Muskoka Lake House, Muskoka, Ontario

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Toronto

Photography by Joel Esposito

Minimalist and uncluttered to the point of abstraction in form, colour and materials, this residential retreat makes extensive use of custom-designed built-ins and furnishings. As the design brief states, refined details in the house coexist with craggy, jagged surfaces in a nod to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which sets off subdued, austere beauty against rustic patina. Indeed, there is subdued beauty in the unrelenting rectilinearity of whitewashed Douglas fir planks in the ceilings, millwork and wall cladding, the flooring of limed Douglas fir (recognizable by its white-washed, distressed look) and the similar bold grain patterns in the millwork and flooring. Coarse-grained granite makes a bold and even startling contrast. The stone was used for the carved sinks in the bathroom and the rough-hewn kitchen island, where a large, unfinished block erupts like a rocky outcrop from the kitchen floor. The island makes a statement about wild irrepressible Mother Nature impinging on manmade artifice while gesturing to the granite escarpment eight feet from the windows running along the countertop.