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  • Dana Tutela

Lake House Remodel Part 1

Updated: 4 days ago

white house with orange door

Renovating the lake house that we purchased in 2019 was a challenge during the pandemic and subsequent supply chain issues, but it was also one of the most satisfying projects we've ever completed. We took a well loved house from the early 90’s and turned it into one that flows with a mid-century vibe and maintains a modern lifestyle. I listened to the previous owners tell me at closing how they created a home filled with wonderful memories with their kids and grandkids. My husband and I were so excited to write our own chapter for this house and build our own memories on Lake Hartwell.

brown stained house

Please keep in mind that I may receive commissions at no expense to you when you click my links and make purchases. However, this does not impact my reviews and opinions. I only endorse products or services that I believe are worthy of such an endorsement. Link to full privacy disclosure here.

Lake House Remodel Exterior Changes

The first step we took in the lake house makeover was a fresh new coat of paint. Stained brown and being surrounded by woods, the house kinda disappeared. We chose to brighten it up with Sherwin Williams Alabaster for the siding and Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze for the trim. We also changed out the front door with blurred oval glass to one with three equal clear glass lights. Our silly dogs love to look out the bottom pane to see who is coming down the driveway.

The front door is Sherwin Williams Copper Wire for two reasons: 1-we are Virginia fans (but everyone here thinks it’s for Clemson) and 2-when it rains, three dogs with orange muddy paws are all over that door to get in. The salesman at Sherwin Williams laughed when I brought in a paint stick with orange mud on the end and said, "Match this!"

Meanwhile the white exterior stain really brightened up the screen porch as well. We love being nestled in the woods, but the spiders are everywhere. Don't get me wrong; I love spiders especially when they're catching other bugs. I just want to know where they are when I'm sitting outside on the porch relaxing. Brown spiders on brown stain on a shadowy porch was a freak out just waiting to happen! Now we can all get along fine!

By the way, that's not our dog. That's our neighbor's sweet husky, Apollo. He supervised the entire project!

white screen porch with black trim

Living on the saltwater creek in Charleston destroyed most of our patio furniture over the years. Oiling teak tables and chairs is not fun! And even though the lake is more forgiving, I still chose metal and faux wicker furniture to withstand the elements better.

I absolutely love the aluminum dining set we chose. The metal cleans up so easily and it expands with a flip of the center section!

The outdoor rug is also weather resistant and has survived two houses now with a little pressure washing and drying out in the sun. I will do anything to make my life easier in the cleaning department! After all we moved to the lake to relax, right?

Lake House Remodel Interior Changes

Originally we wanted to leave the wood paneling a natural wood tone inside the house, but when the previous owners moved out, there were outlines of clocks and picture frames on the faded wood panels. We ended up painting the wood paneling and the window/door trim SW Alabaster (yes-it’s my favorite white). We left the doors and actual window frames their warm wood stain color. We also removed the popcorn ceiling and painted it white, but left the natural wood beams as they were.

And yes, Apollo came back to check on everything!

One of our biggest challenges was the stone fireplace. When we first purchased the property, we envisioned a lake house with bright fun colors and funky furniture for our vacation home. This earthy stone fireplace did not jive with that plan at all. It was all brown colors and massive! I spent hours and hours researching ways to paint the stone, to acid wash it, to remove it completely, etc. There was no reasonable solution. The only option was to embrace it and change the rest of the plan, and I am so glad we did!

After removing the bulky antique brass fireplace insert and replacing it with a new slim black screen and andirons set, the fireplace didn’t appear quite as massive. Also, painting the paneling white provided a better backdrop for the stone in the fireplace. Instead of brown stones blending in with brown walls, the lighter streaks in the stone started to shine and the browns became more caramel and taupe. They were beautiful! I love our fireplace now, especially at Christmas, I can't wait to write that blog post!

Changing our color scheme from fun and bright to neutral and organic was key to making this house work for us. I have a friend who remodeled a house on the beach and literally sat on the beach with her fan deck to pick colors for each room. She matched the ocean, the sand, the sky and the sea oats. Her house was beautiful! The colors coordinated with the surroundings in a natural way that felt so harmonious. I loved it!

I did the same thing for the lake house. I found the various colors of the tree leaves outside, the caramel in the stone, the warmth of the clay, and the dark blue of the lake. It worked! Our house flows inside and out with the surrounding woods and lake views.

living room with stone fireplace and white paneling

Initially our budget did not include new flooring, but we ran into some issues when renovating the kitchen. The weight of the new countertops and appliances and a very concerning squeak near the refrigerator prompted us to remove the vinyl flooring. Thank goodness we did because we found a floor joist that was compromised. After repairing the floor joist, we installed pre-finished wood floors. Even though this was unexpected, I am so glad we replaced the floors. The tile at the front door and around the fireplace hearth had some cracks and loose pieces that we didn’t know how to repair. New floors solved those problems, as well. We ended up replacing almost the entire main floor of the house with the hardwood flooring. In the bathrooms, laundry room and adjoining hallway we installed tile. Downstairs we used vinyl laminate plank flooring because we were concerned about moisture issues. Thankfully we have not had any, but the flooring still works great for that space. More on the bathrooms and basement later!

Great room with white paneling and wood beams

If there’s anything we learned from remodeling our lake house, it is to be flexible and patient. We had so many curveballs during the process and still managed to end up with a home instead of a vacation property. During the pandemic we barely finished renovating before everything shut down. Thankfully we were able to move in and work remotely from our property. Eventually we chose to live here full time and put our roots down permanently!

3 bathrooms remodeled before and after

For even more, read about our kitchen remodel here:

navy blue kitchen with stainless appliances before and after

Please keep in mind that I may receive commissions at no expense to you when you click my links and make purchases. However, this does not impact my reviews and opinions. I only endorse products or services that I believe are worthy of such an endorsement.

Link to full privacy disclosure here.

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