Question: Dear Luise: I’m interested in cottage decorating because we just got a little lakefront place in the woods for weekends. It’s not new, or large and it’s unfurnished. Most interior home decorating ideas that I see in magazines are too costly and look too formal for our tastes and budget. We have two young children and a dog, if that information helps at all. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much. Marilyn
Answer: Dear Marilyn: For what it’s worth, I spent my childhood summers in just such a place. Recalling that, I would think first and foremost about functionality and upkeep. The last thing you are going to want to do on your precious weekends is housework.
You haven’t told me what the floors are, but if they aren’t a laminate like Pergo, I would suggest you start there. Kids are going to run in and out with sandy feet and so is your dog. You may have to contend with dripping bathing suits, too. Throw rugs that you can shake and wash, when needed, can soften the look of washable flooring.
Low priced furniture that is comprised of covered cushions is a good idea. It makes it easier for you to clean up what might be transferred to the fabric from “s’mores” and cremated hot dogs. I’m not suggesting that all rules of conduct and sanitation be thrown out the window, but it’s a much more casual environment…of should be.
I’d look at high-end laundry equipment because you will have sand and maybe pine needles and pitch to deal with. And I’d think about a stove with a Bar-B-Q feature in case outside plans have to come inside due to a change in the weather. Or, possibly, the addition of a covered, all-weather deck for protected grilling would be an even better way to face that eventuality. Get a good dishwasher, too. Mom gets to lie in the sun, don’t forget.
Bunk beds are great if your kids are old enough, and get a double set for friends. An inflatable bed for the living room floor is another idea for occasional guests. If you don’t want to deal with firewood, have a fireplace anyhow. The gas ones can fool anyone and we’re talking rain on the roof, a fire…good music and Monopoly.
Beyond decorating…I’d suggest you set yourself up with whatever you may need for power outages. They may happen more often in the sticks. Emergency water, and food, too so you can rough it in comfort. And think about water safety for both boating and swimming. Get some training in CPR and create a full-service first aid kit.
Talk with your new neighbors and learn what they have found to be handy in your new setting. That way you can approach cottage decorating and cottage life well prepared while upping your enjoyment factor appreciably. Blessings, Luise