Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu. 

Our next feature brings us to southwestern Manitoba, Canada to visit Soumela Krystik at her family cottage. Soumela’s Scandinavian-inspired cottage is nestled in the woods in a small community on Lake Winnipeg. She and her husband have been renovating the space for the last two years and between her keen eye for design and patient approach to details, they have created the most tranquil escape by the lake. We can’t wait for you to step inside!

Please, introduce yourself 🙂 

Hello, my name is Soumela Krystik! My husband Michael and I live just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba with our 5 kids, Braedon 21, Elliot 19, Ephraim 17, Anastacia 15  & Eloise 8, along with our 4 dogs, Gigi, Olive, Cowboy & Ranger.

Whereabouts is your cottage home located? 

Our cottage home is located in a small lake community called Wanasing, close to Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg. It is situated just down the road from the summer camp my husband grew up attending; Faith Bible Camp. Our children likewise spend the majority of their summers volunteering there. 

Can you tell us a bit about how the space came to be? When did you find it? And who dreamt up the project to renovate it? 

Close family friends own the cottage next door with kids the same ages as ours. We have spent many summers visiting with them, and have fond memories of the kids playing on the beach together until the sunset. It didn’t take long before we fell in love with the area, with its beautiful sunrises on the lake, and its proximity to both camp, and our home in the city.  We dreamed of one day owning our own cottage, and would often check listings in the surrounding beach areas. So when the property next door to our friends’ listed in 2020, we didn’t hesitate. The cottage needed a lot of love, which was perfect. Both Michael and I love the challenge of a renovation project. Michael is good with the mechanical and structural changes needed whereas I fancy the challenge of picking finishes, colors and textures that are both beautiful and durable for our family of 7. It is extremely rewarding coming out on the other side of a renovation, when what was envisioned comes to fruition. Our cottage is far from finished and very much a work in progress, but we cherish time spent out there nonetheless.

What was (or is, if it’s upcoming!) the most challenging project within the overall project? 

The living room originally had a very large stone fireplace, which I loved and wanted to salvage. However, it had pulled away from the cottage leaving gaping holes to the exterior and a grand entrance for critters to take up residence. The entire exterior wall needed replacing. (The kids all took turns with the sledge hammer, which was great fun for them!) When the stone wall eventually fell, it was unintentionally inside the cabin instead of the desired outside location, and a rather large section of the floor collapsed. In the end it all turned out great and fun memories were made. We even managed to capture a bit of the stone falling on video.

Which room saw the biggest transformation? 

We didn’t change the structural floor plan at all during the renovation, but I would say the main family space (living room & dine-in kitchen) has seen the biggest transformation. It was previously very dark, cluttered and impractical. Carpet wrapped up the side of the kitchen cabinets and parts of the walls in the main room were clad in a very thick wood shake. We replaced the original stone fireplace with a cozy wood stove. Although the space didn’t increase in size it feels more spacious, bright and inviting. 

Can you tell us a bit about the flooring you’ve used for the space? We understand it was quite a unique process! 

Yes! Traditional pale Scandinavian floors are beautiful, and the process was more simple than we anticipated. The floors were inspired by John & Juli Baker’s floors in their flat above their Mjölk shop. I reached out to Juli and she kindly answered questions I had about the process and durability of the finish, which I greatly appreciated. 

We were able to source Douglas Fir locally which is always nice. We started by bleaching the wood with Woca Wood Lye, and finished with several coats of Woca white wood soap. We have been really happy with how it turned out.

You have such a beautiful selection of furnishings and interiors; how do you go about sourcing and selecting the pieces for your home? Is there a mix of old and new? 

Thank you! There is definitely a mix of old and new, although at this point our cottage has many pieces we have brought over temporarily from our home in the city. I look forward to slowly adding some vintage pieces over time. My favorite antique store to visit is Old House Revival in Winnipeg. The little desk in the girls room was sourced from there along with a wool blanket and some crocks. I am currently on the hunt for art, which I generally like to buy from local artists or find vintage pieces.

How would you describe the overall aesthetic of the cottage? 

I enjoy so many different styles and never know how to label it, but I definitely always gravitate toward natural elements. I love and always incorporate natural wood, stone, linen & wool. I adore the Noguchi Akari light sculpture hanging over the dining table, which is modern Japanese inspired. And the floors are finished in a traditional pale Scandinavian white wash. I guess the overall aesthetic is a blend of all that. 

What sparked your love of interiors and design? 

I’m not sure if there ever was an original spark, I feel like it has always been a part of who I am. I remember as a young girl I always gravitated toward home magazines in waiting rooms, and when I was old enough, my part-time job paycheque went towards my own House & Home subscription. As a young teenager with a very small budget I embarked on my first renovation project in my bedroom. I ripped up the old carpet to expose hardwoods, painted a thrifted dresser and walls all to coordinate with a blue and yellow daisy linen set I purchased for my bed. I cringe when I think of what I liked back then, but I vividly remember how accomplished I felt afterwards, and how much joy I felt every time I stepped into what I created. 

Most unique interior item (big, small, old, new) in the space? 

Oh my goodness, the cuckoo clock! For as long as I can remember Michael has had an appreciation for antique clocks, specifically cuckoo clocks. I have to admit a love I don’t share, so we have never owned one. Years back he met a local, who restores vintage clocks as a hobby. Michael’s face always lit up when he would describe one of the new clocks he saw on one of his visits. Shortly after we began renovating, Michael snuck a little cuckoo clock to our cottage and hung it front and center in the living room. I always tease him about removing it, but honestly it is the cutest little thing. We each find that we stop and watch at the start of each hour when the small door opens, and the little bird comes out with a bird call. There is also a windmill and a little man chopping wood. It’s all very intricate and unique.

Do you have a favourite corner or viewpoint at the cottage? 

My favourite corner in the cottage is actually the sunroom, which is yet to be renovated. It has beautiful views of the lake, and the sound of the waves and rustling of leaves can be heard so clearly it almost feels like I am outside (minus the mosquitos).  It’s the room I start my day in and where I end the day with a lit candle and a cup of tea. It isn’t pretty or finished, but I always feel drawn to that room and instantly feel relaxed. 

Biggest design inspiration? 

Social media has made it effortless to follow and draw inspiration from so many people all over the world. Lately I’ve taken inspiration from ladies like Gillian Stevens, Jenni Kayne, Anika Grimm, John & Juli Baker (Mjölk), Devol and Amber Lewis. There are so many others as well. Additionally, I draw inspiration from places like my friend’s farm, bookstores, antique shops, coffee bars, old buildings etc.

Is your whole family able to spend a lot of time at the cottage together? 

Yes! We are out there every weekend in the summer, not as often in the Autumn when everyone’s schedules become busier. My youngest daughter and I spent a few weeks together at the cottage while the others worked, lots of walks and visits to the local bakery, kayaking and trips to the pier. We are all looking forward to spending a bit of Christmas at the cottage this year as well. Last year the kids skated on the lake and did some ice fishing. We noticed there are several cross country skiing paths and think that would be fun to try as well. 

Favourite things about being at the cottage in autumn? 

I think Autumn is my season! I adore sweaters, wool socks, curling up under blankets, and the glow from lit candles and fires. The energy of summer winds down, the lake becomes serene and the sound of boats and jet skis has stilled until the next summer season. Being at the cottage in Autumn is a nice reprieve and contrast to city life, when busy schedules start up again. We look forward to weekends at the cottage where we enjoy morning fires inside by the woodstove and evening fires outside by the lake. Afternoons spent reading, playing games and taking walks. New to us this season, we will be enjoying evenings in the sauna. It is truly a place we can unwind and allow ourselves to let our minds rest, and be a little lazy. Although Michael will still sneak in a little time to work on the cottage as well 🙂

Shop Soumela’s autumn favourites: