Decorating & Design

May 27, 2021

The Lakehouse: Let The Decorating Begin!

This is my story of designing our renovation of a century-old lakehouse in Ontario. Each month, I’ll offer a new chapter on the challenges and solutions, and a peek at our progress. You’ll be able to see the actual house come together on new episodes of our video series The Lakehouse.

It’s mid-March as I write this. A year ago almost to the day, we started the renovation of our lakehouse. We had luck on our side. Our building permit arrived within days of the cut off for residential construction, we found a great contractor willing to take on our project, and the journey began.

Just today, I said goodbye to our construction crew, watched as the tile installers packed up, counted the number of missing light fixtures that are on “permanent back order,” and stared at the long list of screwups, mostly mine!

For example, I ordered all of our closet rods and brackets myself. Fortunately, I was on-site as the first one was being installed. “Are they all this flimsy and silly-looking?” I asked our carpenter. “Not if you order closet rods. These are shower curtain rods.”

We’ve given up trying to get one basket-style drain that fits the sink in our bar area. The smallest one available is too big for the sink it’s designed to work with. After four tries, we gave up and just ground out the sink hole. Hopefully it won’t leak….

For the powder room, I ordered a beautiful solid marble console-style sink, plus the faucet shown with it. When it arrived, our contractor held the faucet spout in place. It looked bizarre. The spout is so short, there would be no room to actually put your hands under the running water. And since the faucet didn’t clear the sink edge, the water would splash everywhere.

I guess it wasn’t meant to be used. Beware of Photoshop! It’s just fake news for designers! And then there’s the saga of the lightbulbs and dimmers — everywhere. If you’re renovating, then you already know that some fixtures are dimmable and some are not, and that some bulbs are dimmable and some are not. And some dimmers won’t work with every fixture. It’s an endless game of trial and error. These are small things, though. The actual house is magnificent.

Finally, we’re at the magical stage when the shell is finished. The wood walls and floors are glowing, and it’s time for the decorating to begin!