Lake Cottage Before and After

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  • Home isn’t always before and afters, but even progress feels oh so good! Today I’m so excited to share before and “afters” of our little lake cottage which includes some really easy and budget friendly ideas. {Originally shared June 18th, updated September 8th}

    yellow house

    You can follow along on Instagram with #calmwatercottage. I share a lot of behind the scenes progress on stories and a little of our lake life!

    Before we get started, keep in mind that everyone has different taste and I’m sharing to show you how we’ve personalized the home to make it reflect our taste. I’m so grateful to the previous owners who allowed us the opportunity to live the lake dream! You can read the story behind the lake cottage here.

    Let’s kick it off with the exterior!

    roof before and after

    I was never a fan of the orange roof, so when we had leaks in the kitchen and around the chimney, I wasn’t sad to see it go. We replaced it with griege colored roof, which toned down the yellow siding – a lot!

    lake house

    Given that the home is on a slope, we also had water during heavy storms entering the home, so we removed all of the overgrown bushes, added soil for proper drainage, a retaining wall to the left of the home to keep water away from the lower level and added new landscaping. We have kind neighbors to thank for this project as we couldn’t have done it ourselves!

    A fresh coat of paint brought the pergola back to life.

    A shutter blew off during a storm, so for now, we removed the other. Finally, we power washed everything and what a difference that makes!

    The Exterior Plan:

    • I would absolutely love to get new siding – some is wood, some is vinyl and I have a couple ideas that I think would really transform this little cottage.
    • Shutters! They add so much charm.
    • I’m a tree hugger, but considering removing these two – what do you think?
    • We’ve custom ordered a dutch door, more to come!
    • We’re adding new rock this fall to keep landscaping a little more maintenance free.

    Now onto the entryway…

    how to paint tile

    Pardon our realtor who was in a hurry to leave and didn’t understand just how important before photos were to me and the planning process.

    To update this space, we painted the tile floor, removed the wallpaper below the chair rail and painted it a soft cream, and added new sconces.

    painted tile

    While it looked so much better, we decided to remove the tile altogether in late August when replacing the carpet. We did the tear out ourselves and I’m excited to share that the paint didn’t chip or scratch when being hit with a hammer and removed with a crowbar if you decide to paint tile in your home!

    easy to clean rug

    The tile previously broke up the hall, entryway, stairwell and living room. Now it feels like one continuous room giving the illusion of more space. We use an indoor outdoor area rug that can be hosed down to protect the area.

    the look for less - a Serena and Lily inspired bedroom

    Through the first door on the left is a guest bedroom.

    before and after home

    We removed the border, painted it and added new blinds and a pendant light. You can read more about this guest bedroom here and shop the room here.

    inexpensive homemade art - framing photos

    When we replaced the carpet, we were able to eliminate the area rug, making it easier to maintain, which is always the goal at the lake cottage.

    patterned carpet


    The hall bath was dark and lacked luster, so we added a grasscloth wallpaper with a little sheen to reflect light, new mirror, toilet, sink, light, modern faucet and fixtures, art and tassel shower curtain to make it feel fresh. You can read more about this modern bathroom here.

    modern bathroom with pedestal sink

    gold bathroom mirror

    Our master is also a work in progress…

    bedroom before photo
    bedroom before photo

    but feels fresh with a new {and inexpensive} pendant light from IKEA, headboard, bedding, and rug. Re-positioning the bed to embrace the lake view made all the difference for the master bedroom.

    update wallpaper without removing it

    update a room with wallpaper

    I can’t decide; should the wallpaper stay or go? I’d also really love new wood blinds, but I need one large blind and have been unsuccessful locating a company that can do it. If you have any recommendations, pleeeeeease share!

    modernize wallpaper

    rattan furniture

    The master bedroom also benefited from new carpet. We eliminated the rug we previously used to disguise the old carpet.

    dated living room

    The living room is really coming together. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I take a less is more approach, so we removed curtains, blinds, the wine fixture, etc. However, given we use the home to entertain, we needed to have plenty of seating, so to make it feel intimate, we created a seating area in the center of the room.

    lake decorating ideas

    We’re waiting on one more chair, but in all, we will have a sofa, 4 chairs, 2 folding stools and a wooden stool that doubles as a side table.

    lake decor

    We’ve added a chandelier in lieu of the ceiling fan that will be repositioned later this year, painted the entire room, including the chimney a soft cream paint color.

    beach living room

    Still, the carpet felt out of place. Replacing it made the space feel so fresh!

    90's kitchen

    The kitchen is the perfect example that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a big difference. Removing blinds, curtains, wallpaper, and accessories allowed the light to pour into this room. You can read more about this kitchen before and after here, but the iPhone photos below say it all.

    wood kitchen cabinets

    The second, larger guest bedroom is another great example that you don’t have to make big changes to make a significant difference. This space was simply updated by embracing the lake view, faking a headboard with pillows, adding art and beautiful classic bedding to tie in the wallpaper.

    bedroom before

    choosing and arranging bed pillows

    bedroom before and after

    Now it’s light and bright…

    lake bedroom

    classic bedroom

    The hall between the guest room and the girls’ room didn’t need much, but this little brass light sure brightens the space and adds nautical charm. It’s been recovered {rewired and cleaned} from a sunken ship. Sadly the before photo doesn’t share the original light, but still offers a little perspective.


    brass light from sunken ship

    square patterned carpet

    Onto the girls’ bunk bed room! It’s my absolutely favorite, I love hearing the giggles that come from it each morning and nightfall. You can read about it here and find sources here.

    bedroom before

    How to decorate a bunk bed room

    everything you need to know about patterned carpet

    Last, but not least, the deck. Replacement is overdue and we look forward to replacing it this year with something a little more maintenance free and with glass panels to offer better views both from the deck, kitchen and living room. We spend a lot of time on the deck enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner when we’re not on the water, but I love stargazing with Chris on Friday nights on the chaise lounges the most! You can read more about the deck here.


    entertaining al fresco for fall

    There’s not much to see in the lower level living room or lower patio yet, but I’ll be sure to share as they continue to progress.

    I hope you enjoyed a peek into our lake retreat in progress! PS, you can shop most of our lake cottage here.

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