Living Large In Small Spaces - Lake Cottage, The Rest of the Story

Welcome to the sixty-eighth post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces".

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of featuring Lake Cottage, the vacation home of Erin, author of the blog Just Grand, and her husband. Today Erin is my guest at A Joyful Cottage. I invited her to come and share the story behind her charming cottage with all of you, my wonderful readers. It's a glorious tale of a cottage rebirth. Please  join me in welcoming Erin to today's edition of Living Large in Small Spaces.


Hello, Joyful Cottage Readers!
My name is Erin and I write a blog called Just*Grand. 
It's a blog about ideas, designs, crafts, renovations, recipes 
and anything else that I think is - Just Grand!

I was thrilled when Nancy at a A Joyful Cottage 
asked me to share the story of our Little Cottage by the Lake.
I am always happy to talk about our little cottage.  
It's been a true labor of love!

Lets start at the very beginning.
I have always, always wanted a cottage by a lake.
A little cottage.  By a big lake.  Like Lake Michigan.
I wanted big sky and sunsets and sandy beaches and crystal clear water.
I wanted to be able to see weather fronts approaching.
I am awed by the wind and the clouds and the power of the lake.

We found one such cottage on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, 
only an hour and a half drive from our home.
It was a sad little cottage, shabby and much neglected-
Which was perfect for me.  
I love a good project and this one promised to be huge! 
We took a leap and have never looked back.

Ours is the second one in from the left.
These cottages were built about 80 years ago, as housekeeping cottages 
where families came to enjoy the cool breezes by the lake.

We share the lawn with the other cottages
and we play games and host parties and one family even had a wedding there.
Here's a view from across the lawn.

Our cottage actually looks charming, from a distance!

This picture below shows what truly awful condition it was in.

But the setting was great and the bones were good. 

We had to replace virtually everything, inside and out.
Here's how it looks after our renovations.
This will make your eyes feel better....

New roof, siding, windows, doors, deck, landscaping 

We had the power lines that were attached to the front of the cottage buried
and what a difference that made!

Here's how the back of the cottage looked when we bought it.

So shabby!

Here's how it looks after the renovations.

We added an outdoor shower that is just heavenly.

And last summer, we added this little railing by the back steps...

Those before pictures hurt my eyes.
Look at this instead.

That's better. 
That's why we're here!
The Lake.
Remember this, because there are more ugly Before pictures coming.

On the inside, we replaced everything too.
All new electric, plumbing, hardwood floors, drywall, molding, 
vaulted ceilings, skylights, a loft, 
a new kitchen and a new bathroom.

Here's a picture from the main living room, Before.

And that same view now...

Believe it or not, the burnt orange fireplace was salvaged by a friend of the builder!
And I do not miss it. 

Here's the front porch room, before.

And here's how it looks now.
And a link to a post I wrote about it.

This is another photo by Gridley and Graves. 
They made it look so dreamy.

Let's look at the kitchen.
Warning- Not pretty.

The hot water heater was taking up precious space in the kitchen.
We moved it to the attic. 
And saved that one cute little window.
My husband spent an entire weekend stripping and refinishing it 
and then decided we needed all new windows.

I was able to find someone who wanted to salvage the old windows.  
They were really cute, but very dilapidated and not insulated.  
and what they do with salvaged wood.

Here's how the kitchen looks now.

Another view

On to the bathroom.  
Keeping the pictures small because they are so ugly.

Here's the bathroom now...

The tub was scooped up by a neighbor who longed for a vintage claw foot tub. 
We were happy to help!

Here's a detail of the tile in the shower.

And the watery blue floor


We made some changes in the master bedroom, too.
Here's a picture of the room before it was redone.

This photo by Gridley and Graves shows how the same bedroom wall looks now.

We tore out the closet in the corner 
and added two small closets on the opposite wall, on either side of the window, below.

We also removed the plywood ceiling and paneling from the walls 
and had the ceiling in the room vaulted. 

We put the little salvaged window from the kitchen 
up into the new gable wall 

and had a skylight installed over the bed.  
It's lovely to lay in bed and see the stars or watch it snow.

Here's a peek into the tiny second bedroom. 
My son calls it the closet with some shelves you can sleep on!

It's tiny but it works!

The colors I used in the cottage were inspired by the colors at the beach
and by the beach glass that constantly washes up in the sand.

So, I got my wish...

Big sky, sandy beach, clear blue water...
You can see the weather coming when it's hours (or minutes away)!

And the sunsets!

It's all Just*Grand!


Thank you so much, Erin, for sharing your inspiring story with us. What a fabulous restoration!

Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces

See more home tours and small living ideas in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.


  1. Well that was just lovely. It's so good to be inspired and that's just how I feel after that post.

  2. Hi Erin !
    I read and commented the post Judy published about your so lovely cottage and today I'm far too happy to be able and make directly to you my congrats on your works, you've a little piece of Heaven in your cottage !
    Thank you again to both of you for sharing these amazing rooms and places, may your weekend be blessed with joy

  3. Erin you are proof positive that dreams do come true. Thank you for sharing your endearing story and your photographs of your very charming and relaxing cottage at the waters edge. Will be following your blog.
    Sweet Nancy a big hello and cyber hug from me. This is a fantastic post. Happy weekend!

  4. Beautiful! Love the setting, the renos and the colours. So pretty!

  5. With all the beautiful touches this cottage is adorable. I love all the blue. I like the closet with shelves to sleep on.

  6. WOW, she did a beautiful job fixing the cottage up. Everything looks so pretty.

  7. Such a precious cottage in such a spectacular setting! It just may be my all-time favorite :)

  8. Erin's cottage really is a "grand" renovation project. Dreamy! The photos from Gridley and Graves capture the charm and the magazine feature was inspiring to all of us DIYers.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Nancy!

  9. Erin what a beautiful re love of this cute cottage. You certainly gave her new life. Beautiful.
    I love the charm and cozy feel to the cottage and all the pretty cottage colors. So sweet.

  10. Absolutely beautiful! Your decor is stunning! And charming! Great job Erin !!

  11. What an amazing transformation! And I love the color scheme!

  12. Wow, what a great story of a dream come true. I love it, you and your husband did a beautiful job. The colors are so soothing too. The view, fantastic.


  13. Wow.

    What can I say other than it is a joy to see someone's dreams come true through HARD WORK. That cottage was lovingly saved from further dilapidation and now that entire environment has a new look! The VIEW - LAKE MICHIGAN IS GORGEOUS! And the color scheme of the cottage with the aqua accents is just perfectly done. Every room has been beautifully arranged in order to make small very, very attractive and efficient. With a small home, we learn to make with what we have and to be creative. No need for any HUGE homes - this is living.

    Fabulous renovation, ERIN! Nancy, thank you for celebrating the little things. MUCH LOVE! Anita

  14. I was so lost in the beautiful pictures I forgot where I was as this is a dream of mine also! So beautiful. I just love the same colors carried throughout the whole cottage. I hope to some day have a cottage on the water. My choice is the St. Lawrence River, where I grew up summers :-)

  15. Hi Nancy, this post was very dear to my heart, because I was raised in a ranch style house that my Dad built, just one block from the beach on Lake Michigan. That was back in the fifties. We owned that home for about 8 years. I loved living there, but going back is hard. There were woods all around and a big sand-dune behind our house. It made for excellent sledding in the winter. Now that sand-dune is gone and there is a school built there. Our one story ranch home has even grown a second story . . . things do change in time, but it is still only one block from the lake and miles of sandy beaches :) What I love most about this little cottage is the location and how it is nestled in with other cottages . . . so sweet :) I can imagination summer nights and lightening bugs flickering all around . . . it's a dream location and a darling little cottage. Oh, and that second bedroom . . . it is so nice and an amazing use of space. Thanks for sharing :)
    The more I visit your blog, the more I love it!
    Connie :)

  16. Gorgeous. After the first post, I popped by Judy's. Her year round home is just as lovely, but this cottage really is outstanding. Thanks for the sharing the pretty, Nancy! :)

  17. What a gorgeous little cottage Erin's cottage is! I love the colours and there is lots of inspiration there for cottage decor. Lovely!

  18. Seeing the transformation makes the cottage even more lovely.

  19. Wow! What a transformation! Lovely!

  20. It's a lovely transformation and I think you already guessed I love the colour palette used there.

  21. Hi dear Nancy ,, realmente es una transformación fantástica , adore esa casa con ese suele color turquesa

    1. Hola Angelica. Los colores son perfectos para una cabaña del lago.

  22. Beautiful!! I enjoyed reading the rest of the story. I still love the bathroom and the shower curtain. :-))

  23. What a lovely story! I think the only thing I wouldn't have changed is the bathroom... that tub!... That sink! Anyway, she did a wonderful job :)


  24. I loved looking at Erin's beautiful cottage and hearing it's story. Now it looks like the perfect weekend spot. Thanks for sharing Nancy. Hope you have a great week.

  25. I loved this little cottage the first time you shared it but I really loved knowing more about its story! Love what Erin has done with her lake cottage

  26. What a treat is was to see a cottage that was neglected and shabby be turned, with lots of hard work, into such a charming cheerful cottage. It looks so loved now!

  27. Thanks Nancy and Erin . . .
    Happy to see the cottage history . . . and the journey from shabby to really, really chic . . .

  28. Hi Nancy. I featured your swoon worthy cottage on Saturday Shout Out today. I hope you don't mind. Patty

  29. Where did you purchase the bathroom tile? I gotta have some!

    1. Sorry. This is not my home and I have no idea where they purchased the tile.


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