Shobac Cottages is a farm by the sea built on historic village ruins on Canada’s Nova Scotia south shore, offering four unique cottages, several houses and an octagonal barn.
What is the story behind nortehaus, what was your inspiration to create it?
We both were living fast-paced lives in Toronto working in the tech industry. A few years ago, we began looking for a place to slow down and relax. A place that incorporated our values, which have a lot to do with nature and a slower lifestyle.
Randomly, we were looking on a website and found a plot of empty land in the middle of a forest beside a river. So we drove up to a place called Kawartha Lakes, just south of Algonquin National Park. As soon as we drove into the forest, we were like, this is magical. It was a crystal clear winter day and it had just snowed the day before. We could immediately envision building something that would allow us to take a break and be in touch with nature.
So we started designing a cottage from scratch that is vastly different from what is in the area. We wanted something that we could look at in 20/30 years but still regard as a modern build.
In the future, we want to do some more landscaping around the cottage, although it is a careful balance between leaving nature as it is and creating the space we want. We’re hoping to integrate a sauna into the forest behind the house and build a path down to the river, which flows all year, even when the surroundings are covered in snow.
How would you describe the atmosphere and interior design of nortehaus?
nortehaus’s architecture and design draw inspiration from nature’s perfect balance of sharp lines and curbed flows. Nestled above the ground, surrounded by a river and trees, it was designed as a getaway and grounding space, away, but not too far from the city. Drawing from Nordic and Japanese influences, nortehaus honours simplicity, good company, sustainability, and all things hygge.
I think that nortehaus is a place of comfort but also playful excitement. The interior design is an interesting mix of Japanese and Nordic styles. It combines our love of Asian cultures with that coziness or hygge you want with the long winters here.
My wife is Ecuadorian but has lived in Canada for 12 years and I’m German but have lived in the US, Canada, Ireland, the Philippines and Portugal. So there are a lot of cultural influences that we are trying to balance. From the things we’ve seen and the place we’ve been exposed to - you’ll find those tiny elements in the house.
Depending on the time of year you visit, the atmosphere is vastly different. In winter and spring, you can have the fireplace going and it’s very cozy. Then in the summer, you can sit out on the porch and enjoy the long days while watching the river flow by.
For most people, there is an immediate slowing down in pace as soon as you arrive. You hear the river and the birds in the trees. You can take a breath of air and a moment to chill. I get that feeling every time I’m there.
To you personally, what is so special about nortehaus?
It’s designed for us. The initial concept of Airbnb was to offer your house to someone else. But in recent years, places are being designed as rentals and there is often the potential to cut corners.
We wanted to make nortehaus for us and when Covid hit, we even thought about giving up our house in Toronto and living here. It’s a reflection of us. We wanted to make it exactly the way we wanted it to be and it’s this that makes it special.