Seaside Cottage Timber Frame

First Place: Residential Design Award for Timber Frame design excellence (1998) - Timber Framers' Guild of North America

Timber Framing - Seaside cottage

Recovered western red cedar is what this oceanside meditation studio on the South Shore of Nova Scotia was built from. The bow-shaped roof was designed to reflect the shape of the waves as well as the huge boulders on the surrounding land.


Timber Framing  - Installing the curved rafters

Timber Frame  - Beautiful curves.

  Sketch of sea side cottage

All three curved rafters are cut out of the same naturally-curved tree. Metal fastenings are stainless steel to resist corrosion from the salt air. We supplied the flooring of elm, a durable hardwood whose colour complements the cedar.


Timber Framing  - Small but spacious

Timber Framing  - Exceptional details
Timber Framing - details

Beautiful wood grain enhanced by the frame design


Timber Framing - Details close up

Timber Framing  - A practical, fun, interesting place to live The Seaside design invites one to experience nature from inside the studio while also providing easy access to venture out.

The Spirit of Wind, Water and Wood

Built of recovered western cedar, this ocean-side cottage on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, was built for the environment and the requirements of the owners. The bow shaped roof was designed to reflect the shape of the waves as well as the huge boulders on the surrounding land. The sitting of the building provides a view of the ocean, but is turned away from the glaring light of a nearby lighthouse.

Creating Balanced Design

The spirit of Feng Shui influenced the sitting, design and choice of materials. The word Feng means wind and Shui means water. "Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art of placement of things ranging from the orientation of buildings to the furnishings of interiors, to influencing the "qi" or cosmic breath of a site." Common sense and good taste applied in combination with Feng Shui created a balanced design.

Blending With Nature

The design process was a collaborative effort with the owners, the architect David Garrett, and TimberhArt Woodworks (formerly known as Unique and Heritage Timber Frame Structures and Acorn Timber Frames). The owners' program called for the structure to be a self-contained studio, made of durable low maintenance materials, near the water, inviting one to experience nature from inside while giving easy access to venture out. It was important that the building's form and color blend into the coastal landscape at the base of their property. The ultimate goal was a place to retreat to and enjoy.

Special Timbers

The form for the studio started out on paper as a pagoda with a steep pitch and flared rafter tails. It evolved into a bow roof with large windows on the waterside. The design continued to evolve in the shop as the raw materials revealed their potentials and Dan described the possibilities to the owners. The wood was sourced to meet and enhance the design, while the design brought out the characteristic of the wood. Dan loves to travel (having traveled in over 34 countries) to alluring locations. After finishing a contract for a timber frame in South Dakota, and skiing with friends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he continued to Vancouver Island to pick up the timbers for this project. Tromping through clear-cut areas with stumpage left behind, he searched out appropriate pieces for timbers and ship knee braces. He also acquired interesting stock for future projects!

Firewood Becomes Timber Frame

The balsam fir post in the loft was found in our' firewood pile. When peeled it was so sticky that Dan threw it into the pond (where the frogs were seen sunbathing on it) for a couple of days. Then it was washed with Murphy's oil soap and given a coat of Danish oil, giving the resulting silky look.

Ongoing Consultation

The three rafters all came out of the same log. As Dan was laying out the cutting lines for the rafters, he could not bring himself to cut down the 24 inch rafter tail to make a 10-inch uniform curved rafter. After consultation with the owner and architect, the log became three long soaring tapered rafters, in a free form curve - like the bow of a wave!

Small in Size Only

The building is small in size but feels expansive because of the soaring roofline and the incorporation of the three exterior decks within the structure. Meandering large tiles lead one to the outside fire pit and to the side deck with bench and wind chimes. The curved deck in front with sundeck chairs was designed so there was no need to have a rail; you can walk right off onto the plush grass. Natural slate with a greenish hue, quarried in Nova Scotia by Scotia Slate Products, enhances the color of the wood. Two pieces of slate were cut for the stovepipe making a wall shield behind the stove. Other pieces were used for the hearth.

Raising and Celebration

The raising took place as the apple blossoms were blooming. A merging of several traditions occurred during the raising. One of the posts was "stepped like a mast": a coin was placed on the platform then the post was lowered into place. Family, friends and timberwrights participated in signing pegs and pounding them in to hold the joinery of the structure together. Upon completion of the raising, a small tree was placed on the ridge of the timber frame structure. This ancient Scandinavian and timber framing tradition pays homage to the trees used in the frame and offers a token of thanks for a safe and successful raising. The day ended with a celebration feast.

Cottage by the Sea (Slideshow)

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TimberhArt Woodworks (formerly Acorn Timber Frames)
L. Daniel and Kimberley Reagan
195 Fuller Rd., Hantsport NS B0P 1P0
Tel: 902 684-9708 || Toll Free: 1-866-395-3838 || Fax: 902 684-9844
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