Meet Kat Mersky. Kat’s a burgeoning social media star and web designer who spends part of each year in a quaint Victorian cottage on an island on Lake Rosseau. We first spotted this Muskoka girl on Instagram, where her sunny posts strike a lovely balance between old Muskoka and new. We loved the look so much we reached out and asked Kat a few Qs. Turns out this newly married, well-grounded Muskoka girl leads a life of wanderlust, journeying between Germany, Bahamas, Toronto, and Muskoka, with a few more stops tucked in-between. Here’s Kat’s stylish Muskoka life in a snapshot.
Q & A with Kat Mersky
MuskokaStyle: Hey, Kat. Tell us about your Muskoka life.
Kat: I didn’t grow up with a cottage in Muskoka, but I was lucky to spend my summers at summer camp, which is where I fell in love with the unique beauty of northern Ontario. I spend time now at my husband’s family cottage, one of the first places he brought me. I fell instantly in love with his family’s old Victorian cottage on a little island on Lake Rosseau. Zane proposed to me there. We paddled out to a little islands and he got down on one knee…. so the cottage is not only the pace where we fell in love that first summer, it’s also the place where Zane asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. It holds such a special place in my heart.
MuskokaStyle: Looks like you just got married, congrats!
Kat: Thank you! Our wedding was planned for March, 27th, 2020 in the Bahamas, but about two weeks before the wedding, the world shut down. I’d been wanting to marry Zane since the day I met him, so we decided to go ahead with our marriage as planned and have a civil ceremony. The school at which Zane teaches in Germany was closed, so we moved up here to Muskoka in May and it’s been a breath of fresh air. I am so grateful for this little slice of heaven on earth here that we can call home for the next few months.
MuskokaStyle: Tell us about the place.
Kat: The cottage is an old, yellow Victorian cottage on a little island on Lake Rosseau. It was originally the guest cottage for Senator Sanford’s main cottage, which used to be on the island across but burned down. It’s actually incredible, I’ve never seen any other cottage like it. It’s still very much in its original form, with a few additions added over the years to accommodate our growing family but still keeping with the traditional Victorian feel. One of the best and most unique aspects of this cottage in my opinion is the front porch, which sits atop rocks only about two feet from the water. It’s actually illegal now to build a cottage so close to the water. Sitting out there at any time of day is magical, but mornings and evenings are my favourite – it feels like the cottage is literally floating on the water. Not to mention that we get the most amazing sunset view as it’s west facing. Another thing I love is that all the showers are outdoors, which was a little cold that day here in May when we had snow, but the other 99% of the time it feels like such a luxury to me, to be able to shower outside with the sun shining on my face and trees rustling above me. We also have a little sandy beach area where we sit and eat lunch. Some of my favourite memories have been made around that dining table.
MuskokaStyle: How would you describe your cottage decor?
Kat: While I can’t take any credit for it, I love that this cottage really feels like a “cottage”. Nothing is too modern, and everything fits perfectly into the Victorian aesthetic. My mother-in-law, Theresa Mersky, deserves all of the credit, she has incredible taste. Designer Kate Thornley-Hall is a good friend and has helped decorate some of the rooms here. Her Maple Leaf rug is in the living room, and she also designed the bunkie that Zane and I have claimed as ours this summer. One thing I personally always try to do it keep lots of fresh flowers everywhere, even in our bedroom and bathroom. I find keeping flowers everywhere really helps merge the indoors and outdoors. To me that’s what a cottage should feel like: a space that is a part of the natural surrounding, not separate and closed off from it. That is exactly how this place feels to me.
MuskokaStyle: What does a day in your cottage life look like?
Kat: I have such a routine here now and I love it. I wake up early and have coffee by myself on the porch. I love this quiet time to just sit in the morning stillness and watch the birds. In the morning I work from my computer on the screened porch. Around noon I do a workout on the dock, and then have lunch. Depending on the day, if it’s really nice I’ll sit in the sun and read, go swimming, or we’ll take the boat out. If it’s cooler or raining I’ll go straight back to work or read inside. I often do a few more hours of work and then stop around 5:30. When it’s hot, I’ll go for one last swim. I love jumping off the rocks in front of the cottage and then drying out in the evening sun on the front porch. My husband is an amazing cook so always cooks dinner. He makes all kinds of bread: pizza, foccacia, baguette, bagels, croissants, and so much more. He was actually planning on opening up a little pizza pop-up this summer. We found the space and everything. That plan got derailed this year because of Covid, but keep an eye out for him next summer!
MuskokaStyle: Name a few of your favourite Muskoka stops.
Kat: My absolute favourite spot here is Power Yoga Muskoka. In summers past, we’d attend the 10:30 am class. My mother-in-law and I almost never miss a day. I love getting a spot right at the front where I can see the ducks swim by from my matt. It is so quintessentially ‘Muskoka Summer’ for me, I’m missing it this year. I also really enjoy perusing the nearby pop-up shops before and after class. I have a very distinct cottage wardrobe I’ve accumulated over the years from those shops! Augustina and Frankie’s Surf Club are some other favourites. As far as food goes, I love Silver Stream Farm for ice cream and blueberry donuts, and the scones from Abby’s Bakehouse are always stocked in our kitchen.
MuskokaStyle: Tell us about your blog.
Kat: I started my blog when my husband and I first began dating. We were doing long distance between Toronto and South Korea, and had a lot of trips planned throughout the year to see each other. I wanted a record of all of that travel, so that’s how it first started. I work freelance as a web developer and designer, so it was also a way for me to experiment with that and learn early on when I was just starting out. Now it’s a creative outlet for me. I design and build websites for my clients, and this is my fun space to experiment and create. I love the whole process of coming up with ideas, writing and taking and editing photos. My blog has expanded beyond travel and I share what inspires me and what I find beautiful. We just bought a house in Toronto so the next big thing I am excited to share is our interior design process for that. This summer, expect to see a lot of Muskoka life!
MuskokaStyle: What’s in store for your future?
Kat: I love web work and helping people create stories for their companies and brands through it, so I hope to keep doing more of that. I’d really like to expand and get involved more on the creative side of things, too, beyond website design. I would love to grow my blog and be able to work for other companies and brands that I love through it. I am an eternal learner and I love to be creative, so as long as I can keep doing that I am happy!
Photos courtesy of Kat Mersky.