A Contemporary Family Retreat by Christopher Simmonds

This contemporary family retreat can be found in the Val-des-Monts district of northern Ottawa. It’s been designed by local studio Christoper Simmonds Architect, who had to accommodate the family’s love of outdoor pursuits that include swimming, canoeing and kayaking.


Val Des Monts - Retreat - Christopher Simmonds - Ottawa - Exterior - Humble Homes

The house sits atop a small hill and is clad in a mix of wood and corten steel. Windows have been position so as to take advantage of natural daylighting, and to exhaust excess heat (via the narrow long windows that run along the length of the western face of the building).


Val Des Monts - Retreat - Christopher Simmonds - Ottawa - Kitchen - Humble Homes

The house’s most distinctive features is its cantilevered living area. The extension provides a sheltered outdoor living space below, and sports views that peek through the trees down to a nearby lake. On the inside, the house strikes a nice balance between white and wood.


Val Des Monts - Retreat - Christopher Simmonds - Ottawa - Kitchen 2 - Humble Homes

The white oak walls and floor help to provide a sense of warmth without encroaching on a rustic aesthetic. The retreat’s kitchen is relatively small, but maintains the sleek contemporary look. The kitchen, dining area, and living room occupy half of the upper level, with the rear being taken up by two of the three bedrooms and the main bathroom.

Val Des Monts - Retreat - Christopher Simmonds - Ottawa - Living Room and Bathroom - Humble Homes

Both the east and west ends of the retreat have exterior decks on the upper floor. The lower level contains a bedroom with a small bathroom. Another living area that functions as a den can be found to the front, and a storage/mechanical area to the back.

Val Des Monts - Retreat - Christopher Simmonds - Ottawa - Floor Plan - Humble Homes

From the architect: “The cottage was designed as a passage to the lakeside. As you approach the unassuming blank façade from the driveway, the building resembles a simple shed sitting in the forest. As you move through the cottage it gradually opens up to a full view of the lake from the cantilevered living area.”

For more retreats check out this small remote hunting lodge in Norway that can sleep up to 21 people. Or, this contemplative forest retreat in Poland by Tomek Michalski. See all retreats.

Via Dezeen
Photos: Doublespace Photography

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. I suspect it is hugely expensive. and it is lovely. I can imagine living here in serenity. aqs a personal preference, I do not like open shelving for dish storage due to the inevitable dust on the dishes. I would rather not have to wipe or rinse each dish before I use it. I do commend the cabinet makers who made the kitch cabinets. The design is deceptively simple and very difficult to execute. marvelous work.

  2. I’d disagree, there is far too much white in the house. It could only be worse if the floors were white as well. Every little mark shows up like a dog’s hind leg on white. Why people choose that is beyond my comprehension.

    @ Kristina… Nothing special about the kitchen cabinet design. And, from my experience any dust on dishes is negligible. We don’t have any issues with bowls or plates at our house. I’d even say the dishes that are inside cabinets are more likely to gather dust. YMMV