In 2013, Hubby and I unexpectedly purchased our dream home: a beautiful little bungalow on Lake Superior. It took longer than expected to sell our townhouse, which was in another city, a two day’s drive away. That’s why we didn’t actually move into the lakehouse until January 2014 – six months after purchasing it! We have big plans for our new abode but our budget has other plans, so we’re mixing high with low, tackling major renovations in some spaces while giving other rooms a really budget-friendly spruce – all with a look inspired by life on the lake. Welcome to the lakehouse tour! Check out “before” photos, links to DIY projects, and room makeovers – and feel free to weigh in on the progress we’ve made in the comments!
THE EXTERIOR – BEFORE
When we bought the house, we loved the cedar siding on the lake side, but the bummer was that the other three sides were beige vinyl siding that was damaged in many places. We also needed to replace the roof and it turned out that some windows were leaking. So in 2018, we embarked upon the biggest renovation to date! We hired a company who replaced all of the siding, soffit, and fascia. They also replaced all of the windows and we had the four windows on the roadside of the house made much, much bigger. I got to custom design my own windows, which was such a cool experience! And then we topped it all with a new metal roof – which is painted a gleaming copper hue. The actual renovation was a bit of a nightmare, with lots of delays and setbacks (you can read the story here) but the end result was worth the trouble! Here’s a look at the before:
THE HOUSE EXTERIOR – AFTER
Here’s a look at the house exterior now! Complete with copper ferry lights. I also stained the deck black and added matching copper solar caps, plus we made modern vertical slat deck skirting.
THE FIRE PIT – BEFORE
One of our favorite outdoor DIY projects has been how we revamped the fire pit area and DIY welded a modern firepit. Here’s the before/after:
THE FIRE PIT – AFTER
THE HALLWAY – BEFORE
Welcome inside the lakehouse! I wish we had a proper entryway, but this hallway is it. Note the abundance of boob lights and oak. Nothing a little paint, some mid-century inspired door hardware, and a quick trip to Ikea couldn’t fix.
THE HALLWAY – AFTER
We painted the walls, trim, and closet doors and then replaced the front door with a mid-century inspired door. The bright aqua is so cheery in this dark hallway! But the new door lets in a lot more light too, which we needed. New modern door levers – and beachy knobs for the closets – updated the space.
THE KITCHEN – BEFORE
Our small, u-shaped kitchen is slated for a full renovation, but it’s going to take us a little time to save up the cash. In the meantime, the kitchen didn’t look, or function, the way we wanted it to so we gave it a mini DIY makeover on a budget – and then I gave it another mini-makeover with DIY storage cubbies and DIY paneling on the cabinets, painted deeper teal. It’s just temporary, so why not have a little fun, right? Here’s the before:
THE KITCHEN – AFTER
Here’s the first makeover, with open shelving and aqua cabinets:
This post include links to all of the DIY projects. We tore down the old upper cabinets and tile and replaced it with simple paneling, created easy DIY open shelving and a DIY plywood pantry. We painted the cabinets CIL Niagara Mist and replaced the old laminate counters with DIY solid maple counters that Hubby and his Dad built from scratch (!). Later, we painted the vinyl flooring a dark grey – which was such an easy DIY project and has held up so well!
Here’s the kitchen now, with its new DIY storage cubbies and deeper teal hue:
THE LIVING ROOM – BEFORE
Here is the living room before:
THE LIVING ROOM – AFTER
We painted the walls, trim, ceiling and wood beam white and installed a a new modern ceiling fan. Dark grey paint on the faux concrete brick, and matte black paint on the gold fireplace door and vents, updated the fireplace really inexpensively. We later hacked the fireplace and built a new DIY facade to enable us to finally mount our TV above the fireplace. This room went through a series of updates and furniture rearranging, but after splurging on a 20 foot sectional sofa that faces the lake, today the living room looks like this (you can see how it has evolved in this post). The velvet pillows are a DIY project and the large painting is by Hubby’s grandfather.
I found the mint green chair in the classifieds and had it reupholstered – you can see the before/after makeover here. Round velvet pillow is a DIY too.
THE DINING ROOM – BEFORE
Like most of the spaces, the dining room has evolved over time. Here’s the before:
THE DINING ROOM – AFTER
I immediately changed the light fixture, choosing the bold, triple bubble light from Modernica. It suits the 13 foot tall ceiling and looks like a sculpture during the day – at night, it lights up the dining room so beautifully. We brought our old dining room furniture from the townhouse, but I added new MCM inspired grey velvet chairs. We created a floating credenza using three Ikea cabinets which we finished off with a DIY waterfall top and sides, made from grey-stained Carribean pine plywood. See the tutorial here.
THE MAIN BATHROOM – BEFORE
The main bathroom was the first space to receive a top to bottom renovation, but first we tackled a budget–friendly spruce to tide us over while we schemed and dreamed. After the walls, trim, and ceiling were painted white, I removed the trim piece from the top of the cabinet for a cleaner look. Then the cabinets were painted, the tile backsplash was painted, and the gold light and hardware were even painted. I added some large scale art and accessories to make the minty counter seem planned and all of a sudden, the bathroom seemed more “us”. It was a great choice to invest in this mini makeover because our bathroom renovation was delayed a year.
THE MAIN BATHROOM – AFTER
Today the bathroom looks a lot different! We did some of the work: tearing out the old bathroom, installing the blocking for the floating walnut vanities and installing the tub. Then we handed it over to the pros for tiling and installing the quartzite counters and turquoise sinks. Then we stepped back in and painted, installed the lights on the mirror, the towel warmer, trim, and other finishing touches, like the DIY ceiling mounted shower curtain. Mixing DIY and with professional installation saved us some money – and saved us from tiling, which we hate! – and now the bathroom looks like this. Catch up on all of the lakehouse bath reno posts here.
THE MASTER BEDROOM – BEFORE
The master bedroom was originally a pale pink confection with oak trim. The mirrored closet door was broken, hiding a terribly worn out closet fitting with missing areas of hardwood flooring.
THE MASTER BEDROOM – AFTER
The bedroom walls, ceiling, and trim were all painted white. We moved in our headboard (I designed it and my grandfather welded it, along with the two nightstands) – and then decided to build a DIY walnut bed with welded legs to match. We made walnut storage bins for our open side tables to add a little more storage. Along the way, we got the window enlarged, painted a soft green accent wall, and installed a thrifted bubble lamp ($20!). DIY throw pillows and a DIY ice dyed throw complete the look!
P.S. I re-did the ice dyed throw and it’s soooo good now:
We ditched the mirrored doors, repaired the repaired replaced the missing hardwood flooring inside the closet, painted the closet interior bright orange (Hubby’s choice), and installed a new closet fitting system.
Here’s what you see today, with brand new back painted glass closet doors:
THE SECOND BEDROOM – BEFORE
THE HOME OFFICE – NOW
We recently tackled the home office and carved out a functional workspace for two. We created a modern walnut desk for two and moved in my beloved mid-century teal velvet chair (heaved from a trash heap on the way to a Weezer concert). We also build custom magazine holders and swinging “doors” for the Expedit bookcase.
All of the artwork is by Hubby’s grandfather – see how we made a simple DIY frame here.
THE LAUNDRY ROOM – BEFORE
The laundry room has some serious pros and cons. Pro: mainfloor! Con: it’s the first room you see when you come into the house, and a thoroughfare for getting to the powder room. It houses the electric panel and attic access, so it’s a busy room. Plus, it’s Szuka‘s space, so her food and other stuff is stored in here. Before, everything was out in the open:
THE LAUNDRY ROOM – CURRENTLY
We made a huge improvement just painting the walls, ceiling, oak trim and wood door a bright white. We also swapped out the light fixture for something prettier. But until a major reno – and new machines – happens, we needed a quick fix. To hide the old washer, dryer and laundry tub we devised a simple solution: heavy drapes on an easy-to-slide curtain track. My Mom and I sewed in some gathers so the curtains can be quickly closed and look great – no fussing with folds, they billow just so!
THE POWDER ROOM – BEFORE
After we moved in, I gave the powder room a super quick – and free! – makeover, using leftover supplies from other projects… but since then I’ve updated it again! Here’s the temporary look:
THE POWDER ROOM – AFTER
I entered the One Room Challenge as a guest participant and chose the powder room for my first time doing the six-week challenge. You can read all about the makeover right here, but check out the transformation below!
THE FISH ROOM – BEFORE
Welcome to our hilarious little “fish room”: a narrow room with two doors, a window, and sink – perfect for gutting a particularly stinky fish. I guess this is handy when you live on the lake, but I’m not sure we’ll be gutting enough fish to dedicate a space to the art, so we gave it a budget-friendly makeover and I now use it for craft/sewing storage. This room is behind the living room fireplace and inaccessible from inside (why?) so one day I want to put a secret entrance from the living room and turn this into a mudroom/laundry room and convert the current laundry room into an epic pantry/storage.
THE FISH ROOM – AFTER
Because my Mom was downsizing, she has some IKEA furniture – along with a bunch of sewing supplies – that wouldn’t fit in her new place. We did a trade: I could have the furniture (sweet!) and she could store some things here. We combined our craft supplies and upgraded the fish room into this sweet storage space. To save money – and add some FUN – I dyed plywood with a DIY marbled effect and made DIY plywood plank floors. An old cabinet was made to match the new IKEA furniture with a coat of pale blue chalk paint. We kept the plumbing and got a new sink and sewed a DIY laundry tub skirt. See the full makeover right here!
THE GUESTHOUSE – BEFORE
It feels strangely fancy to type “guesthouse” but here it is! It’s a small little building with the teeniest three-piece bathroom, a ratty old sauna and small living area that just barely fits a queen size bed (but you have to dive onto it from the foot of the bed). But it’s awesome and cute and I love having this little bonus!
THE GUESTHOUSE – CURRENTLY
I painted the trim and door bright aqua to refresh the exterior a little:
THE GUESTHOUSE INTERIOR – BEFORE
THE GUESTHOUSE INTERIOR – AFTER
Inside the guesthouse bunkie, I shopped the lakehouse, using a dresser Mom gave me, the old DIY living room pillows, the old DIY bathroom art, the old office lamp, and a plush new wool rug to create a cozy space for guests. Then we sewed some DIY simple sheers. I really waffled about painting/not painting the pine and – thanks to the excellent advice from readers – I kept it natural and am SO glad I did!
DIY MARIMEKKO PILLOWS | DIY ABSTRACT ART | IDY SIMPLE SHEERS
THE GUESTHOUSE BATHROOM – BEFORE
We’re so lucky that the bunkie guesthouse came with a bathroom too! Guests love the convenience (although they hated that the shower door hit the vanity and the main door hit the shower – there was no where to move inside! Plus the shower had started to fall apart and caused major leaking, so we decided to renovate it top to bottom. Unlike the main bath, we didn’t hire any of the work out and did all of the work ourselves, from tiling to creating a DIY stock tank shower!
THE GUESTHOUSE BATHROOM – AFTER
You can get the full scoop on the DIY bunkie bath reno right here.
THE GARAGE – BEFORE
THE GARAGE – AFTER
To help the garage look more like the house exterior (without the price tag!) we have it a DIY makeover! We painted the soffit and fascia, painted the siding – I even did a coastal inspired DIY mural on the garage door to tie in my love of blues and added a copper ferry light to match the house.
This lakehouse is still a work in progress, with many more major renovations and many more mini makeovers to come! Follow Dans le Lakehouse on Instagram or Pinterest (or sign up for the newsletter) to stay in the loop and see our latest renovating, decorating and crafting adventures!