A Toronto couple wanted a place to quarantine. They found this $950,000 Muskoka cottage

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A Toronto couple wanted a place to quarantine. They found this $950,000 Muskoka cottage

Town: Bracebridge
Agents: Paul and Lea Kane, Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty
Previously sold for: $30,000, in 2015, prior to construction

The property

A modern two-bed, two-bath cottage perched atop a 60-foot cliff overlooking the Muskoka River. Built on a steel frame cemented into bedrock, the 1,000-square-foot getaway is fully winterized, with a swish white interior and a large wrap-around deck. Located just below the cottage, down by the waterfront, there’s a WiFi-enabled guest bunkie, which can double as a workspace. And despite its remote vibe, this place is just a five-minute drive from the town of Bracebridge, where cottagers craving civilization can enjoy a bunch of boutique shops, bakeries and pubs.

The seller

Alejandro Trujillo, 36, a designer and builder

The history

In late 2015, Trujillo started browsing real estate listings in cottage country for a vacant lot to build a cabin. He wanted something near Barrie, where his parents live, for under $100,000. Before long, he discovered a small empty lot with a big cliff smack in the middle, listed for $30,000. The place had been on the market for two years. Trujillo attributed the low asking price—along with the time it spent on MLS—to the peculiarity of the lot, which would make any building project difficult. Township bylaws require cottages to be situated away from the river and the road, meaning any structure would have to be built in the center of the lot atop a cliff. Trujillo, who looks for projects that test his creativity, wanted a bit of a challenge. So he offered $30,000. The seller—likely eager to get rid of the property after it sat on the market for so long—accepted.

Construction started in the spring of 2016. While living in a trailer at the base of the rock face, built a bean-shaped dock (meant to mimic the curves of the Muskoka River) along with steps up the side of the hill. In the summer of 2017, with the help of other contractors, Trujillo drilled a steel frame foundation into the top of the cliff. That fall, he built the 100-square-foot bunkie midway up the hill, then finally completed the frame of the main cottage. Inside, he went for a “modern farmhouse” aesthetic to contrast the darker exterior. Construction finished in the fall of 2019.

In June 2020, after spending the first wave of the pandemic in Mexico, Trujillo returned to Muskoka to quarantine at the cottage. In September 2020, feeling eager for a new project, he decided to slap it on the market and cash out. Following advice from his realtors, on September 17, he listed the cottage for $949,000.

The sale

In 2019, an executive at a large corporation and his wife, who are from Toronto, were looking at online listings for vacation properties in Muskoka and Prince Edward County, having recently enjoyed time in both areas. They started submitting serious offers in the spring of 2020, hoping to find a spot to quarantine during lockdown.

On October 8, they came across Trujillo’s listing, which had already been on the market for a few weeks without receiving any offers. Based on the photos, the couple loved what they saw, particularly the cottage’s mix of unique architecture and modern interiors. So they had their agent rush over for a viewing. Following an extensive debrief over the phone, they decided to place an offer for the full asking price, which Trujillo gladly accepted. The sale closes in mid-November.

The tour

Here’s the driveway. The front of the cottage is shielded by the rock face:

The seller wanted to leave the environment undisturbed, so he built the walkway around the trees, right along the natural line of the rock face:

The front door opens into the kitchen, which has quartz countertops and an entire wall of porcelain subway tile:

There are heated concrete floors and nine-foot pine ceilings on the main floor:

The seller made the coffee table out of an old lumber cart he salvaged from a small-town Ontario hardware store:

Both bedrooms are upstairs. Here’s the 200-square-foot master bedroom. The seller made the headboard out of a century-old door from a local antique shop, and bought the Moroccan side lamps from an import shop in Niagara Falls:

The vaulted ceilings are 13 feet high:

There are granite floors and porcelain tile walls in the master bathroom:

The green floral cement tiles were imported from Mexico, where the seller recently travelled:

Here’s the 150-square-foot second bedroom:

Both bedrooms have small storage lofts:

Outside on the deck, the seller installed a hammock that he bought in Mexico, as a nod to the country’s siesta culture:

Here’s the bunkie, built with vinyl, aluminum and pine—the same materials as the main cottage. The seller also fitted it with electrical, plumbing, gas and internet:

Prior to the sale, the seller used the bunkie as a storage space:

The cottage, as seen from the waterfront:

The seller built a small firepit by the water, using rocks from the cliff:

And the bean-shaped dock, which the seller built in 2016:

By the numbers
  • $949,000
  • 1,015 square feet
  • 22 days on MLS
  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathroom
  • 6 parking spaces