Thursday, May 01, 2014

Colin & Justin's Cabin Pressure


Cottage Life Television -- Tuesdays

(Cottage Life Television's national free preview
continues until May 31.)

Northern Exposure

"Colin & Justin's Cabin Pressure" Takes The Scottish Design Duo To New Highs (And Lows) 

By Eric Kohanik 

Eastern Canadians tend to call them cottages; Westerners tend to refer to them as cabins. 
By any name, though, there are common elements. Vacation homes can be fabulous. They can also mean a lot of unexpected work – and expense.
Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan have certainly discovered that in their latest TV adventure. Although May usually heralds the opening of cottage season across Canada, McAllister and Ryan have already been priming viewers steadily since mid-March via Colin & Justin's Cabin Pressure, a sometimes-misadventurous joyride into the world of cottage ownership. 
Canadians have been familiar with the 46-year-old McAllister and the 47-year-old Ryan through various avenues. Longtime fixtures on British TV, the Scottish design duo brought their flair to North America a few years ago, using Canada as the production base for an HGTV series called Colin & Justin's Home Heist. That led to “Colin & Justin Home,” a line of housewares and lifestyle products that have found shelf space in Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls stores across Canada. 
The merry Scotsmen now have their focus back on Canadian TV screens. This time, though, that focus has migrated north. Colin & Justin's Cabin Pressure follows McAllister and Ryan to the shores of Ontario's Lake Muskoka, where they took the considerable plunge of buying (with the help of close friends named Cherri and David) and renovating a log-cabin-style cottage into a dream vacation home.
“It's been a total labour of love,” McAlister says. “Looking back on it, we're just so, so excited. You own a cottage and you just become so invested in it. And I think that's something that Justin and I are very keen to get across on the show.”
Already familiar with the posh Muskoka region from previous vacations, McAllister and Ryan opted to pool their financial resources with their friends in order to buy in. After attending a Cottage Life consumer/trade show in Toronto to learn about cottage ownership, they ended up appearing at a subsequent edition of that show to talk about their plans. That, in turn, led the fledgling Cottage Life television network to approach McAllister and Ryan about chronicling their journey on TV.
“It was one of those things that happened,” says Ryan. “We didn't desperately go out and chase it; it just kind of landed in our lap. And it made a lot of sense.”
Adds McAllister: “If you're looking for sports, you go to a sports channel. We loved Cottage Life magazine. It is so beloved in Canada as one of those great brands. It just felt right.”
Filmed last year, Colin & Justin's Cabin Pressure follows the pair as they uncover one surprise after another. Although their cottage seemed perfect and in no need of repair at first, that soon changed.
“What we found out was that what we thought [was] a 'beauty queen' cottage was absolutely nothing short of being a pig in lipstick,” Ryan concedes. “Everything we thought we were buying was rotted. Everything we wanted to have in the cottage was falling apart."
Although the 13-episode series is about half-way through their reno project, Colin and Justin's Cabin Pressure still has plenty more in store for viewers as the real-life cottage season gets rolling in the weeks ahead. Still, cottage life “is not all fun and games,” says McAllister. “Thankfully, there are more highs than lows. And, at the end of it, there is a pot of gold!”

Colin & Justin's Cabin Pressure – Cottage Life – Tuesdays
(Cottage Life's national free preview continues until May 31.)

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - May 2014)