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The Fish Room: “Before” Photos, Plans + Progress

Do you remember the “Fish Room” from my lakehouse tour?

It’s a weird little room that’s narrow and super small, with two exterior doors (why?), one window (lake view though, lol) and a sink.  The whole set up leads me to believe it was designed for gutting fish.  That sounds weird, but everyone on this bay of Lake Superior fishes, so I think it makes sense to have a special fish gutting room?  I cannot think of any other purpose for this odd little room THAT CANNOT BE ACCESSED FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.  Yep, you read that correctly.  This room is attached to my house but only accessible from the outside world.  Because of the shabbiness and the inconvenient access, this room has sat pretty much unused since we moved to the Lakehouse.  I cleaned it, but I didn’t even paint the walls – I just shoved in some paint supplies to keep them from freezing in the garage and then I managed to make this room look worse by spray painting on the floors and splashing resin around.  It was kind of handy to have a heated space I could use for messy DIY projects, but my need for that kind of room has really abated.

To help you get your bearings, this room is located behind the fireplace in our living room; it’s where we load the firewood into the firewood cubby (that part of the floor plan is genius).  The little bump out in the picture above is behind our TV, to the left of the fireplace (see more photos of our living room here):

I recently came up with the CRAZIEST idea for this room, which will help maximize the modest 1300-ish square feet of space we have.  It’s a long term plan (which we won’t have the money for until after we do the roof and siding next spring), so I have some time to figure out the specifics.

This is my rough plan:

1. Tear down the fireplace wall and re-build a more modern, efficiently designed fireplace with room to mount the TV above it and – are you ready for this? – a SECRET door to access the fish room.  Kind of like this and also like this.

2. Seal off the weird second door (on the side of the house) in the fish room and re-do the drywall for a seamless wall.

3. Move the washer and dryer out there and build a DIY dog washing station too.  I am so excited about planning a pretty laundry room!  I’m dreaming of pale turquoise cabinetry – or maybe classic white/walnut, with a statement-making tile in my favorite color.  Like this or this.

4. Add sliding doors and shelves where the laundry room curtains (hiding the washer and dryer) are right now, to create a massive, epic storage pantry stretching the length of the wall, floor to ceiling.  I’d really like to get the same glass front doors we have in the bedroom.

We don’t have a full height basement, so step four would be amazing!

We would then use the fish room as a mud room of sorts too, letting the dogs in and out there and further confining the mess, even better than my current solution.  This plan would add so much function to our home: providing another entrance, carving out a proper mudroom, adding a massive walk in pantry/storage closet, making the laundry room less visible and also larger, and creating a place to wash the pups. I love this vibe for the decor.

Plus – SECRET DOOR.  I can’t stop using caps, I’m really excited.  I’ve been pinning laundry rooms, mud rooms, fireplaces, and crazy good tile ideas.

But you won’t need to wait to see me give this room some love!  We’re actually working on it right now, giving it the patented Dans le Lakehouse spit and polish, aka the Phase One Makeover.  The kind of makeover where we use phrases like, “load bearing paint,” and “don’t we have something in the garage we can use?”  Until my laundry/mud room dreams come to fruition, I’ll be using this room as shared craft/sewing storage with my Mom.  Our sewing supplies were spread out over multiple spaces in both of our homes, so we sold some supplies at a yard sale and streamlined a little, and now the plan is to house it all in one convenient space (and that space is, conveniently for me, my fish room).

I’ll be sharing the progress we’ve made soon, but I wanted to give you a better look at the “before” first and share my long term plans because I’m bursting at the seams with excitement over them.

Okay, tour time…

This overhead fluorescent light?  Already gone!

The janky cabinets that refused to close and the even jankier sink?  Gone!  I actually contemplated keeping and painting just that one cabinet with the sink but, in the end, everything in here was just too old and damaged to salvage.



Old stained vinyl floor? Gone! Well, sort of. We’re just covering it up for now (I’ve been sharing sneak peeks on my Instagram stories!), but we’ll rip everything out when we renovate for real.

Here’s a sneak peek of the new DIY plywood floor:

There’s the one door (the one whose days are numbered):

And then, three feet away, there’s the other door (the one we’re keeping):

It’s a short tour because it’s a tiny room, but I can’t wait to share the transformation of this room with you – follow me on Instagram to catch my progress updates.



  1. Haley
    October 19, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    Can't wait to see what you do with this! I'm LOVING those floors.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 19, 2017 / 4:48 pm

      Thanks!!! I am working on it right now and I cannot believe how cute this turned out! Still have to do some plumbing and boring stuff and then decorating!

  2. Mac n' Janet
    October 19, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    Interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing how you end up doing it.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 19, 2017 / 4:49 pm

      Thanks!! I'm kind of overwhelmed about my long term plans but my cheap and cheerful makeover is already looking so good! I can't wait to share!

  3. Ariadne
    October 20, 2017 / 10:30 am

    What if you hide the door with a sleek bookcase?AriadnefromGreece!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 20, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      Honestly, I have always wondered what happens to the books when you open/close the door? It would be a room we'd be using daily…

  4. Jazmyn Strydom
    October 20, 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Tanya!!! I have a solution for you!!! Fusion. Go to my houzz page (look up Jazmyn Strydom in find a pro) and you will see a fireplace I helped designed. It's a guy locally here – Altona – who can ship to you and plan with you… super cost effective and it's spray concrete on plywood.. he has a patent!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 20, 2017 / 4:16 pm

      Oooo, that sounds so cool! Okay, I'll check it out for sure – thanks for the tip!

  5. thefolia
    October 20, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    I'm loving the ideas and the dream to be…happy renovating!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 20, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Thank you! I wish my big plans could happen sooner, but for now I'm just so happy we're making this space look prettier. It already looks like it's meant to be part of the rest of the house – and not the shed it was before, lo..

  6. SouthsideshellyP
    October 21, 2017 / 12:34 am

    I am so HAPPY that you are back and posting regularly. Your posts are so enjoyable to read and visually entertaining as well. Thank you!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 21, 2017 / 2:24 am

      Thank you for saying that!! I'm happy to be back. I thought I could blog while I worked in remote communities but it just wasn't feasible. I had so little internet access. I'm sad I had to leave my job but so thrilled to be able to blog again!

  7. Anonymous
    October 22, 2017 / 8:31 am

    My first thought was that you could knock off the fireplace wall and move it back so the living room was a few feet longer, and I'm not even sure if that is feasible, but your mud room idea is really perfect! As a fellow dog owner without a mud room/entryway, I am almost drooling 😀 So excited to see how it turns out! All the best 🙂 – T

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 22, 2017 / 5:30 pm

      The only obstacle is all the stuff under the fireplace in the basement. There's brick work down there… holding the actual fire box up I think? I wanted to move the fireplace off center and hubby said something about that being a lot to move. Probably not impossible! But I do like the idea of a bit more room – that's clever! I hadn't actually thought of pushing it back. But I do dream of a mudroom – neither house we've owned has had one. Hopefully my idea doesn't cost a million dollars. Just got a quote for adding an attached garage and it was staggering. Yikes.

  8. Anonymous
    October 23, 2017 / 6:16 pm

    The future update is something to spend that long, cold winter thinking about and planning. Look forward to seeing the mini-update.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      October 23, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      Agreed! I foresee a lot of fireplace + Pinterest in the January forecast, lol.

    • Anonymous
      October 23, 2017 / 11:51 pm


  9. Staci @ My Friend Staci
    November 13, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    Tanya! I can't believe how behind the times I am! Very very exciting to read the rest of the fish room updates and then continue watching the progress. I remember this crazy room from when you first bought the lake house 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      November 13, 2017 / 11:42 pm

      It’s such a weird little space, isn’t it? I can’t wait for those final little details to fall into place – I am so close to a finished space and it looks goooooood, lol!

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