Sneak Peek: Project New Hampshire Lake Camp


I thought I would share a little sneak peek of a short-turnaround project I’ve been working on recently.

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am passionately devoted to my beautiful state of New Hampshire, and that I’m particularly attached to our gorgeous, crystal clear lakes. So imagine my excitement when I was called in to turn around a 1950s camp on one of the very most lovely lakes of all!


Project NH Lake Camp

The new owners closed in late August, and I first saw the cottage September. The owners — the wife of whom had spent all her summers growing up on this lake — intend to live in the cottage during the summer and rent it out during ski season.

While their desire is to make it comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, they want to do as little renovating as possible. They may retire here in 10 years or so, but if they do, they may want to build fresh. Therefore, they want to maintain the current envelope and basically put a “decorative band aid” on it — spending money on the things that will experience the most wear and tear (namely, the upholstery) and doing only those other decorative things that will create the atmosphere they crave.


Here are some before pictures from the real estate listing.

Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


While there is a lot of knotty pine throughout, most of it has been painted and repainted. The galley kitchen below is a little strange, with new cabinetry and a peninsula (in the below picture, you’re looking straight at it) being added at some point in recent memory.


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


Definitely some weird overhead lighting going on — double/triple pendants over the counters, the proverbial “boob light” flush mounts here and there.


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


The TV is awkwardly placed next to the kitchen and pretty far from the main seating area. The giant fireplace jutting out into the room is hogging up valuable floor space real estate.


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


The real estate photos stretch the images. The bedrooms are only about 9′ deep.


My clients hope to have the cottage ready for ski season — late December — so we’re going to do our best to source in-stock items (or items with an October/November stock date), both from trade and retail sources.


The Work Beforehand: Because Designers Aren’t Mind Readers 🙂

When I work with clients, I ask for a lot of information up front.  Clients fill out a questionnaire as to their design needs, family living habits, and color and pattern likes/dislikes, and create Pinterest boards with inspiration images with commentary as to what they respond to in each image. It may seem like a lot of work, but it saves me time — and therefore the clients’ money — in creating their design schemes.

Everything would have to be pretty durable and not too precious, knowing that renters would live out winters in the space. The wife’s favorite color is Robin’s Egg Blue. She wanted a design with various shades of blue, white, and neutrals in solids and classic, simple patterns like stripes.

We definitely don’t like ‘over decorated, matchy matchy’ styles. We’d like a clean, beach-y look on the simple side.”


She did a great job collecting inspiration images for me. A few below.

Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp
via A Beach Cottage


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp
via Tracey Rapisardi Style


The client had a lot of white sofas in her inspo shots, but she really didn’t want one for her own cottage because of the rental factor.


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp
via Home Bunch


My additional feeling is that the cottage is on a New Hampshire lake after all and not the beach! I suggested adding in a light-handed dose of updated plaids & pine trees.


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp
Deconstructed aqua plaid on wool and a hand block-print look-alike in teal and white cotton.


I believe that paint — a clean white over all the walls and upper cabinets and darker green-blue lower cabinets — will make a HUGE difference in the feel of this space. I also think cleaning up the ceiling fixture plan will go a long way to remove all the visual clutter.


Mood board below. This look is approved, barring a few tweaks.


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


The Challenges

1. The Layout: I recommended removing the fireplace, and the clients agreed. They didn’t want renters using it anyway, and they wouldn’t need it in the summer. Moreover, it wasn’t original to the house. Removing the fireplace left us with a little bump-out. My job is to give that architectural bump-out a reason.

Beyond the fireplace, no changes to the footprint of the house layout would be changed — including the odd kitchen configuration and laminate counters, and the crazy narrow bedrooms.

I presented the clients with 3 potential floor plans for the main living space. They chose this one.

Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp

As a decorator, I can see a space in my head long before it ever exists, but most people can’t. I find that — beyond doing mood boards and presenting colors and fabrics and finishes — rendering a space in 3D can make that leap of faith to follow through with a design plan less terrifying.


Please note that the pieces of furniture pictured below are, for the most part, representational only.

Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


Project Sneak Peek: Project Home Glow NH Lake Camp


2. The Timeframe: 3 months from start to finish. While the clients know that completion dates cannot be guaranteed, I’d love to help them make their timeline.

We’ve chosen mostly things that are in stock or retail, but some are backordered for a month, and some items are new Fall 2018 introductions and not available until November!

However, we will be ordering custom, made-in-America upholstery (which I nearly always recommend, because the quality you get far surpasses Big Box for a very small difference in price) — a large sectional and two skirted swivel chairs. Lead times for upholstery usually run 6-10 weeks, but the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush are on. Orders have been submitted, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they come in on time.


Hopefully I’ll have great news and good pics for you in a couple months’ time!


Love the outdoors in the fall, and all the decor that goes along with it? You may enjoy these posts:

The Freshest Color Palette

Alternative to Painting Knotty Pine

Performance Pendleton


Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to explore! In the next few months, I should have a couple more before-and-afters ready for you and my own Kitchen/Master Bed/Bath renovations are FINALLY in the planning stages — the latter of which may become a monthly column in one of my favorite home magazines. (!!)

I’d love to hear from you! See you next week.





8 thoughts on “Sneak Peek: Project New Hampshire Lake Camp”

  1. This post and the suggested additional posts has this retiree dreaming of cottages and blue water and . . .

    1. Wow – looks beautiful, Amy! I am already fantasizing about renting this home out for a relaxing ski getaway. Can’t wait to see the final product!

  2. Amy,
    This is a beautiful plan for the lake house! Are you able to share where the beach artwork is from?

  3. What a great project! I always like to see how a decorator works with things rather than making major floorplan changes, so this was very interesting to me. I’m looking forward to seeing future installments on this (and your own!) home in the months to come 🙂

    1. Thanks, Julie! Well, with my own home, you’re definitely going to be seeing some working with things as they are, or doing some decorative band-aid work. I’m thinking of calling that particular series, “Renovating a Remuddle on a Real Person’s Budget.” No miracles promised, but hopefully big improvements nonetheless!

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