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DIY DESIGN

At just 28, J.D. Petit built his dream cottage from the ground up, with no DIY he lived to tell the tale. Here’s how he did it

Jean-Daniel Petit stands under a cedar tree, a striped towel draped around his shoulders. His dark locks are dripping with lake water—he’s just had a swim, even though it’s October, and fire-red leaves are falling into the water around us—and he can’t stop smiling. Everything is quiet, and we can smell split wood and damp earth. J.D. takes a deep breath. “It’s always been my dream to have a cottage. I just didn’t think it was going to happen this early in my life,” he says, nodding uphill toward the modern cabin he shares with his girlfriend, Chanelle Riopel. “I thought a cottage was something you bought in your forties, after getting a house in town.”

Yet before he turned 30, J.D. and Chanelle had their own lakefront property on Lac Creux, a small but deep, spring-fed lake brimming with trout, an hour and a half east of Montreal.

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About Cottage Life

You can do it! A Guide to Cottage DIY. How to live with wasps. Easy pulled pork recipes. Why do animals have whiskers? Wood that lasts forever. Workshop secrets from the pros. The new wave of woodstoves.