Kevin Gillis practically grew up on a lake near Eganville, Ont., a village in the upper Ottawa Valley. His parents met on the water more than 70 years ago and have kept a cottage there ever since. Gillis, who was the creative force behind such popular animated kids' TV shows as The Raccoons, decided to build a property of his own in 2007. He hired Ottawa architect Robert Smith and Toronto interior designer Shelley Kirsch to create the 2,200-square-foot back-split bungalow he shares with his musician wife Sally. It took five years to finish the wood-and-poured-concrete structure, a design Gillis describes as New-York-loft-in-the-wilderness. Gillis, who is currently the CEO of Skywriter Media & Entertainment Group in Toronto, eagerly anticipates weekends at the cottage, with its great room made for good times. "It's a room that invites people to come and enjoy," says Gillis. "It's a very magical place."
"I get up every Sunday morning to sit in this chair and read, but I often have to fight for space because my cat loves the chair, too. Don't look closely because you will see little strings hanging from the fabric. Last summer, I had to put two-way tape on the chair. Cats, for some reason, hate two-sided tape."
"I didn't think this orange-salmon carpet would work and neither did my wife. It was Shelley's idea; she simply said, 'You gotta try this.' And against the raw cement, it really does look great. It wears well, too."
The coffee table
"This is from Italinteriors on King Street East in Toronto. Shelley had chosen other tables for us to look at, but I saw this one and loved it right away."
The serving trays
"We found them in a store on Queen Street West in Toronto. They are handwoven by women in Africa. We use them to elevate the serving area of the coffee table and to add a sense of vertical depth to the space."
"This is a fortress in Italy. I bought it in Ottawa 30 years ago, drawn by its sense of stability and permanence. Shelley loved it, had it re-framed and painted the walls around it to draw the painting's colours out."
The steel tresses
"These are practical, serving to hold up two walls with a tremendous amount of force. They were designed by Shelley and manufactured by Clare Scott-Taggart, whose metalwork studio, Rusty Girl, is in Toronto."
The accent wall
"The paint colour is called Louisiana Hot Sauce – it reminds me of chicken wings. What I love about it is that it creates a room that is slightly off-balance. You are never bored in this room because there's always something attracting your attention."
"All the wood came from my boyhood friend Bob Lemke's lumber business in Cormac, Ont. Shelley designed it, determining how the wood should be both treated and bevelled."
"These are walnut with glass drawers and shelves. My wife and I read a lot, and we like to collect books. We love the fact that the unit is free floating. Shelley came up with the design, using a master woodworker in Toronto to execute it."
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