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  • Jen Schwindt

The Family Cottage

Last week I worked on a fun side project. My family and I went to help my in-laws at their cottage.

It was time to freshen up the main living area. The cottage has been in the family for years and has been an ongoing project. It is not a very big space, in fact it's quite small. However, we have a lot of fun together there and we have made many memories. Recently the pine ceilings have been added and the exterior walls drywalled. I was given the freedom to choose the paint colour and put it all back together.

The colour I chose was a soft warm grey. Anyone who knows me is not likely surprised by my choice. It's a very light neutral colour and is classic which is perfect for this space. We don't want to repaint anytime soon, we'd rather be relaxing when spending time at the cottage. In this small space we needed something bright and fresh.

This project shows that with some creativity and some hard work you can transform a space for a very, very small budget. We kept all the existing furniture and most of the accessories. We added a few new items but were able to do it in a cost effective way. Scroll down for a couple before shots. Sometimes rearranging and putting things that you love back into a space in a new fresh way is all you need to do to make a space feel more current. Plus I strongly believe you should be surrounded by the things you love as long as they bring you pure enjoyment. No guilty feelings, just positive ones.

I rearranged the furniture and painted a few pieces. (I'm sure the neighbours wondered why I had pieces of furniture scattered all around the front yard, you'll have to visualize, I forgot to snap a picture) I re-covered some others.

We painted an old wooden dresser with a fresh coat of white paint and moved it from the guest bedroom into the main living area. Just because it's a dresser, doesn't mean you need to keep it in a bedroom. It now has a different purpose and is filled with old movies and games. We quieted down the futon and covered it with a neutral coloured fabric.

Okay, I will be honest, it's a painters drop cloth, and it works. It's durable, washable, fits the colour scheme and budget.

We added fun pillows that fit with our simple, airy, cottage/Canadian theme. We kept the existing bookcase the same, just relocated it.

We kept the chair, covering it with a neutral fabric. This was a garage sale find and will probably be replaced in the near future. We gave an old blanket box a fresh coat of white paint as well. This is used in the living area to store extra blankets for those cool nights. It can also acts as a table or extra seating as the need arises. The living area is very narrow and does not allow for a center coffee table. We added a few more accessories and subtracted some others.

Here is a sign I made for this project. The cottage is on an island, and sometimes it's like all sense of time gets lost and schedules are nonexistent. It's a reminder that, it's okay to sit back and relax, that's the idea of being at the cottage.

In the bedroom we painted an old end table that was in the main living area a very soft blue. It's now a cute useable addition to the bedroom. When you are creating a space for your guests, it's nice to leave some surfaces cleared off. They will be bringing their own items and need a place to put their belongings while they visit. A few accessories are nice, but don't overdo it.

The bunting flag is simply scrapbook paper cut and strung together with thread. I used decorative tape (that won't damage the walls) to hang it up. It adds a sense of whimsy and gives the room a fun playful look by adding a pop of colour. It can also be temporary as it was inexpensive and not made to last forever. Nice and simple.

The other bedroom had a dark wooden armoire, which made the room feel crowded and it was in need of a paint job. It was also coated with the light blue paint. It now makes the room feel brighter, bigger and fresh. It also maintains the much needed storage in this bedroom.

In this change we were careful to keep the sentimental memories. One tradition our family has is to write the dates and the names of those who visited the cottage on the door frames between the bedrooms. It would be a shame to paint over those, plus the wooden interior walls add texture and warmth and a more rustic feel. It gives the space character and a sense of history. It tells part of the story. It's fun to see all of the markings on the walls of years past. We also kept the original floors, they are beautiful and add to the look we were creating.

The reason most people go to the cottage is to relax, to enjoy the outdoors, to escape from the everyday. It's to enjoy the company of family and friends. A simple airy space that focuses on the outdoors is best for that. In this case the lighter colour makes the space feel bigger, brighter and fresh. It's not distracting and the best part is the view to the lake out the front. That's where we want the focus to be.

Here are a few pictures to show what the cottage looked like before our transformation.

Here is what the cottage looks like now.

I'm sure this space will continue to evolve over time and that's okay. It's about enjoying the process.

If you would like to keep up and get a sneak peak at the projects I'm working on, follow me on Instagram.

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