Friday, February 21, 2014

The great room in your cottage- designing a cottage

Designing your waterfront cottage: The great room

You’ve bought your piece of paradise in cottage country and now are designing that perfect space to relax and let your troubles drift away. One of the basic things that all cottages need today is a great room. A great room is a meeting place for everyone, a place to gather, to relax and a place to let the days slip into nights.

There are some key ingredients to any great room that you should incorporate into your design plans;

High Ceilings. To achieve high ceilings does not require a cathedral but any ceiling height that is higher than the normal standard ceiling in the rest of the cottage will do. Even a ceiling that is 3 or 4 feet taller will give the room the look of a great room, a grand space where people are drawn to gather.

Ceiling accents. Accents can be as simple as a t&g ceiling or as elaborate as a timber truss framing that gives the room a high grand country look from days of old.

The view. Every great room when designing a cottage has to make the maximum effect to show the view out of as many windows as possible. When you are looking to let light in and allow people to view they outdoors you need windows, the more windows and the bigger the windows the better.  With the great room having higher ceilings it gives you the opportunity to add windows higher up the wall allowing more sunlight into the room. Even on those rainy days a room with a lot of windows will stay lighter and more inviting. Windows are a natural attraction for people to sit and rest and take in the outdoors from indoors.

Fireplace. Every room needs a centre piece that will help bring people together when there is no view. At night, rainy days and in the winter a fireplace is a great gathering point for people. Nothing says cottage more than a fireplace, it gives warmth on a cold night, light during the day and a place to host a party. The fireplace should be sized to the width and the height of the room. A large room with a high ceiling will need a wide fireplace that will run high up the wall.  Large wood or stone mantels help focus the room to the fireplace especially with high ceilings it acts as a break up for the large wall of stone. Wood and stone fit naturally with cottages and a fireplace in a cottage can be gas or wood, the affect will be the same. Fireplaces give a cheap source of heat to warm up the cottage that does not require you to turn the heating system on every night.

Flow. Your great room should flow seamlessly into your kitchen area; if you can make it happen then you should try to make the transition from the great room into the kitchen simple and easy. Cottages are about laughter, joy and eating. Linking the kitchen and the great room allows the free flowing of party goers, family and guests.

Sound insulation. You must make sure that if you have bedrooms that boarder the great room either on the first floor or the second that you make the effort to deaden the sound that will come from that room. You can insulate the room to reduce the noise but you must also use sound dampening material on the wall so that the vibration will not transfer into the sleeping quarters.

Flooring. The flooring should be sized to the width and height of the room. A large room can handle wide planked hardwood floors or large sized slate or tile floors. If you have a smaller room then you should use smaller material, if you make the material too large then the room will feel small. If using hardwoods make sure that you pick flooring that will hide dirt and not show scratches and dents, it’s a cottage you don’t want to worry about what the floor looks like when friends are coming over.

Lighting. When lighting a great room pot lights are usually only good at lighting up the walls because with high ceilings the light washes out before it ever gets to the floor. Table lamps are the best thing to place in a great room when you want to read or write something, this means that you should install floor plugs in key places where your furniture will be placed. A large chandelier in the middle of the room or if the room is very large a couple of chandeliers are the best way to light up the room in a general way. The other way to light the area is to have wall sconces installed around the perimeter of the room which adds accent lighting. If you have timber framing you should install up lighting so that you are able to highlight them to help make them a show piece. If you place the lighting on different switches then you will be able to have many options to set the mood.

Entertainment. It use to be that having a television at the cottage was sacrilege, but that was when cottages where simple and only used in the summer. Today’s cottages are built to be used in all 4 seasons and that means that you are going to be at the cottage more often when the weather isn’t going to allow you to enjoy the outdoors. Since you are coming to the cottage to enjoy yourself then having entertainment that is more than a good book is a must. Wire your great room for television and for sound. The sound wiring is important because it will be used far more then the television. Every party or gathering you have you will want to be able to set the mood with background music. Pre-wiring speakers gives the room a clean look in the room and allows you to move furniture around where ever you want it.

When designing a cottage remember that it isn’t your primary residence so make sure that you treat it that way. You’re not going to be living there every day so you can try something different, something unique. You should also plan and design the area so that it is easily cleaned up and can be left for many days or weeks without someone being there.

Remember that cottages are made for relaxing so design the space accordingly.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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