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Lake House Renovation Plans: Phases ONE, TWO and THREE

The Lake House Look:

It’s so exciting to take on another whole-home makeover, especially one where I can get a little crazy!  With the townhouse, I had to make design decisions that worked with the existing elements, the overall feel of the house, its conservative facade, and some imaginary buyer’s taste.  I tried to pick modern/traditional upgrades that would appeal to a broad range of buyers and not look out of place.  The lake house, however, is a more permanent spot for us and I see it as a blank canvas – I don’t have to live with anything I don’t like.  Well, at least not forever.  Although it is going to take some time (likely years), eventually I am going to transform the dated space into a stream-lined, casual, mid-century inspired retreat where I plan on becoming the craftiest recluse ever.  I’m going to be living a beach life, so I want to simplify.  Less stuff to dust, less stuff to store, fewer tchotchkes.  I want simple, open, airy spaces with my trademark shots of colour but even more statement-making details.  I’m going bolder, but cleaner.  Even my palette is getting a makeover: oranges and yellows will be limited, in favor of soothing greys, creamy whites, but a stronger injection of bright colour, limited to blues and aquas.

Emily Henderson; Houzz; Apartment Therapy; Desire to Inspire

The Lake House Plan:

I’m going to do a Money Talks post soon about mortgages and talk a bit more about how we’re balancing everything, but suffice to say expensive renovations just aren’t on the books right now.  Even if we did have the funds, I want to live in the house for awhile and really figure out what I want from the bathrooms (two sinks? one sink? bigger window? makeup vanity?), kitchen (open shelving? glass front cupboards? white, grey, wood?) and living area.  But I can’t live with oak trim and cupboards!  So Hubs and I are devising a three-part plan.

PHASE ONE: Inexpensive Cosmetic Fixes

Phase One will be fun!  I have a crazy kitchen update planned, fun ideas for sprucing up the bathrooms (and drawing your eyes away from the portal), and a bevy of affordable fixes for modernizing the space.  We’ll be doing a bolder version of our patented “spit and polish” to spruce up the space on a dime.  We just want it livable and lovely, so we can save for bigger updates.  I’ll share room-by-room plans in July, but here’s a taste of what I’m currently thinking for our oak-overload kitchen: turquoise lower cupboards (!) and light countertops paired with open shelving.  Imagine my Pyrex collection out in the open!  I’m going to pare back our plates and bowls so we just have what we need – no excess.

Via Dustjacket

The Decorating Files

I’m also excited to do things I wanted to, but couldn’t do, in the townhouse, like paint a ceiling turquoise!


PHASE TWO: Investing in Classics

Phase Two will complement phase one but will also involve furniture and moveables.  I always love a mix of high & low, so Phase Two will see Hubby and I continuing this mix and match.  But now that we’re putting down roots and decorating a “forever” home, I want to make careful decisions and invest in some pieces I know we’ll love (and that will stand the test of time).  So . . . although we’re going to immediately replace a boatload of boob fixtures with something like this inexpensive Ikea fixture:

Ikea Vanadin Light – lovely glass flush mount fixture, for only $24.99!

I plan on also investing in a gorgeous, timeless, George Nelson bubble lamp for the dining room.  Actually, I’m loving the look of a trio, and might even choose two smaller bubble lamps as pendants over the kitchen peninsula/bar (where dated pot lights are barely hanging on).

Photos from Modern Conscience, also available from Modernica

But to balance the high/low scale again, for the guest house DIYing something like this dipped drum shade might be a blast!  I’m still pleased with how my DIY dyed dress turned out and I’m itching to dip something (now that the trend is almost totally overdone, I’m ready!).

Fiona Bleu Gallery

To help our pocketbooks, expect many more DIY furniture makeovers and things we’ll build from scratch (like this desk!).  I’m currently going crazy pinning furniture I love to get inspiration
for some handmade pieces.  This sideboard had me at welded legs.

Vintage Sideboard – love the metal legs!

Saving cash in some areas will help us splash out on a few beautiful pieces.  Right now, I’m eyeing these bar stools.  Can’t stop thinking about them.  The grey will look amazing with my kitchen plans (now and future),
although the creamy white is such a classic too.  Their easy-to-clean
surface makes them perfect for my new low-key living.  An investment to be sure, but if we save up and spend wisely on a few
things that will last us forever, we’ll be far better off than finding
cheap substitute after cheap substitute. 

Fiberglass Shell Barstools from Modernica, originally designed by Charles Eames

PHASE THREE: Major Renovations

In this phase, we’ll totally re-do the kitchen, main bathroom, guest powder room, guesthouse, and guesthouse bathroom with a total gut job.  Shiny new everything, installed by us to save cash.  We’ll need to save major bucks and Phase Three will take years, but hopefully we’ll tackle the main bath in a year or so, the guest house bathroom and half bath next and the kitchen after.  If we save, space them out and pounce on good deals, it can be doable.  I think.  We’ll see.  I’m going to make Phase One awfully pretty, just in case Phase Three is further in the future than I think!!

One day, we’ll have a stream-lined kitchen with cupboards that make use of the vertical space (our kitchen has a tinier footprint than what we have now!) and have a simple profile.  The one below combines a pale aqua, mix of closed and open storage plus a turquoise kettle that makes me weak in the knees and panting with envy, with the stainless steel appliances and WOOD that Hubby prefers.  Add a white herringbone tile backsplash and I’d say this kitchen was meant for us.

Apartment Therapy

 But this grey kitchen is pretty dreamy too.  A neutral space that can evolve as our tastes do.

Incorporated NY

PHASE FOUR: Buy a Papa Bear Chair, Upholster it Turquoise


Haha.  Just kidding.  Phase Four requires a lottery win (or some excellent thrifting mojo), but if it happens I’ll buy you one too, Dana.



  1. Nataliya
    June 28, 2013 / 2:49 pm

    I'm dying to replace boob lights in our new condo with those flush mounts from Ikea! Love their tradition/classic look :)Sounds like an awesome plan. Makes me want to buy a cottage 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:55 am

      I'm obsessed with the Ikea lights because they don't look inexpensive, even though they are. The faceted glass looks like icebergs to me, which I figure is fun for a lakeside place (seeing as that particular lake is somewhere where winter linger a long time).

  2. Tina
    June 28, 2013 / 2:51 pm

    I absolutely love the lighting fixtures that you've pictured! Stunning!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:56 am

      I love lighting! Changing the lights and painting the walls were the first two changes we made with the townhouse, so that's on my list of priorities now, too.

  3. Anonymous
    June 28, 2013 / 3:10 pm

    It will be so interesting to see your transform the Lake House…congrats on the new house! I live in Ottawa too! It's great to see a blogger from our city!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:56 am

      Hello fellow Ottawa-er (?). Sadly, I'm in the process of selling my Ottawa-based home, so I won't be a resident too much longer. But I've loved the city and am sad to say good-bye.

  4. Amy
    June 28, 2013 / 3:44 pm

    Love it. So happy for you!! 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:57 am

      Thanks Amy!

  5. CaseyinTO
    June 28, 2013 / 5:14 pm

    I saw one of those papa bear chairs at marshalls this week. it was grey. no idea on the price tag tho! haha I just thought it was a odd looking chair

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:57 am

      Seriously? Sweet! Vintage ones can be over $10,000. Apparently, this is the kind of chair that once you sit in it, you never want to get up again.

  6. Dana@Mid2Mod
    June 28, 2013 / 7:59 pm

    I love the kitchen that's a mix of turquoise closed cabinets and wood open ones. That would be such a great compromise for you and your hubby. I also love the idea of investing in some good pieces, like the Nelson bubble lamps and the Eames bar stools in Phase 2. I agree that it really does make it easier to wait for Phase 3. The turquoise and gray are going to be so perfect for beach living.Did you see the gray Papa Bear and ottoman that Joe just had restored? It's gorgeous! But the price tag he has on it means that admiring it at the store is probably as close as I'm ever going to come to having one. The restoration cost alone was more than my whole chair budget! 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:59 am

      I did see the post about Joe's, and how it's up for sale and not in either of your homes 🙁 If I win the lottery . . .

  7. Jenn
    June 28, 2013 / 9:14 pm

    My friend bought those barstools for her kitchen and they are great! she loves them and I can attest to their comfort!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 29, 2013 / 1:58 am

      So good to know!! They look comfy!!

  8. Anonymous
    July 2, 2013 / 2:46 pm

    I saw your post about the IKEA flush mount light fixture and ran out and got it! It's perfect for our guest room – it glows nicely and the facets set off the milk-glass type finish really nicely – thanks so much for pointing me in that direction! I now want to replace the remaining dreaded boob lights with these! Ottawa will miss you for sure!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      July 3, 2013 / 3:12 pm

      I'm so happy to have helped!!

  9. cred
    July 3, 2013 / 10:02 am

    I love everything you have planned. I'm very excited for you. We are looking for our permanent home (pending job in the region) and I love dreaming about remodelling/renovating the prospective homes we're seeing. I have a mountain of work I could do here but it's far more exciting thinking about a home you plan to live in for a long time.I'm loving the turquoise chairs against dark grey walls… open shelves, shell chairs, bubble pendants and the papa bear chair. It all speaks to me- although, most of it is saying "You need to get a paying gig!"

  10. gwen
    July 21, 2014 / 1:59 pm


  11. Melody
    July 9, 2019 / 1:29 pm

    PLEASE….tell us the name of the turquoise cabinet color….brand, etc.

  12. Jesse Trent
    February 9, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    Found your site because I am installing the last of 3 of these today. The other two I did years ago, but after installing 2 ceiling fans in the past week, my wife asked me to install the final light to replace a boob light. I guess they don’t make these anymore, and I have to agree with your dad; GOOD RIDDANCE. We have an old house with 3″ electrical boxes that actually stick out of the ceiling, so I had to modify the plate on this one by drilling a hole. GOOD TIMES!

    I was curious, because I am fascinated with maps and saw that you live on Lake Superior and are 1600 km away from Ikea in Ottawa. Are you on the west side? Sorry for being nosy, just really into looking at places on a map I would never think of going to.

    • February 9, 2020 / 10:20 pm

      It’s so funny because so many people message me about those lights – lots of people want to buy them right off my ceilings since they were discontinued. The design was horrible but they really were good value for the money!

      I live in Northwestern Ontario, land of ice and snow, on the shores of Lake Superior – Canadian side. So still in the province. I sure do miss Ottawa sometimes!!

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