Sittin’ on the Dock

For about a century, a three-storey boathouse dominated Roche’s Point on the eastern shore of Ontario’s Lake Simcoe and was big enough to house a 60-ft. yacht. Its new owners, less inclined to Gatsby-esque gestures, gave Toronto-based Lynch & Comisso Architects the mandate to downsize the boat slip to fit a 30-ft. vessel and to repurpose the rest of the building for recreation and summer living at the water’s edge.

The renovation includes a bedroom, living room, fully functional kitchen and a fascinating bathroom. From its cove-lit ceiling (emulating the effect of clerestory windows), light splashes down walls covered with tiny black and white tiles arrayed to give a pixelated effect; the short exterior wall is punctuated by small, various-sized rectangular windows laid out seemingly at random to offer glimpses of daylight while ensuring privacy.

But the big wow gesture is upstairs. For the wide-open upper-floor main space, the metaphor of nesting Russian matryoshka dolls applies. The designers played up the industrial, hangar-like look of the tall existing shell with its steel webbing and busy window mullions by inserting a series of contrasting smaller pavilions that denote cozy domestic space. A canted white drywall bulkhead swoops up from atop the swirly wood-grained cabinetry built into the land-side wall, its angle opening above the dining and seating areas to the seascape view outside. Cutouts in the bulkhead for cables that suspend architecturally integrated, efficient LED and fluorescent lighting emphasize the bulkhead’s thickness. Under this ponderous sheltering mass, the prep/cooking area is a freestanding island with its own wraparound wall and ceiling sectors.

The natural materials palette, including ipe, cedar shakes, stainless steel and zinc exterior cladding, was selected for its ability to withstand climatic extremes. This renovated boathouse should glow like a shore beacon for many a summer night.

Photography by Andrew Waller/Steven Comisso