Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

May 14, 2014

My Sliding Door: If I Had a Million Dollars . . .

After I finished my Master's in Philosophy, but before I began my PhD, I started a second Master's degree but left in the first semester.  Now that I have finished my doctorate, I can say with the perfect clarity of hindsight that it was the right decision, but at the time I felt like I was floundering.  I have one delicious memory, though, that makes that lost semester totally worth it.  In economics class, our Eastern European professor was trying to explain some economic principle to us and to illustrate his point he asked the class, "well, if you had a million dollars, you wouldn't eat Kraft Dinner would you?" to which someone replied, "of course we would, we'd just eat more".  His total befuddlement as we all broke into song (and sang the whole thing) still makes me laugh.

Anyway, if we had a million dollars, we wouldn't have cheap plastic tub surrounds, would we?  Of course we would, we'd just have more!  This house, also on Lake Superior, is listed for a cool $998,500.  The design is said to have been inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, and built 17 years ago.  Here was my reaction as Hubby and I scrolled through the listing photos:

Someone loves purple as much as I love turquoise!  Hey, we need some Adirondack chairs.  


I'm happy to see that $1,000,000 gets a dock a lot less rickety than ours.  That view!


The front entrance has a kind of commercial feel, doesn't it?  It opens right into the kitchen, and with that raised area in front of the sink it feels like the receptionist's desk at my dentist.  With almost 3,000 square feet, I'd expect a little distance between the front door and the kitchen.


I think I drank the kool-aid . . . the knotty cabinetry seems strangely appealing.  With light marble counters, pale grey subway tile backsplash, and new hardware it could work without lifting a paint brush.  Or maybe that's just the part of my brain totally sick of painting talking?  

Hey, I want a cozy library like this, with close proximity to snacks and a view of the lake.  


The floor to ceiling windows are incredible.


The throw looks like it's trying to escape.  Does the home stager know it's not supposed to literally be thrown onto furniture?  I cannot get over how many gorgeous windows there are. 


Okay, lots more wood.  The Hickory wood floors are amazing because they lend an upscale rustic feel, but the wood beams make the ceiling feel really low - I'd want to paint those out.  You want to look out, not up.  Why do the people who design lakehouses in this area think that combining a dozen different kinds of wood is a requirement for lake living?   


It's a great size for a master bedroom, but I can't not look at the man.  Is he changing his underwear?  Is this some really famous piece and I've now revealed how uncultured I am? 


Master ensuite has lots of storage and insane view of the lake.  I could live with this!  Gold faucets like these make it hard for me to love the brass that's in again.  Yes, today's brass has more modern shapes and cool matte finishes, but I have too many awful memories of 80s decor.  I'll appreciate the trend from afar while I desperately clutch at the last remaining brushed silver anything I can find.


In the second bedroom, another throw makes a mad dash for freedom.


The second bedroom (and third bedroom) have ensuites!!  Fancy.  But what a let down with the cheap shower surround instead of tile.  It's like ours, minus the portal doors.  Is there a reason this is so popular here?  Is there a checklist?  Plastic shower surround?  Check.  A variety of wood species?  Check.  The tiniest kitchen ever, and let's make it a u-shape so it's even squashier?  Check.  [I ran with this bit for a while when I was making my commentary to Hubs, so you're welcome for editing it here].


And the third bathroom . . . 


Yup, we're officially painting the exterior of the house an almost-black grey.  It looks cute on their shed, which is probably the size of our place.


I'm so happy some of you expressed an interest in seeing other Lake Superior homes.  I certainly appreciate the company because it feels less like snooping if we're doing it collectively.  I don't plan on making this a regular feature, but there will be a few more to share as they pop up on the market for the season.  I dipped my hands in the lake the other day (my feet were ensconced in boots).  It was cold, but not pneumonia-cold.  I plan on swimming June 1st, come hell, high water, or blizzard.
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33 comments

  1. Beautiful house! I love all the windows and stone (but yeah, not so much the bathrooms!)

    Loved your story about singing BNL in class. That's awesome. As a big BNL fan, I've always wondered if your blog name was a reference to One Week and the line, "we're dans le maison,"

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    1. Maybe the song subconsciously influenced the name because I certainly spent days learning the lyrics!! Love BNL. But the blog name came from the way I "speak" French at home - peppering in the one or two words I learned in elementary school. I call it my Bugs Bunny French . . .

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  2. oooh, this does not look like a million dollar home to me. The window, the view, the floors are lovely but the layout seem a bit horrible. I'm loving looking at other lake homes... makes me start daydreaming about the one I want! haha

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    1. I'm also on the hunt for ideas . . . but this floor plan made my head spin. I do not get the kitchen, it is such a strange placement and layout. Happy you like this peek inside lake homes in the area!

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  3. sigh. such squishy kitchens!!!! but the views are amazing!!!
    Loving the bit about the checklist for lake living....
    Also I too will NOT get into brass. Looks cute, but I'd NEVER go there! I've decided on a dark charcoal brushed handle for my next kitchen (painted an off white with grey undertone) then on a charcoal finish on cherry I plan to have polished chrome handles! Then white fantasty granite. Look it up. It's beautiful!

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    1. The kitchens must drive you INSANE, right? A dark charcoal handle sounds amazing - so inspired. I googled white fantasy granite - it's so stunning!! Now I want that . . .

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    2. If you google white fantasy granite and the second kithcen that you see with the dark island, white perimeter. What's funny is I have designed my next kitchen... and it's essentially that SAME layout!!! The 'tall wall', a L shaped kitchen, large island, and a walk in pantry (for an extra fridge and sort of a scullery). If you ever wanted to for fun you could send me your measurments and I could just draw something up for fun :)

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    3. I found it! That kitchen is so stunning!! There is so much to love: the white fantasy granite on the dark island and the complementary dark counter on the white cabinetry. The glass front cabinets! That incredible wall of tile! I would love to send you my measurements and get some ideas for when we renovate.

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  4. I love this feature! As a former Minnesotan relocated to the southern US by work, I have many happy memories of Lake Superior and a vague plan to buy a lake house there - US or Canada side - should we win the lottery. Thank goodness we have a son in Duluth we can visit - and of course make trips to Thunder Bay - another of our favorite cities! I just adore looking at lake houses for sale there and dreaming about what if.

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    1. So nice to meet a former Minnesotan. I love Duluth so much. We often travel there, sometimes for the day or for a longer vacation. I have so many fond memories of Minnesota from my childhood, and it feels nice to be back in the region. (Actually, I was in Grand Marais and Beaver Bay today for a little road trip).

      We once stayed in a rental house on London Drive, did you ever see that post? You might like seeing inside it as well - it was a stunner (even if it needed some TLC):
      http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.ca/2011/12/historic-haunted-house-holiday.html

      I'm sending positive-lottery-winning vibes your way :)

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  5. Your commentary is priceless, Tanya! (And spot-on, I'd say.) The image of afghans struggling to escape from the house of a thousand acrylic tub surrounds will linger with me. :)

    One thing you said did strike me in a sort of practical way, though. You noted that people seem to think they have to have a bunch of different wood types in one space at a lake house. And that took me back to your guest cottage/studio space, where I remembered thinking that the first step I would take would be to painting the trim. It would certainly calm down the sauna-fest look, I'm thinking....

    Now, the other thing is, just don't try to be a realtor anytime soon. Your sense of humor would get the better of you, and you'd never sell anything you didn't love.

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    1. Haha, "the house of a thousand acrylic tub surrounds" - that should have been the post title!! I have no future as a realtor. I'd sneak in a redecorate while the homeowners were out.

      You're right about the Etsy studio - painting the trim and maybe even the mismatched doors would do a lot to tone down the wood. There is just so much, and the floor is a faux laminate which would have been so much better in something different - like tile or a non-wood look.

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  6. That house is so all over the place, that it gives me a headache...with weird-sized rugs in weird positions, every color and style of hardware (chrome, white, gold, bronze...and sometimes several in the same room), pictures too large or too small or too high for the spot they're hung, furniture (also in every conceivable style) that doesn't fit the size of the rooms, peculiar choices in decorator items, including my all-time favorite, fake plants on top of the cabinets in the kitchen...and those throws! I know, I know...not everyone pays as much attention to intricate detail as some of us do, but when you're asking a million bucks for a house, somebody should. (Removing my Decorator Bitch costume and returning to my normal life as a mild-mannered grandmother now...)

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    1. I LOVE how this house got you riled up. You're always so cool when you comment, cool like a cucumber. I am going to search for an even more bizarre house to get a rise out of you again, lol. Everything you've said is spot-on.

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    2. haha A house like that truly makes me crazy.

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    3. And the price tag adds fuel to the fire, right? For a million bucks, I expect a damn fine lay out and a rug the right size :)

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  7. Money can't buy taste! I love this. All blogs should be this all the time. How entertaining!! And I so agreed with all of this- damn you half naked man! [I'm uncultured too so its cool].

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    1. I'm going to run out of properties to peer into soon . . . but I'm happy it's been fun for you to read. Now, is the man changing his underwear someone special??? I am too afraid to google it.

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    2. Okay, the man hiking up his night shirt is hilarious and disturbing. I was surprised so many commented without mention of it, until Caroline.
      Like you, I couldn't see the rest of the bedroom or focus much on the rest of your post. When I saw it, I was so distracted by my "what the hell?" internal monologue until I read your commentary and then I couldn't stop giggling. Clearly, I'm not cultured but even if I recognized that piece, I wouldn't 'get' it. I thought he might be about to use the commode (more evidence that I'm uncultured) but I am laughing at the thought of him changing his undies! Feeling a bit like a 10 yr old as I chuckle.

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    3. Haha, turns out it's a woman! My Mom commented as "anonymous" further down with all of the details. So it was, indeed, a repro of an "important piece," but I still don't love it and I don't get it in the space. I still see a man changing his undies, so I guess I'm a 10 year old at heart too, lol.

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  8. I love this series Tanya! It's so fun to peek into these lake houses - I love the exterior of this one with that wrap around porch and those huge windows! And I so enjoy your commentary, especially the throws trying to escape ;)

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    1. I think you'd enjoy my commentary less if you experienced the drawn out, beat a joke to death version Hubby gets :) Poor guy.

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  9. A Woman Bathing in a Stream (Hendrickje Stoffels?)1654 by Rembrandt. Commonly believed to be one of many portraits of his mistress. She was the wet nurse for his son Titus after the death of Rembrandt's wife Saskia van Ulyenburgh. I am guessing that is NOT the original, lol.

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    1. Haha, I AM uncultured. Thanks, Mom, for enlightening us all - including your Dummy Daughter. If it's not an abstract and turquoise, I'm not interested, lol. You're such a smart cookie!! I had no idea that was a woman . . .

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    2. This is what happens when you leave me unsupervised in an art gallery while running ahead to the modern art exhibits.;)

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    3. Lol. Didn't you also get 100% on your art history final??

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  10. I agree this house has an awkward layout and why do designers/builders/architects screw up kitchens so badly? In a
    In a large house there's no reason to squash in the kitchen. Because it such a functional space, you'd hope that more effort would be put into it.
    I can see because of the size and location why it's pricey but the decor is surprising. And the wonky layout- if they want there price, they should hire a skilled stager. It can make a world of difference.
    I feel the same about 80s brass, it's spoiled all brass for me. How I've seen it used lately, can be quite stunning but I'm reluctant to try it myself. I'm afraid it will come off cheap or mismatchy. I'm sticking with fixtures of brushed nickel or some pieces with oil rubbed bronze hardware.
    Loved this post- obviously amused by the man in the painting, but your clever comments throughout had me chuckling.

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    1. I'm so happy to provide a giggle once in awhile. In the real world, I like to laugh. A lot. Hubby and I crack jokes all of the time, but it doesn't always come across as well in my writing. Like you, I've seen brass and gold done so beautifully but sometimes the metal mixing can come off as too busy. I think it pairs well with the luxe, rich colours I see becoming trendy - deep, jewel tones (and a revamped forest green pops up everywhere now) but it's just not me. Silver keeps things light and airy and pairs well with blues and greys. I try to step outside my comfort zone, but I also don't have the money on hand to do/buy things twice so I think it's important to go with what I love, regardless of what's going on in the design world. Other people have the cash to keep up with the trends, I need to go with what I can love for a long time. I think you're in the same position as me, so I understand your reluctance. Oil rubbed bronze is a quietly classic choice.

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  11. I had to laugh at the comment about brass taps, I'm currently living in a rented house with the worse faux brass hardware in the bathroom, it's plastic with a a fake brass plastic coating which is badly peeling. If I never see brass hardware again it will be too soon! I'm all about cooper at the momment

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    1. Oh my, that sounds awful!! Faux brass sounds horrible!
      Copper is definitely having a moment - I have not been able to resist a few copper pieces here and there at the thrift shops.

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  12. The rug in the master bedroom is driving me a little insane. Why is it off to the side? I don't know anything about decorating a house but surely it would look better centred? At least for the photo! Love the outside though :) Don't know if I'd fork out a million for it, imaginary money or not.

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    1. I'm always suspicious of rugs like this - I think they're hiding a missing floor board or something. It would have been better to remove it for the showings and photos and just let the wood floors shine; I'm sure they weren't cheap!

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