This weekend I was reading Paradise Lost by Wendy Dennis in House & Home's Notes From Home, one of the few shelter magazines that stills devotes precious pages to essays about the meaning of home. The author laments the advent of the McCottage and the loss of the simple ways previous generations have appreciated the beauty of Ontario's Muskoka region.
In response to her question "Do you like your cottage?" the renter next door replied, "It's fantastic. It has this unbelievably massive media room downstairs." That response captures it all...With all the beauty of the surrounding area, rain or shine, why a media room?

I think in the end it's not the square footage of the summer place but what you do and who you are when you're there that matters.
Architecture and design can, if we let it, help us truly vacation - leave behind the usual and find the extraordinary of summer time.

What architecture can create this way of being? Here are some pics of my version. (Click here to see a gallery of cottage pics from House & Home)

A gathering place for meals and card games or the 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that takes a whole summer to complete.
Everything is simple. (via House Beautiful, photography by Don Freeman)

via Pointclick home, photography by Eric Striffler
via PointClickHome, photography by Mark Lohman

The bedrooms are small and cozy and made even better by oddly angled walls.

above images via House Beautiful, photography by Don Freeman

image via Coastal Living, photography by Jean Allsopp

There a bikes with baskets in the front and a bell on the handlebar.

via Small Place Style

You take the time to wander down paths and up trails.

No matter the view from your cottage window, you spend time just gazing.

You notice little stuff - you open up to less formal ways of doing things.

You choose words like "tinker" instead of "fix." You sense you have time.

Sandals get left at the edge of the beach. People trust they'll be there when they return. (Chatham, Cape Cod)

You sit next to people you care about. You make conversation with people walking by.

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

Wellfleet, Cape Cod

You find that TV is a poor substitute for nights spent watching this and then gazing up at the stars. (Stonington, Deer Isle Maine)

And when your summer stay comes to an end, you are all the better for it.