“Designing a space on an island is no easy feat,” interior designer Ali Budd says. “It is logistically, one of the most challenging projects we’ve had.”

To be specific, the project was on its own island in Muskoka—a coveted getaway a few hours from the Ali Budd Interiors [ABI] offices in Toronto. The clients were a family with four grown children who all convene to spend their summers at the house, so it had to be conducive to the environment. “There were a lot of considerations that had to be made with materials selected as the seasons are extreme and there is a lot of indoor/outdoor living,” Ali explains. “And we wanted to infuse country elements, but not have it look like a typical cottage.”

ABI was involved from the ground up, working alongside the architects at Forshew Design Associates and Shoreline Construction. “Everything in the interior of the home was a part of our scope of work,” the designer shares. “We didn’t really focus on one particular style; we wanted to bring a wide range of pieces and have each space feel special. It’s timeless and elegant with a bit of an edge. Ultimately, one of the most important things, as always, is for our clients to feel comfortable and cozy.”

The “Muskoka room” is paneled entirely in wood and features an eye-catching 20-foot blue stone fireplace and matching bar—made complete with a custom suspended daybed. “It’s very common to have a ‘Muskoka room’ in a Canadian cottage,” she explains. “Its main purpose is to feel like you’re outside and connected to nature when you’re inside. We wanted to put an ABI twist on this space. We curated furniture pieces that don’t necessarily feel like they belong in a Muskoka room, but it all works.” The rest of the home follows suit with a perfect juxtaposition of ‘rustic glam’ furnishings.

The project took two years from start to finish and wasn’t without a few hiccups. “The fact that we couldn’t go for site checks throughout the winter until the ice was thick enough to travel on…driving across was definitely an invigorating way to start the day,” Ali recalls. “We had to create processes that involved double and triple checking/inspecting deliveries prior to sending them over because returning pieces by boat was and much more logistically challenging than our typical projects. Our carpentry team, Anchored Interiors, took one for the team by sleeping in a tent on the property for three weeks just to get the Muskoka room done. They decided, going back and forth from the island daily was not a feasible option so they made themselves comfortable and got the job done! Finding ways to ensure the final pieces made it up essentially a mud slide to be placed in the house was honestly, a hilarious experience. Let’s just say we all well surpassed our step goal that week.”

Now, summer awaits—and the family is thrilled that what once was a bare piece of land is their ultimate dream home.