The Little Lake House That Could

A fresh, airy place with easygoing style is just what the owners of this cottage were after. Located on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut—a legendary destination for swimming, boating and fishing—the guest house is next door to the family’s main vacation home.

Built in 1945, the little house has gone through several updates but the goal this time around was to refresh the dark colors, which can make a small space look smaller, and play up the high ceilings.

Lake house living room

“One of the key things we did was lighten it up with brighter colors,” says the homeowner. “And that allows you to focus on the view. This cottage really stands out among its peers now.”

Sara Touijer, who redesigned the family’s main lake house and their permanent residence, was tasked with delivering laid-back living in the two- bedroom cottage with deck.

“We wanted it to be low-maintenance for us and low-maintenance for our guests,” says the owner. The absence of tall staircases and the presence of a crib and Pack ‘n Play are welcome signs for visitors with children.

lake house dining room

“I can’t say enough how great Sara is to work with. It’s fun to think things through with her, and it shows in the design,” the owner adds. “The transformation was fairly simple and required only a fresh coat of paint and updated furnishings,” says Touijer. “We took it from muted primary colors to fresh, creamy whites to completely change the look and feel of the house.”

“The main challenge was to furnish it in a budget-friendly way,” she adds, since the couple was making a significant investment in redoing both lakeside properties.

“Most of the furnishings were from West Elm, CB2, IKEA and Overstock. The artwork in the dining room was one of those ‘hit or miss’ finds at Home Goods. I was so excited when I found the prints. I had to fight off another person for them,” she adds. (Her Home Goods store of choice? The Port Chester, New York location.) She hung her daughter’s bright framed art in a bedroom.

lake house light airy bedroom

“Pops of color, a pillow or throw or art, add interest to the space. But my favorite part has to be the pine-plank ceiling. It makes a statement and adds warmth in an unexpected place,” she notes.

The original stone hearth offers a working fireplace and the wagon wheel over the hearth is from an estate sale. The time-worn dining table with slab design is paired with mid-century style Eiffel chair knockoffs from Overstock.

lake house dining room

“We loved the look of the designer chairs but didn’t want to worry about breakage or damage. So we went with the next best thing, for half the cost,” says the designer.

The streamlined built-in kitchen cabinetry mainly holds overflow of glassware and dishes in case of breakage.

“The ceramic flooring is super functional. It’s durable and easy to clean—always important when guests visit,” adds Touijer.

She chose the CB2 sofa (sized so visitors can stretch out and relax) in a neutral, durable polyester fabric, since it would get a lot of use.

The window shades in both bedrooms are inside- mounted and somewhat hidden. “The crisp, clean look keeps the outside views unobstructed while giving privacy at night,” notes Touijer.

But then again, it might be best to leave the shades up, to catch a star shower at night.

Check out Sara Touijer’s top Rustic Design picks, as featured in the ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME Spring 2019 issue. 

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