A Harboured Haven

When it comes to designing vacation homes, designer Andrea McMullen says it’s all about creating the perfect relaxing ambiance. She told us about a recent project that accomplishes just that.

By Adriana Ermter

Photography by Larry Arnal


Friday Harbour wasn’t designed to be a place. It was designed to be a destination,” says the all-seasons resort’s website in large font on its home page. Located on Lake Simcoe at Big Bay Point, the upscale cottageesque hotspot is as coveted for its straight-out-of-a-magazine aesthetic and lifestyle, as well as its proximity to Toronto, just an hour away. It really is the perfect weekend getaway and an ideal permanent retreat.


Imagined and developed by Earl Rumm, the principal of the Geranium Corporation, more than a dozen years ago, the harbour’s 600 acres now feature idyllic lakefront views, a marina and sailing school, an 18-hole golf course, hiking trails through rich forests and wetlands, and a boardwalk dotted with restaurants, boutiques and Andrea McMullen’s ADM Design & Decor store and showroom. “I’m so grateful to live and work here,” says McMullen, whose store has had a presence on the boardwalk since the beginning. As Friday Harbour’s exclusive design firm, McMullen expresses the destination “is a very special community, like a vacation oasis. I’ve met incredible people through my shop.” Many of these folks have become the designer’s clients, like the Toronto-based couple who recently sought her services for their luxury condominium. “This couple is truly inspiring,” McMullen says warmly. “Our connection began over some of the products in my store and she approached me to design their condo. I felt immensely honoured, especially considering she had previously managed the design of her former home herself. She was highly engaged in the process, having a clear vision of her desires. Yet, she always encouraged and embraced our creative input, allowing us to explore new ideas freely.”


McMullen and her team created an overall sense of style, peace and warmth.


The ADM Design team brilliantly translated the couple’s clear vision into reality while crafting their new-build, two bedroom, two-bathroom condominium on the ground level of the prestigious High Point building at Friday Harbour. “This isn’t a large space like others we tend to see showcased in design magazines, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in the details,” she says. “It’s truly a masterclass in mixing exceptional design elements with well-formulated plans that took this from a small, simple space to a beautiful, well-appointed one that accommodates all the needs and details of a much larger home.” Perched facing the water, the vantage point is serene and picturesque, while the unit’s private interior and shared exterior (complete with well-manicured lawns, flowers and an outdoor pool, all-season hot tub and barbecue area) reflect the perfect space for a weekend escape. “It’s a glorious place to be,” affirms McMullen, who was conscious of making each square foot count. “We kept everything sleek and minimalist, yet cozy and welcoming, the way a vacation home should be.”


Working with her lead designer Chelsea Brilhante — “The white glove service she brought to the space and the owners was absolutely exceptional,” McMullen says — she and her team created an overall sense of style, peace and warmth, thanks to harmonizing a colour palette of neutral creams, taupes and whites with natural woods, bouclé fabrics and accents of black. Beachwood herringbone floors juxtapose against crisp white walls, while a mixture of concrete, wood and glass adds texture and layers. The primary client request was for storage and additional seating to accommodate their family and guests. A significant challenge presented by these condominiums is their limited space. To address this, the solution was ingeniously crafted — a new, generously proportioned island, complete with a drop-down, floating table comfortably seats five. This island boasts a striking charcoal vertical shiplap façade, perfectly complementing the matching shiplap feature walls in the bedrooms. Footsteps away, the suite’s living space offers comfort with ample seating, a pullout couch was added for additional guests and a feature wall in grey with white-veined large-format porcelain slabs was designed. A two-sided fireplace, complete with built-in shelving to display sculptural art, makes an impressive statement, as does the west-facing glass wall with an unobstructed view open with sliding doors that lead to the outdoor patio. Large-scale art showcasing the inner rings of a slab of wood complete the space. “My client worked with us on selecting the artwork,” says McMullen. “It’s a tall tryptic by a Canadian artist that embodies the natural beauty of Friday Harbour’s surrounding woodland and creates a beautiful moment and a feeling.”


This feeling of Zen extends into the primary and guest rooms. Each one is designed with a feature wall of charcoal vertical shiplap that ties in with the living space, luxurious king-sized beds, wooden and rattan bedside tables, concrete side lamps and enormous hanging lights centring the rooms. “Both of the bedrooms have a full wall of glass looking out to the outdoor space,” she says, adding she brought in taupe draperies for softness, sun and privacy. “And the dark and light linens are not just lovely, they’re also soothing and relaxing — just like everything else in the condo.”


The final product is precisely what ADM Design’s clients wanted for their new harbour home. Between the beautiful decor, the incredibly purposeful design decisions and the simply spectacular views of the lake just outside their windows, this couple now reside in a space that matches the style and class of Friday Harbour. If you ask us, it’s as perfectly idyllic as a vacation home should be.