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Enjoying a morning coffee while taking in the beauty of Lake Huron is one of the many things that the Harts love about their Bayfield home.


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Jeff Hart and Billie Duncan-Hart love spending time with their daughters and extended family in their renovated cottage.

Cottaging on Lake Huron is as natural to Jeff Hart as breathing. The 56-year-old Woodstock native can’t remember a time before his family had a small place a few miles north of Bayfield purchased in 1958, six years before he was born.

It was a hard decision to sell it, but at 550 square feet it was just too small for their current family of three generations who want to enjoy life on the lake.

He and wife Billie Duncan-Hart (50) want their two daughters and their families to have a place to visit, so the 2,200-square-foot home they purchased in 2016, and have now renovated, is perfect. With three bedrooms (plus a workout room) and two bathrooms, ample outdoor living space and openconcept common rooms, it’s large enough for the whole gang but fits the couple perfectly when they are there alone.

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Lake Huron sunsets are just one of the attractions of this home. The one-acre wooded lot it sits on affords total privacy to enjoy the views away from the busy buzz that is Bayfield on summer weekends.

The Harts split their time between Dayton, Ohio – Billie’s hometown – and Bayfield, visiting the lakefront property every two or three weeks yearround. Both work in Ohio. Jeff oversees operations for a large fleet management company and Billie is a realtor.

After 20 years of searching for a property that met their stringent criteria – it had to be lakefront, in Bayfield and secluded – they found one on Tuyll Street. Sitting at the end of the street on a one-acre wooded lot, they had been driving by it on ice cream runs to the village for years without knowing it was there.

Built in the 1950s, with a tower room addition in 1993, the house’s rooms were cramped and dark. Since the couple has renovated and flipped 15 properties previously, their design-and-implementation approach is solid, and they were confident that they could make this into their dream home. “I do the visualization and architectural design, and Billie’s got great taste in the finishings and furnishings,” says Jeff. They worked with general contractor Jeff Postma, of Postma Construction in Clinton, to execute their vision.

The home is essentially a ranch that has an inverted floor plan. Visitors enter the ground level where the “owner’s suite” resides. It was previously a small second kitchen and living area. To make the area more usable, Jeff had some of the walls moved and the space reconfigured. It contains a sitting room with beverage bar, master bedroom and bath and a private deck. Billie describes the latter as “a wonderful place to have our morning coffee.”

Downstairs, the main level features the great room (living/dining rooms and kitchen) and two more bedrooms, workout room and the other bathroom. It has a large lakefront deck area and access stairs down to the beach. On this floor, “the roof was ripped off and we added a vaulted ceiling to make it more open,” explains Jeff.

The circular stairs accessing the tower were painstakingly replaced, by Roes Stair Company in London, with a beautiful, user-friendly staircase. The tower is now a lovely space to relax and “enjoy a glass of wine and the sunset,” says Billie.

Since the focus of this home is lakefront living and nearly all the rooms offer views of the glistening waters, the finishes were all done with an eye to being low-maintenance and beach-friendly. For instance, the porcelain flooring has the warm look of wood but is easy to care for.

Wall finishes and furnishings were chosen in neutral colours so that Billie’s choices of original artwork – done by area artists and purchased at Bayfield’s Main Street Gallery – could be focal points in each room. Paying homage to her Ohio roots, Billie chose a print of a story about the Wright Brothers feats that she purchased at Warehouse 74. “Our place in Dayton is 25 minutes from the Wright Brothers Estate,” she explains.

Loving life on the lake, this cottage offers a secluded retreat for the Harts to enjoy as a respite from their busy two-country existence.

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This V-shaped window is one of the few remaining features of the original home. The great room resides on the main level, one floor down from where guests enter the cottage, as it has an inverted floorplan.

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The entry way to the home is graced with a print that celebrates the Wright Brother’s feats. “We stumbled on it at Warehouse 74 in Exeter,” Duncan-Hart explains the happy accident that brought this homage to her home town to be part of the cottage’s décor.

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A second kitchen was converted to the owner’s suite. The beverage centre and sitting room lead out to a private balcony.

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A popular place for friends and family members to gather to cook and chat, the large chef’s kitchen is equipped with Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances.

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The lookout – part of an addition made to the cottage in 1993 – now serves as a relaxing space to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sunset year-round.

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Two of the three bedrooms enjoy lake views, while the third one looks out onto the serene woods that surround the property.

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Duncan-Hart chose subtle shades from Benjamin Moore Paints to allow their passion for original art by area artists to shine. Steve Cook, of Lakeridge Décor, did all the painting in the home.

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Stairs lead to the private beach that is part of the property, a feature enjoyed by the Harts, their guests and, especially, their grandchildren.

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Roes Stairs installed a user-friendly staircase to the tower that replaces the original circular stairs. Porcelain tiles that mimic the look of wood ensure that the Harts enjoy the low-maintenance beach lifestyle they were after. All the tiling in the home was installed by Johnny DeVuono of J.D.’s Tile and Marble