Cottage Project – 2 Year Update with Pictures

We purchased this cottage about 2 years ago this month.  There was nothing “wrong” with the cottage at the time, but we decided to make many improvements to move the place forward.  I wanted to write this post to outline the major work that was done since we purchased.  This article certainly isn’t a “how-to”, but it is a nice chronicle for when we look back and forget what things were like before we started with this little project.

Our cottage project is moving along nicely, if you consider a weekend handyman’s pace “nicely”, that is.  Still much to do, but that is the reason that I wanted a weekend cottage.  We were fortunate enough to find a place that has a very large garage to store tools, material, debris, and offer a nice work space for me and my son (age 10)  Funny, but the garage is the best place to be during a hot afternoon (Shade, incredible view, and a great breeze).

I am going to run through the bigger projects while viewing my photo log:

  1. Painted Floors
    Removed old Vinyl and painted wood floors with a high quality white floor paint.  This was one of the first projects tackled along with the pre-requisite ceiling, wall, and trim paint. Best to paint floors before you have your furniture in place.
    painted cottage floors
  2. Built in Bookcase / Window seat
    This project was great since the period of time between a sale contract and a closing on the cottage was about 60 days.  I took detailed measurements of the window that we knew needed a built-in (my wife always wanted this).  With detailed measurements in hand, I built this in my garage at home. I built this as 4 parts for easy transport (2 end shelf units, upper shelf section, middle bench with hinged lid).  Once on site, and with the help of my stronger and taller brother-in-law, I secured this in place.  When it was secured, I then added the face framing to tie the 4 pieces together.  Paint, a nice cushion, and a re-purposed table and we had an eating area.
    cottage window seat wall
  3. Bunk Beds
    Not exactly a part of the cottage, but this is another item that was built at home between the sale contract and the closing date.  These bunk beds were built with a plan from and were the perfect item for my son’s room.  It was nice to build them at home and make it a family project with my son assisting in the construction and my wife handling the painting.  Part of the reason that we selected this plan is  the style, but also the fact that we could break these down into 4 flat pieces to carry in the back of a truck with ease.
    bunk bed cottage project
  4. Platform Bed
    Who knew that our old Olympic Queen mattress would fit somewhere?  The olympic queen is a mattress size that is 6″ wider than a queen mattress.  Because of this, it doesn’t fit properly on any bed frame and there are very few sheet sets that fit.  When my wife tired of these issues, we put this mattress set in storage in hopes that we would have a future use.  Would you believe that the bedroom wall in our cottage was an EXACT fit for this mattress?  To maximize the space in this small bedroom we build a platform bed with storage underneath.  This turned out as a fantastic setup with no space taken up by a headboard/foot board and a nice solid foundation for the mattress.
    cottage platform bed
  5. Cottage Kitchen Redo
    The cottage kitchen is only 6′ x 6′.  The end is open, so it sort of spills out into an open area, but the basic foot print is 6′.  Obviously a kitchen this size creates many challenges.  My wife refers to this as a one-butt kitchen.  The prior layout had a stove on the wall opposite the sink.  You had to stand to the side to open the oven door.  My wife was able to salvage the old sink with the built-in cutting board and steel cabinet.  This is really a classic cottage kitchen piece.  The other 2 cabinets in the kitchen (that is right 2 cabinets) were a wooden upper and lower. We pulled those items and were able to reuse in the new setup.  To deal with the narrow kitchen, we moved the stove to the same wall as the sink.  This, along with 12″ deep cabinets that we built for the opposite wall helped to make this space feel much larger.  You can see that the cabinetry, flooring, walls, and counter tops were redone.  The cabinets were the perfect winter project in my home workshop.  We were able to build them to our exact requirements to fit this tiny space.  Once completed, we sprayed on a quality finish that should help them last for years.  A great Ikea butcher block counter-top (only $189) really tops this off and keeps a classic feel.
    cottage kitchen redo
  6. Cottage Bath Redo
    The cottage bath was very interesting.  As with the kitchen, it is rather tiny.  It had a shower that must have come from a submarine back in the day since was 30″x30″ and had 3 sides made of steel.  We had to open up 2 walls to handle some new plumbing so we decided to do a subway tile on 2 walls with an open shower that is simply curtained off.  This gives the bath a larger feeling than it would have had we placed a shell with an end wall in the room.  New walls that included a frame and panel design and new fixtures made this a pleasant room.  We also added a “dual flush” toilet since we are on septic. This is a great water saver for anywhere.  If you press 1 button, the flush is only 1.1 gallons of water, the 2nd button is the full 1.6 gallon flush.  Head into Home Depot or Lowe’s to take a look for your own dual flush toilet (stock item).
    cottage bath - after cottage bath - before
  7. New Water Line
    Not much heavy lifting on my part here, but a new water line to replace the old well made us feel a lot better about the water coming out of our taps.
    Cottage water line Water line digging
  8. Cottage Sun Room Project (in progress)
    We are in the middle of our sun room renovation right now.  There were many decisions with regard to this room, but the easy one was the window replacement.  The current windows were simply triple track aluminum storms.  Not only that, but they caulked them shut to keep the water out. The real bad part of this is that it kept the AIR out as well. No lake breeze for us.  The windows have been replaced and re-sized.  We added about 12″ in height to the windows which gives us much more light and a better view from the main part of the cottage (we no longer need to duck to see the horizon from the kitchen).   The exterior of this room was done in a vinyl siding.  Although nice, and low maintenance, it doesn’t have the charm that we are after.  You can see the new window trim in the collage below (click for a large version). We will be pulling the vinyl and replacing with cedar shakes.
    cottage sunroom windows
  9. Book Case Door
    This bookcase door is still a bit of a work in progress, but it is coming together quite nicely. What 10-year-old wouldn’t want a “hidden” room.  We are building this bookcase door that latches using a book as the handle/latch.  We will accomplish this with a 2×4 that is hinged at the bottom (to the shelf) and then tethered to the shelf on the back side with a cable that provides strength so that the book can be pulled on to open the door.  This block will be wrapped with a book that is glued solid.  The actual latch mechanism is a gate latch at the top of the door jamb.  A fishing line is attached to the top side of the book, runs through the door, and operates the gate latch.  See photos below.
    bookcase door for cottage
  10. Address Marker – Made by my Son
    I had to include this one since it was hand made by my son when he was 9.  A box with 117 nails, a piece of driftwood, and a hammer and my son created a one of a kind marker!  The rust and discoloration is expected and adds to the charm of the piece.
    sign with brads
  11. Lake Erie Sign – Made by my Wife
    Need a cool sign for your cottage on Lake Erie?  Rather than the standard “Go Jump in the Lake” sign that everyone seems to be using nowadays, come up with your own cool item. My creative wife came up with this great item to adorn the porch/deck area with. The colors are great and really suit the space.  There will be a nice red star to show where you are along the lake (it was drying when the photo was taken).  One added feature of this sign is that we used the original clapboard sheathing that we removed when adding a window in the living room.
    lake erie sign
  12. Driftwood Mirror
    This was a real family project and really capped off the bathroom renovation.  We made a simple frame to fit an existing mirror out of weathered cedar.  The weathered wood had a color that would give a nice backing to the driftwood.  From there my wife collected the driftwood and bleached it (just to be safe).  It was given plenty of time to dry and then she worked on placement of the wood. There are a number of special little pieces of driftwood in here and my son can describe them all. There are initials for our last name, a ‘shark’, a ‘dinosaur’, etc.  We had fun with it.  Once my wife and son had the ideal placement, I cam along with the brad nailer to fasten things in place.   A real cool, one of a kind item.
    driftwood mirror

There are many future plans for our cute little cottage.  Inevitably, they will be detailed here.  A few of the plans on the board are:

  1. Lake Stone Patio
    This is a patio made from stones brought up from the beach.  When you have large, and flat, stones like this one (below), you must make a patio from them.
    Lake Erie stones
  2. Chimney Removal
  3. Pergola above the garage door
  4. Laundry Room
  5. Garage conversion to game/room
  6. Attic converted into loft bedroom








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