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Kathy's Lakside Cottage


Dear Christine,
My husband and I have been lucky enough to buy a lakefront cottage as a gathering place for our kids and extended family.  It looks fine from the street side, but from the water...not so much.  The basement level 2 sliding doors, main door, and small window (just to the right of the right side sliding door) and posts all seem misplaced and unbalanced.  The two spiral staircases are hazardous and eat up the small amount of deck space above, but we need a route to the water.  Any suggestions for how we can  improve the look and safety of the house from the water   Thank you so much--I love your blog!









Hi Kathy,


Congratualations on your beautiful cottage.  Let me give you six little steps to make it fabulous.


1.  No Metal- change it to wood.  The metal makes the place look like 1985.  We're going for Forever timeless here-not The Goldbergs.  It might not be the fact that it's metal that's bad, but just the fact that it looks so dated.

2.  Change the fluted Greek columns to square.  Fluted Greek columns are a very formal look.  This cottage is not nearly formal enough to pull them off.  Go with a simple square- no smaller- the size is good, shape is not.

3.  Increase the scale of the trim.  The size of your trim, on the other hand, is way too small.  I am referring to the trim around the outside of your windows, doors, gutter areas, etc.  We want it much more pronounced.  It might sound like a little thing, but it is not.  It is a BIG thing in making the home charming. 

4.  Add a porch railing.  When you replace the metal one on the second story- add one on the first.

5.  Change the siding to board and batten or a wood shake.  Your siding is small.  Larger siding would also be a good look- board and batten or a shake would update it tremendously.  If in all of your plans you don't want to spend all of the money I am suggesting- skip this step before the others.  But- this one will also help.

6.  Repaint.  I would still keep the color light and neutral, and I admit, I can't see the roof color, but an updated color, like Driftwood Gray from Cabot Stains in the house below would be beautiful.


Thanks for writing in Kathy- you're a lucky lady to have a beautiful lake side home like this, and I know you'll make it even more beautiful.


Still a Chair Rail Snob




As "a chair rail snob," maybe you can help.  I'm finally removing wallpaper from my dining room.  I have a 2 1/2 inch and a 1 inch chair rail with a 9 inch wallpaper border between them and wallpaper below.  I plan to paint the space where paper was to match the tan above the rails.  Do I need to remove the lower 1 inch rail or could I leave it?  I like trim and wondered if a double rail effect would be ok.




Hi Nichole,

My first instinct is to remove the whole thing, and add a beefy chair rail. or none at all.  I would definitely not paint the center portion the wall color, this accentuates the small size of the trim.  If anything you could perhaps paint it all (both trims and the space between them) your trim color,  making it all look like a chair rail.  Here is a link to a blog where someone did something similar, except at the ceiling rather than the center of the wall.  The "snob" in me would not want a drywall texture in the center portion, making it so laborious, it would hardly be worth salvaging the existing trim. 


The Christmas Reveal Part 6 The Final Reveal

Whew!  It's over!  I still don't recommend this craziness to anyone.  The best part is that it made my husband and I have a deadline. Without one, we can be kind of slow.  And by "we" I mean "him".  ;-)  The kids are all happy with their new rooms.  Like I said in my last post, I never found new bedding for the boys, so I bought them new sleeping bags, and put them on the bed, instead of settling for something I wasn't happy with.  When I get the bedding and window treatments in there, I will post a follow up. 


Check out the new baseboards.  That is really what took so long, but without good trim, the room would never have looked really good.  You need to start with a great foundation.  Ideally, I would have had hardwood floors put in too...   I realized I don't have a great shot of the area rug, but one of my sons said it was his favorite part.  It's a great little rugby striped hooked wool rug. 


I replaced their standard size pillows with king size, which really is perfect for a twin size bed.  Standard is good for two pillows on a full size bed, that's about it.  Almost every other scenario is better off with king size pillows.  I got the navy cases from Garnet Hill.  The sheets are from Pottery Barn Kids.  They are old, from their previous bedroom. I'll get new ones in there when I come across ones I like better than these.  The hooked dog pillow is from PBK also, the penguin pillow is my favorite- it was from  The mural is from York.  I am a York dealer, so anyone interested can purchase it through me


The girls were super happy with their room.  They have even kept it clean for a little over 24 hours.  Shocking.  The boys have too.  I hope it lasts.  A lot of their surplus junk disappeared in the process, which will hopefully help them to maintain the clean look. 


The sheets were from Garnet Hill.  I found the chevron blankets at Home Goods.  The white pin tuck duvets and shams were from West Elm.  I got the fur pillows from Target, and the small pillows with the sayings from Francesca's. 


The light fixture was from IKEA, and the furry butterfly chair is from Pottery Barn Teen.  The drapes were Pottery Barn. 


The room needed crown moulding and a larger window sill, preferably framed out windows, but that would have sent Steve and I into marriage counseling, so I didn't push it. 


Did I mention that Steve (my husband) made the beds?  They weren't new, for this project, he had made them before.  He used these terrific heavy duty accuride glides, and the storage is amazing, allowing me to not be cramming dressers into these not-huge bedrooms.  The headboards I added, they are from Padma's Plantation. 


The Christmas BedroomReveal Part 5

Well, it's Christmas Eve.  Am I done?  A picture tells a thousand words right?  OK- here are some shots I just took of the boys' room:


still a mess....



Stephen is currently hanging a ceiling fan while the rest of the world is eating Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies.  Not sure I recommend this...but having a deadline is good in that at least it gets things done.  Well- mostly done.  I ordered a pre-made Roman shade for the boys' room.  It was terrible, I'm sending it back, and I'll order something nice, which of course, will not be here on time.   The boys' will just wake up with the sun for a little while.  I also haven't found bedding for the boys' bedrooms.  Little boys are smelly.  (Plus our dog sleeps in here) I wash their bedding a LOT.  I want something that  washes well, has the perfect colors, not too sophisticated, not too list of demands was too long.  However, January is the month for bedding, not December.  With all of the "white sales" will also come new inventory, and I'm sure I'll find something soon.  I really liked this duvet cover from Garnet Hill, but with the frequency that I'm washing, I really didn't want a duvet, especially one that might need ironing.  It seems like a hassle.  I loved this one, from Serena and Lilly, but was hoping to find something less expensive. 


If anyone sees something like the quilt above, for less $, let me know.  That one was close to $200 each.  It really is perfect though...


My girls' room is close to done- much closer than the boys'. 


A friend of moved into a house once, where the previous owner had, in her son's room, vinyl decals that looked like gang vandalism.  Some of the decals were made to look like bullet holes.  What parent would do that?  I am going for the opposite.  I want their bedroom decor to make them better people.  I want it to inspire them, make them feel safe and happy, good about themselves. 


Can you read it?  Love one another, don't forget to be aawesome, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Others say:  some days you have to create your own sunshine, happy girls are the prettiest, be realistic: plan for a miracle, you're kind of a big deal. 


Hopefully it will "work" and my kids will become perfect, well adjusted happy members of society, who love God and are kind to others.   I wonder how the boy with the graffiti bullet wallpaper is doing...  ?



I'd better stop blogging and get busy!


The Christmas Bedroom Reveal Part 4

Nancy and I added reading lights to the boys' room.  I need Nancy to help me, because I am scared to drill into the wall.  When people hire me to decorate, I don't actually do the drilling.  This is something I pay other people to do.  Too many years of that, along with an over-active "it needs to be perfect" attitude, combined with my husband wincing every time I try to hold a power tool, and somehow I am convinced I will mess things up.  In comes Nancy.  She's not intimidated by anything.  Just what I need.  I love these lights.  I know they sort of look like kitchen faucets, but I like them.

I switched up the girls' bedroom wall a bit. It still needs a little help, but I need to go shopping to get another item or two for it.

A couple other views:

And one by the door...