Andrea and the lake house

Posted on Mon, 25 Aug 2008 by KiM

Andrea wrote us the other day looking for some advice, and instead of us emailing her back I figured this might be a fun one for our readers to help with as well.

“My partner is buying a lake house. There is a lot of room for improvement and I’m very excited about making my ideas come through. But there will be very little cash after the closing, so we might be doing some of it ourselves.

The house is very dark because of ceilings and walls are covered with dark stained pecky cypress. So I thought about either sanding it back to the natural color or white wash them. I know to white wash I’ll have to take the finish off, which might be very tiring. I think sanding is going to be very painful, even with an electric sanding machine. I heard of corn cob blasting, but I don’t know if that can be used for interiors. We plan to rip out the carpets, redo the floors, take off the wall paper, etc.

But what makes me sad is the kitchen. Although the sellers put good money on it having top appliances, new cabinets and countertop, the colors feel horrible to me. We cannot have new counter tops at the moment and I’m just unsure on how I’m going to neutralize the horrible corian bluish green countertops. I thought at first, about staining the cabinets in red and placing a backsplash with little mosaic glass tiles in white and light aqua blue. Then I thought it would be better do reverse for white cabinets and red mosaic glass tiles.

What I’m going for is a overall natural look with lots of wood, but on the lighter side. I hate darkness give by dark browns and red browns. It makes me feel sick. I was hoping you would have some suggestions about these issues. These pics were taken by me. The house is in Ringwood, NJ.”

Andrea, the house is AMAZING!!! It has a ton of potential. I am very excited to hear you are getting rid of the carpets (YUCK). I have a couple of suggestions for you, and hopefully our readers will have a few as well for you to mull over.

I LOVE painting wood white when the colour/effect isn’t so hot as it is. This lake house would look like a DREAM, IMHO, if all the walls were painted white and whatever wood flooring you chose was painted white as well (white-washing would be great too but would be ALOOOOOOT of work). It would add so much more of a modern feel to the existing rustic look. I’d leave all the beams and railing as is. I think the stone fireplace would look great against white. As for the kitchen, I would paint out the cabinets white. To me red works on glossy flat-faced cabinets for an ultra-modern feel. I don’t think red would suit the existing style of the doors. If there is any way you could remove the trim along the tops of the cabinets, because they are huge and break up the space alot, or replace them with something smaller. Also, the trim over the windows could go too. If you must keep the existing countertop (perhaps you could look into a laminate or butcherblock though, might be affordable), then I would select a tile that has that colour in it – like a mosaic of blues/greens, so the countertop makes a bit of sense and blends in. The appliances are incredible – you are so lucky to get to save money there.

That’s enough rambling for me. Andrea, I hope you and your partner have fun with it and if anyone has some suggestions, comments are always welcome.

Anonymous says:

One of my favorite rooms is Carolina Irving’s guest bedroom. It was featured in the July/August/or September 2007 Domino. I’m traveling at the moment and don’t have my magazines, so I can’t credit it that well! The walls are beadboard or wood planks covered in black oil gloss paint with white-painted hardwood floors, ceiling, and trim. She used colorful imported fabrics on the bed, chair, and loveseat along with blue and white striped rugs to spice it up. I adore this room! It definitely makes country stylish and current. If this cabin were mine, I would definitely be painting the walls black and most other surfaces (cabinets, beams, moldings, floors, ceiling) white. I think the countertops might work well with a black and white colorscheme. And I agree with taking down the molding in the kitchen. It’s too old-lady country for me.

Anonymous says:

I know this won’t be posted, but – oh the hardships of dealing with corian countertops and cypress cabinetry in your lake house…

Rae says:

My in-laws have a book called “Cabins: The New Style” by James Grayson Truelove that I find really inspiring! Great photos of lake houses and vacation retreats in every style from rustic to modern. You might find some ideas there….

kim. says:

Anon who commented at 2:16, yes it’s a LAKE HOUSE with CYPRESS cabinetry, but some of the features are pretty terrible (the carpet, the granny/country accents to the cabinets) and I’d find it a serious hardship to have to look at that on a daily basis. IMHO.

Gina says:

What I would suggest is: leave the cabinets as they are and try to get some lights, i. e. white or as it is at the lake real light green to the walls.Light Green brings more light into a room than white. Leave the floors as they are. Philippe Starck also has dark floors and it looks great. And you don’t see the dirt, earth, sand etc. from the lake right away.
For the walls I would suggest buy some rolls of wallpaper and fix them with tape, just to see if you like it better in a light colour. If yes, remove the wood and wallpaper the walls.
Do it slowly so that you can get used to the new look.
For the molding in the kitchen I would take a light stone like granite or maybe aluminum.
Gina from Germany

Anonymous says:

Firstly, I’d just like to say how much I love your blog! I check everyday to see what’s new…..I think the house would take on a whole new personality if you painted it white, and to save the pain of sanding, there is a product here in Australia called Zinnzer 1-2-3 which enables you to paint straight over finishes and the finish won’t show through. I had horrible varnished tongue and groove ceilings that were so dark, but I used this product then painted them white and it made the world of difference. And on the kitchen benchtops, whilst they are quite ugly, you might find if you paint the cabinetry white and do a blue splashback of some kind, it will make a world of difference and you might find that you don’t hate the benchtops as much. Otherwise, the house ROCKS. It is gorgeous, it’s just a bit overdone on the wood look! Good luck!

arline says:

I TOTALLY agree with painting that wood white.

I would do it first thing.

I also agree on your other suggestions.

veronica says:

Love your house,

there is an amazing kitchen posted in the monday, august 18th, 2008 entry of
and also

everything is painted white, as suggested here, but also you could open the kitchen feel by either putting glass front doors on the all upper cabinets or even eliminate some cabinets and putting up open shelves. that may really lighten up the feel of the heavy upper cabinets, which i think feel too heavy and cabinetty for this room and cheapens the overall look. also lighting is essential. uplighting above the cabinets and below onto the counters will bring light as well. even a reflective type backsplash, stainless? i think if you add glass doors and paint the cabinets, the upper molding may take on an elegance.there are some glass door cabinets but they also feel cramped too. I like in the above image how the glass cabinets have a side glass to let in more light. either light the inside or add that feature. definitely remove the cornices above the sink and windows. that really makes it feel closed in. The eye is confused when viewing the kitchen, the refrigerator competes with the cabinets, but love the appliances!! white would neutralize the effect very well. task lighting and uplighting will improve the visual flow. not sure if i like the task light above the stove, but that may improve with the white paint/

love the house cant wait to see your transformations.


Andrea says:

Hello All!
Thank you so much for your feedback!
I’m really glad to have your ideas to think about.
This is a great time for me and I’m very excited to start working on the house. I’ll be posting the progress here for sure. Nothing should happen until october, when we get the keys. Until then I’m doing lot’s of research.

For the ones to live in NY or have a chance to come to the city, the Strand Bookstore has all kinds of books and amazing discount prices. Yesterday I got unbelievable prices on House Beautiful books, some were about $3.95 hard cover!!!
828 Broadway
(at 12th St.)
New York, NY 10003-4805
212.473.2591 fax
I hope you have a chance to check it out.

Thanks for the support!!!

Nessje says:

What an amazing space – you’ll get so much reward from your work, i am sure.

I’d go with the consensus – white in the living room. I recently used one of the ammonia-based strippers to remove stain from panelling then applied an oil based pigmented sealer. Wear a mask and gloves for both! This gave me a great surface to paint with no sanding. I’d recommend white with a slight ochre tint in the living room so it’s light but also warm. The natural log beams I’d be tempted to leave in wood colour (imagine that staircase railing against white!), maybe stripped and waxed, try for a Scandinavian vibe.

I’m with Kim on the kitchen mouldings, the above the window frills definitely have to go. I’d paint the cupboards white too (a green tint of white is a good idea, Gina). In fact, I’d paint the kitchen walls white too, and have tile splashbacks, using hand-glazed tiles in off-white variations. The room will be less oppressive without all the wood, the blue/white combination could be built on for a cottagey feel, with splashes of fresh green with pots of herbs and maybe some gingham 😉 . White is a good basis to add colour to later, once you’ve spent more time in the space and seen how the light falls in the room through the seasons.

If the bench is too too hideous you could glue sheets of stainless steel over it or tile over it (neither of which would give you as good a work surface). Good luck!

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