Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When Decorating Consider the Approach I Used: "I Like That!"

Before I get started let me just put in a disclaimer....this isn't Country Living.  I didn't iron the pillow cases before taking the picture or adjust the curtains.  Please excuse the dog's dish, etc.  I just started looking around our lake house one day and realized that I finally had gotten to a point where it reflected how we felt about this house.... a respit....a destination.  A place to get away and have fun.  Not just for my husband and I but our family and their families.  But maybe the best place to start is at the beginning.....

We first started thinking of looking for a place on a fishing lake several years ago.  Something like ten years.  We looked for several years on our own.  More like day dreaming.  As the years flew by though the  realization that if we wanted to really make this happen we would have to be more direct....like save lots of $$$$ and actually narrow down the area.  And, oh yea,  maybe get hold of someone that knew the area which would probably be a real estate dealer.  We did those things and actually found a real estate dealer that was local.  A really sweet lady that not only knew the area but her husband was a fishing guide!!!  Wow my husband knew instantly we were on the right track!!!!

And track we did.  We must have looked at every house that was for sale.   We gave Peg a few guide lines like price, access to the lake,  and the fact that we weren't contractors or builders so a total remake might not be in the picture.  I thought we had found the perfect house twice but....one was on a cliff.  They called it "overlooking" the lake or "breathtaking view".  The breathtaking part was looking down all those steps!!  My goodness wonder if the grandkids tripped.  They would roll down the grass and over the embankment and then..!! No way!!  Besides I hate stairs.  I'm not sure if it is my hips, my knees, my ankle or just my age but I hate stairs!!  Once I got down all those steps I would have to at least have a refrigerator at the bottom to drink some sort of celebratory-hopefully more adult like beverage(s)!!

Finally Peg took us to a small house off the main lake on a small bay.  It needed work and the basement was very discouraging.  It was more like an over sized crawl so basically useless for anything but storage.  And the prices!!!!!  We were pretty discouraged.  Actually close to considering looking in a totally different area.  We were driving away when my husband noticed another house for sale just up the same block.  Peg didn't think we would like it since it would need so much work.

In fact I had driven by this house before and thought, "There is no way I am going to pay that much money for that house!!!"  Actually "that much money" was really low for this area as we had found out.  So Peg called and got permission for us to go in.  Wow...the porch was a mess, the roof sagged and the outside deck was frightening!!Did I mention it was PINK!!!
 



After going in, the house needed work but was not as bad inside as I had expected.  The basement was full size and finished.  It looked out to the backyard and the lake.  The basement door opened with only three steps to the outside.  Great entrance for the kids and we could still watch them if we were downstairs.  After much discussion, we made an offer.  It had been on the market for two years without even a bid.  Well except for today.  After submitting our bid, we found out that they had actually gotten a higher bid that morning!!What!!!  We countered and it was accepted.

It sounded just a little "funny" to me but later (about a year or so) we actually found out that a friend of one of the neighbors had indeed put in a bid.  These folks did find a house about 4 houses down but they remind us now and then that we are living in "their" house. 

The day of the closing we got the keys and went back to the house.  Naturally my husband was really anxious....not about spending the money but getting a fishing line in that lake!!!  We thought we would get a room at the small motel but what the heck we owned a house now right!!  No furniture, hmmmmm.  Well how about we pull our Tahoe in the garage and sleep in the back.  When the seats are down there is plenty of room!!  Yea!!  Neighbors won't think we're crazy, we'll be in the garage!!  Good plan except for one thing.  The garage was too small for the Tahoe!!!!

This picture does way too much for it.  Although I did make sure we saved those doors.  They were old and fabulous!!!

We found a local contractor.  That was scary....Mike Holmes list of what you should look for in a contractor was not that reassuring especially after I had watched many of his frightening episodes on HGTV.  One of the discussions we had was that we would like to be able to use the house while it was being remodeled.  I wasn't sure how they would feel about that but summer was coming and we couldn't wait.  We eventually brought our camper up and used it until the house was done.  It was a real adventure.

We didn't really change the main part of the house.  The bedrooms were small as was the kitchen and living room but we could live with that.  We chose to remove a couple walls, replace windows and doors, new furnace and installed central air.  Then we added another bedroom and a larger garage.  We removed the door leading out to the scary deck and replaced it with a large sliding glass door that gives us a beautiful view to the lake.  We replaced the deck with a much larger one that basically runs the length of the house.  The stairwell from the basement needed work and we also added a storage unit at the top so that it blended better with the roof.  That gave us storage that we could access directly from the deck.


The basement was paneled.  I didn't like this bird(?)pattern so I painted it a primitive shade of red.  Turned out great.

We could look out the basement windows to the backyard.

When they removed these windows they actually had the original ropes and lead weights!!!I didn't have my camera with me then so I missed that picture. 


Looking out the back to the lake.  This door, window, dark closet to right and especially the deck were really scary and in need of getting rid of!!!

We had the inside repainted of course but chose not to go down to the studs as I mentioned before.  We were so excited and the kids loved the lake.  We spent the money instead on toys.....first a dock.  More a necessity than a luxury.  Then of course a wave runner.  The lady at the bank simply said,  "From what I understand once you have one, you need two."  I laughed.  Of course we bought a second.  Then came winter and WOW the snowmobile trails are GREAT!!!  Two of those.  We really lucked out though with finding good used equipment.

That winter I started looking around and decided that the contractor primer paint just wasn't doing it anymore.  Especially with 8 grandkids and 3 dogs on and off.  But how do you get started and decide on which way to go.  Hence (FINALLY) why I am writing this blog which seems to be turning into a book.  So for anyone that is still with me....here it goes....My journey to the transformation of our lake house to a cozy mostly primitive home.

I talked to our son-in-law who is a construction engineer and in his childhood worked side by side with his dad building homes in southern Indiana.  I knew he knew what he was going and I had already forgiven him (?) for taking our only daughter and our only granddaughters off to Colorado :( .  I wanted him to show me how to repair cracks and make ugly walls look better.  He just smiled.....hmmmmm.  But he showed me and really it isn't difficult but what a mess.  The time and patience.  The dust!!! It took me two weeks just fiddling with that.   So glad its done and so glad I took the time to do it.   Next off to Home Depot (or Lowe's whatever you have closest)to look at paint.  I had checked several magazines discussing primitive colors and decorating ideas.  That helped to some degree but they can border overwhelming at times.  So I did what I usually do....winged it.   Basically if it felt right and I liked it I tried it. 

I did take several of those cardboard sample sheets and then narrowed them down.  After that I bought some of the sample small cans of paint.  This really helped so that I could decide if I liked the color on the walls with the sun light exposure in each.  It also helped to paint them side by side to see if the color scheme complimented each other and would flow thru the rooms.  I'm already an earthy color person and like the tranquil colors but I also like some splash. 

I started by cleaning up the endless plaster dust....which by the way in the middle of I decided to refinish the top of our dining room table.  After all I had to wait for some plaster to dry before sanding,etc. and the table did need refinishing so why not clean up plaster and a wood sanding mess!!  Then I tackled one room at a time.  I stuck with off white ceilings thru out and although some of the rooms took a couple coats I was mostly finished with the painting in one week.  Our bedroom still looked rough so I opted to use the Ralph Lauren (hey a name dropper)sand creek finish.  I chose a green color and the rough, sand like finish hid the additional imperfections that just kept bugging me.  It also gave the same room depth that I don't think regular paint could have achieved.

The other small bedroom was painted a light shade of blue that kept with the nautical theme in it.  The bathroom a neutral beige (good with the new tile) and the kitchen a really cocoa color that I fell in love with....after I got it done.  I was a little nervous at first.  The living room is a lighter color of green. For the new bedroom I went with a sand color that really looks a little more yellow to me but definitely goes with the primitive color tones.  This bedroom was really a surprise.  It took three coats to get the paint to look even. It only had primer on it and what I should have gone with was that new primer with paint tone.  Behr has it and I did choose to go with Behr paint.  It has worked for me in the past.

All right so the inside is painted and that old wallpaper in the kitchen is gone!!!!  Now what???  I looked at magazines....Country Living, the usual for ideas.  And then it dawned on me.  I already like antiques and vintage pieces.  I decorate and redecorate my booth and go to countless auctions.  Da!!!  So I looked at what I had on hand.   When I went to auctions I bought what I liked so that if it didn't sell it I got to keep it for the lake house.  And of course if I bought something and it just didn't work like I had envisioned I rotated it into my shop inventory. 

A word of caution here.....Sandwich Antique Mart which is of course the shop I refer to....is a really, really neat shop.  You (I) can find just about anything you might be looking for and inventory is coming in all the time.  Wow!!  And find I did :)  But it was fun!!  The approach I did take was do what you think would look nice and be useful especially since this is a lake house not a mansion. 

I needed more storage space in the kitchen and with the pie safe I also got rid of some of the appliances on the limited counter space.

The shutter worked great for hanging those extra kitchen utensils (primitive of course)as well as bringing down the blue from the fabulous shelf I found at the shop (thanks Nancy and Ron!)  I love rolling pins, can you tell.  I found the bread box on a trip to Arkansas.  The red tubular container (with the obvious ggarbage can liner in it...remember this ain't Country Living!!)is really nice for the recycles!!
When we added the dishwasher I realized that the cabinet doors didn't quite match so I removed the top board and replaced it with this pine and added all different kinds of antique/vintage outside water faucets.  I still have to stain and rotor the edges but that is a winter project.  The dishwasher itself is peeking out of this right hand corner.  My daughter had decided they wanted to go with stainless and why waste a perfectly good dishwasher..and of course my sun time doing dishes by hand!!!  I put one of those art magnets on the front and I am really, really pleased with the way it turned out.

I put some baskets, tins, candles as well as some primitive pieces on the cupboard tops.  I saw this lighting in a magazine but it was a more modern decor but hey....I liked it.  I measured the height and found these small lamps at Lowe's for like $3.00 (can you believe it).  Since the cupboards aren't new I didn't hesitate to drill through the top and use an extension cord to plug them in.  The refrigerator hides the cords handsomely!!!
I have splashes of red around the whole house so when this cupboard didn't sell I knew it would be perfect to pull that color into the living room.  It also does a great job displaying some family photos and filling an awkward space in the corner at the head of the stair well
The tool caddy holds all those magazines or should I say resource material.  This end table's top also flips so that if I need more room it can be moved behind the chair.
                                              Oooops.  I guess I forgot to take off the tag!!!

What's a lake house without a ship's wheel.  These are hard to find for a good price.  This one I found in Moline, IL.  It was perfect.  The only problem was it is HEAVY!!! and the wall that it HAD to go on only had a stairwell below!!  Not easy but we did it!!!

Look out below!!
As I mentioned earlier, the original bedrooms were small so putting the furniture in was a challenge.  The blue room has a single bed with a set of bunk beds for grandkids and possibly their friends.  In our bedroom I liked the way the furniture fit with the bed at an angle (only after several, several moves that is) but it left the open corner at the head.  So.....
I have white curtains over red cloth roman shades in this bedroom. I thought the wood color and flower bloom pulled all that together.  This door is one of many that I came across at an auction.  Solid Oak, original hardware and totally awesome.  Since nobody loved them I had to give them a home.....$1.00 a piece.

                                               More red and I love the finish on this end table. 



The bathroom is a work in progress.  We replaced the flooring with tile and tiled around the tub.  I loved this cabinet and the patina is lovely. Another Sandwich Antique Mart find (thanks Becky). Now what to do with the base cabinet.  Obviously too narrow for the mirror cabinet.  I saw an absolutely awesome bathroom cabinet on a buying trip but wouldn't you know the battery on my phone was too low to take a picture.  At any rate it utilized old vintage door knobs for water faucet handles.  Hard to describe but I need to figure this one out.  Probably a winter and spring project....

The hallway from the front door goes straight back to the new bedroom.  The doorway to the left is the kitchen and the door to the right goes out to the garage.  Yes, the cars fit!!




I found these snow shoes at Sandwich Antique Mart...thank you Sue!!!
This round piece was in Sandwich also (Greg's) and after mounting it to a base I hung it on the wall behind the bed in the new bedroom.  It brought in the colors and wood tones nicely I think.  I also needed a head board.
This is now the back of our house.  We love to cook out.  This large old bell came from my daughter-in-law's great aunt's house.  She recently moved to a nursing home and I knew this bell meant something to Brandi and the kids.  So we took the bell and put it here.  Maybe we can actually get the grandkids to hear when we call them!!



And this is our place.  Thanks for "listening".  I have enjoyed retracing the steps to get here.  The project continues and so I hope you will continue to indulge me if I include some of the antique ideas and additions as they take their place in this
New Old House.


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