This past weekend I was invited up to a friend's cabin to spend the day, and it got me reminiscing about the old cottage my family used to own when I was a kid at Dog Tooth Lake, just outside of Kenora. I don't think it matters how big or small, how lakefront or landlocked a summer retreat is, the feeling of total relaxation and escape when you're there is the same.
If you're looking for a few ideas to help spruce and freshen up your own summer place, here are a few of my favorites:
So simple — changing out the cushions on your kitchen chairs, or the toss pillows on a loveseat or outdoor swing is a fast and inexpensive way to update cottage life.
If the blinds hanging on the windows are older than you are, perhaps it's time for a little face lift! I love woven or bamboo roman shades in spaces that need a little warmth and rustic texture. The cabin is no exception. Warm and honey-toned finishes add charm and coziness with the pull of a cord. Or opt for white or dark charcoal if you're looking for more of a shabby chic or contemporary touch.
A coat of paint may be all it takes to get older cabinets looking fresh and modernized. A mossy taupe, or silvery grey paired with light or cream coloured counter will look quaint and elegant, while those wanting something more dramatic can go darker. Paint with a deep velvety brown or soft black, then gently sand your edges so the original cabinet finish (which should be lighter than your paint colour) peeks through. The end result will be hand-distressed millwork!
I've been in cabins and cottages with both contemporary and traditional/vintage schemes alike, and really, there isn't a right or wrong style when it comes to summer living. For those who like the charm of older pieces, but are tired of their current finish, haul them outside for a facelift. Give wooden chairs or tables a light screening with a fine grit sandpaper, then lightly wipe off. A can of spray paint or roller dipped in white-wash will instantly transform your pieces from drab to fab in minutes!
Again, another item that can add some cheery or dramatic polish to your spaces ... area rugs and door mats are great pieces to switch out as the years go by. For those whose tastes lie more to the natural and organic side of design, pick up a sisal or jute rug with a cotton or chenille border in one of your favorite accent colours. Those needing some pop can find hand knotted or wool mats with various patterns and colour combinations for some extra pick me up on worn hardwood or faded carpeted floors.
Quilts & Throws
On rainy days there's nothing quite like hunkering down in a comfy chair with a hot drink, good book, and favorite blanket. A multi-textured quilt or coverlet looks soft and inviting folded over the back of a sofa or set on the arm of a side chair. And in bedrooms or sleeping nooks, the contrast of white linens and pillows with a brightly coloured quilt or blanket is just enough to finish off the space for those that prefer calmer, paler colour schemes at the lake.
Think outside the box on this one if you're in the market for new art or wall decor. I love seeing vintage rowing oars, an old life ring, weathered driftwood, or glass lanterns mounted over doorways, on an open span of wall, or nestled on a shelf somewhere. A collection of shells grouped together in a series of shadow boxes, or a mix of vintage black and white photographs of beach days gone by are clever ways to bring the essence of lake living into your spaces!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 23, 2012