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Bunkie design: How to put up your cottage guests in style Add to ...

On her website, the award-winning Toronto-based designer Karen Sealy says that she is “equally at ease in a hardhat or heels,” but she could also add “aboard a sailboat” to that list.

Sailing is “one of my passions,” says the owner of Sealy Design Inc., regular design expert on TV’s Cityline and host of the HGTV series Summer Home. Typically, Sealy indulges that passion at her cottage on the east shore of Ontario’s Lake Simcoe, “which I like to call the windy side and is great for sailing.” Of course, the prospect of a spin on her boat off the bucolic property means that she rarely wants for overnight guests.

In the past, Sealy would house them in a small cabin that had been on the site for years. Such bunkhouses – or bunkies, as they’re informally known – are common fixtures at weekend homes in rural Ontario and elsewhere, so called because they traditionally contain bunk beds to maximize sleeping space. “But when hosting a family reunion presented itself,” Sealy recalls, “I knew I needed way more places to house people.”

So she set out to install not one new bunkie, but two (pictured above). The one on the right, with the red door and red Muskoka chair out front, “used to be an outhouse that years later was converted to a washroom.” That room was torn down to make way for the new structure – only the footprint remains. The bunkie on the left, meanwhile, was entirely new. Since both of the structures, which are about “30 steps from the main cottage,” are less than 100 square feet each, no building permit was required.

And outfitting them couldn’t have been easier or more economical, says Sealy, who gave each a distinct style: One is bright and nautical-looking; the other also conjures a ship, but is darker and richer in tone, evoking below deck on a yacht. Here is how she pulled both off.

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