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  • Writer's pictureMichelle


Growing up, my family was fortunate enough to spend time in the summer months at a small, but beautiful lake at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains. My grandparents owned a restaurant and campground there, on Lake Bonaparte, and eventually my parents bought a small place at “the lake” as we called it. Whenever they had the opportunity, my parents would pack the family up in our conversion van, and we would head to the lake for the weekend. As kids, we never ran out of things to do at the lake, and my siblings and I share some of our greatest memories there. During the daytime we went boating, water tubing, jet skiing, four wheeling, and even learned how quickly a paddle boat will sink if you load it with too many people on a choppy day (sorry parents). At night we caught fireflies, twirled sparklers in the night sky, and created lasting memories around a campfire. We had some truly amazing times, and even learned a few things along the way like how to chop and stack firewood, and how to make some of the recipe's at Ziggy’s (our grandparents' restaurant).

As an adult, I think back on these times at the lake fondly, and have dreamed of having a cottage of our own for several years since my parents no longer have their place. I think part of me never actually believed it would happen, so when we purchased our cottage on Lake Ontario earlier this year, I was beyond excited, thrilled, shocked, and maybe even a little scared. If you have been following along here on Dreaming Home, you know that after purchasing the cottage, our initial excitement was followed by surprise as we found several issues with plumbing, heating, etc. that had to be fixed.

This has been several months in the making, and I am now happy to report that we have officially kicked off our first summer at the cottage and are busy making memories of our own with family and friends. Somewhere between the drywall dust, cleaning without any water for weeks, and taking the cottage back from the variety of critters who inhabited it for over 5 years, I even found some time to decorate. With the main living area a construction site for much longer than planned, I just needed something to feel put together. Occasionally, I would seek refuge in the master bedroom and work on that space with the door closed to feel some calm in the middle of the storm. Well, that progress paid off, and I am finally ready and so excited to share the space with you! Let’s get started with a few before shots. Apologies for the truly terrible image quality.

To start, I had a decent-sized room with nice natural light that was really a blank slate. A friend gave me some good advice and suggested that I do something completely different from our bedroom at home. I took that advice and decided I wanted a subtle cottage vibe anchored (pun intended) in a mix of styles that I naturally gravitate towards (including mid-century modern). When I say a “subtle cottage vibe”, I was thinking a bright, airy space that subtly draws inspiration from nature (i.e., blues and greens along with natural elements like baskets and wood tones). And of course, everything had to be affordable so I knew from the beginning I would be buying some new items and mixing those in with thrifted items and items "handed down" from our house that we no longer needed.

My first task was to add character with some sort of accent wall. I went back and forth between a painted wall and a textured wall, but ultimately decided I wanted to keep the room nice and bright. We painted the walls white (Simply White by Benjamin Moore) and added 8” shiplap planks to create an accent wall. The planks add visual interest, and are a nice fit with the cottage vibe I wanted to create.

Once the accent wall was in place, it made selecting a bed pretty easy – because I needed something affordable, and I wanted a color with nice contrast against the white wall. I settled on a gray upholstered bed from All Modern which is very budget friendly! If you are in search of a bed but cannot afford wood, check out some upholstered options! In turn, my next decision was made easier. With a white wall and gray bed, I knew I would need to add in some wood tones to warm everything up.

I found my nightstand at a thrift store – a mid-century modern record console in a former life. For just $15 and some TLC, I’m really happy with it. The top flips open so I can store items underneath, but I’ve found that a small basket on top is enough for me to stash some small items I need at night (i.e. all the chapstick I hoard just in case the apocalypse happens during the night and we need to flee). The bottom shelf has room for a few books, which is a huge plus since I read almost every night when I get in bed.

The other side of the bed is quite close to the bathroom. For my husband's nightstand, I knew we would need something smaller to avoid blocking the path to the bathroom. I was so pleased to find this green wooden stool at an antique store. It’s just the right size and adds a fun pop of color to the room.

I rounded out the furniture with this mid-century modern dresser I found at an antique store (for a great price), and a chair from home (which is actually an outdoor chair).

In terms of lighting, the room has a ceiling fan/overhead light combo which we eventually hope to swap out with something new. To that I added a floor lamp from home behind the chair, and a set of sconces for over the bed. These were affordable ($99 for both), and they are plug in sconces, so we saved time/money by not having to wire them in. Beyond just the look of the sconces, I love them because you can adjust the arm and the brightness on each lamp.

For the accessories, I kept things pretty simple since I wanted to maintain a nice, clean feel in the room. I chose simple white bedding and paired that with a striped blue blanket, some simple striped shams, and green accent pillows.

For artwork I purchased some affordable posters and frames from Ikea and mixed those in with vintage artwork and two fish prints we had at home.

The print over the bed was made by my husband’s grandfather over 30 years ago. We found the print at the family cabin – it was getting worn and damaged due to not being framed, so we rescued it and framed it. We made a second, smaller print ourselves shortly thereafter. That was several years ago, and once we purchased the cottage we knew right away it would give the prints a proper home. I love mixing old items into a space, to avoid having everything look "too new".

The remaining accessories were mostly thrifted to save money, including many books I found at garage sales, and several baskets. In addition to a light and airy bedroom, I want the overall vibe at our cottage to feel laid back and relaxed. Part of what helps me to relax is a tidy space, yet after 7 years of marriage my husband has not gotten the memo. I’ve found that baskets are a great compromise – he can stash small things in baskets rather than putting everything away immediately, and I don’t have to look at a mess. Win, win!

Finally, I added a few plants to bring in more green and added a throw pillow and throw blanket for the chair to create a cozy spot to curl up with a book.

While the space is not 100% finished, I am really pleased with how it has turned out so far. This room, and really the cottage overall, has been fun to decorate since the style is pretty different from what we have at home. I hope you enjoyed this tour! Sources are linked below.

Until next time, cheers!

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