Modern cabin designed by Ian Macdonald Architects
Cabin in Go Home Bay by Ian Macdonald Architects
Hallway featuring floor to ceiling windows of a modern cabin in Go Home Bay
Cabin in Go Home Bay by Ian Macdonald Architects  

Materiality in Architecture

The dwelling is subdued in its appearance and creates powerful moments with the intention of disappearing into the backdrop that existed years before the home’s conception. The building is hidden from passersby, going as far as being constructed on an island in Georgian Bay, not as easily accessible as the typical cottage home.

To contrast, the hidden nature and attempts at joining its landscape, the interiors of the home do not attempt to hide the built process. Ceilings and details are stripped down in order to showcase the bones of the building with sensitive attention to the highly-detailed craftsmanship. The finishes are meant to celebrate the materials and detailing of a building that creates simple surfaces and lines. The structure itself is cantilevered off concrete piers to tread lightly on the granite surface beneath, with minimal disruption to the existing landscape. As you leave the building, it tentatively retreats back into the surrounding forest.


Modern cabin in Muskoka designed by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple. For our favourite modern cottage designs in Ontario, read our post!
Bigwin Island Cabins in Muskoka by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple
Beautiful bigwin island cabins in Muskoka designed by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple
Bigwin Island Cabins in Muskoka by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple


These series of cabin retreats bring attention to the success of understanding site conditions and adapting to how a built structure can fit into a new environment.

The statement hip roof clad in cedar shingles is a nod to the historic small homes that have been constructed in the area. Although appearing heavy from the exterior, the space opens up into an expansive room that demonstrates a modern approach with sensitive roots. Beyond this, the natural clearing formed from deer grazing relieves thick forests in order to have a space free for a high-end escape into nature.

Beautiful modern cottage designed by Atelier Pierre Thibault
Le Grand Plateau on Lake Huron by Atelier Pierre Thibault
Beautiful dining interior of a modern cottage on Lake Huron. For more modern cottage designs, read our post!
Le Grand Plateau on Lake Huron by Atelier Pierre Thibault

Expansive Views

The house residing on the edge of a cliff is exactly as its name suggests. The expansive views and open landscapes pull the inhabitant outside of their built dwelling, as it establishes a clear interior to exterior relationship. It attempts to blur the lines of the building walls as it includes a wrapped porch walkway that completely encloses the interior living spaces. Sitting above the rest of the home, you have access to a rooftop deck that reveals the surroundings in an untouched manner; allowing the viewer to hover among the trees at their midway height. This home is focused on providing a holistic view through its open design and accessible circulatory paths.

Beautifully designed floating modern cottage on Lake Huron
Sample House No. 2 (Floating House) on Lake Huron by Mos – Meredith

Adaptive Approach

The “Floating House” approaches a guest house addition by completely separating the physical mass into its own extension, reflecting back to the primary home.

As architecture takes an adaptive approach to the changing water levels, the home is a subtle, vernacular moment. The house is completely engaged with the water, encouraging constant access to the deck as it pushes the concept of a waterfront home to its fullest extent. Inhabitants can lounge on their deck and truly experience an uninhibited home while enjoying the greatest value of a secluded space that rests directly on the water.


Interior of a modern cottage design featuring a large farm table. Carling Residence in Muskoka
Carling Residence in Muskoka by TACT Architecture


In a true escapist move, this home was built in order to create a sense of relief from the loud and hustling lifestyle of city living. The calm and quiet nature is clearly evident in the interiors of the spaces that make up this alternate vision of a home compared to its city predecessor. The material palette of simple and clean stone/concrete textures are married to the warm-toned wood millwork found throughout the home. The building itself is unassuming and serves its purpose of offering a modern enclosure that is nestled among an array of trees. The details are simple and crisp, offering a spacious layout that serves its fundamental purpose of a quiet shelter in the woods.

Modern cottage designs have the flexibility to take on their own distinct shape depending on site conditions, client needs, and accessibility to natural resources that fit well within its organic setting. There is room to create a home that is your own.

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