Our cottage overhaul

Even before I had a blog I’ve known I was going to write this story someday. When we decided to purchase the cottage, we knew there would be renovations and significant redecorating needed to get it to what we wanted. As a person who loves a good “before & after” renovation story, as we progressed through it I kept in mind what pictures I wanted to take, and what details I would like to pass along. And, for the most part, I did remember to take those pictures.

If you read the “About” page on this website, you’ll know how my husband and I came to purchase a cottage in Prince Edward Island in September of 2018. If you haven’t read it and would like to, here’s the link. But you don’t need to understand why we bought this cottage to want to see what we did with it.

The project . . .

The “cottage” we purchased is a fully-winterized 3-bedroom home with a finished basement. I say this just so you’ll understand that the renovating and redecorating of this “cottage” was a significant undertaking. The cottage is located in a seasonal community which is closed between December and May. During the closed period, residents can park at the main road and walk in if they want to.  We knew this before closing the deal and knew we would not use the cottage in the winter even if accessible. Why? We live about 3 hours away and the winters on the north shore of PEI can be pretty harsh.

When we made the purchase, we planned to do the following projects:

  • Paint every room (living room, kitchen, sunroom, 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms), both stairwells and both sets of stairs. The ceiling of nearly every room also needed to be painted. Luckily, the ceilings of both bathrooms and the basement were white already.     
  • Replace the bathroom sink/vanity.
  • Add two short, interior walls to provide privacy to the master bedroom and private access to the upper bathroom.
  • Separate the deep walk-in closet into two closets.
  • Add a door to the new walk-in closet.
  • Add flooring, rod and shelves in walk-in closets

The list grows . . .

We added a few more projects to the list over the course of the winter :

  • Replace the front upper balcony.
  • Replace the small side deck.
  • Swap out the upstairs bathroom tub with a walk-in shower and upgrade the cushion flooring with laminate
  • Add flooring and new clothing rod and shelves in walk-in closets

The cottage only had a 2nd floor bathroom and one in the finished basement….no main floor bathroom. While this wasn’t initially an issue, over time it became apparently that the lack of main floor bath would prevent some people with mobility issues, from renting or even visiting us. So a half bathroom was added to the sunroom late in the summer of 2020.

More than just a house . . .

The purchase of the cottage included most contents except personal and decor items.  One thing we decided early on, both to save money and to retain some of the previous owner’s touches, was to keep and reuse/repurpose some items/features.

There were a number of other items left in the house that we didn’t want so we used Kijiji to either sell them at very low prices to get rid of them as quickly as possible. We met 5 lovely couples/families from the various parts of the island and got rid of things we didn’t need want at the same time.

Once the place was basically cleaned out of everything that wasn’t staying, it was time to begin the transformation.

The contractor we had found to do our project couldn’t start until to the following spring due to current projects he had underway. Electrical and plumbing work would be done in conjunction with the contractor’s work. So, the only project we could really begin in the fall of 2018 was painting the interior. Before going back to Nova Scotia in mid-September, we removed all 27 kitchen cabinet doors and took them back with us for me to paint over the winter.

Creative juices get flowing . . .

The last time I had the opportunity to choose paint for an entire house was almost 20 years ago when we built a home and worked with an interior designer. This time I was on my own and had pretty much a free hand as Karl didn’t feel the need to be involved in the redecorating. I knew I wanted a fresh, light, beachy feeling with not too many shades going on. Pinterest was a great help and I finally selected 3 shades of blue-green tones and a sand like colour.

Using an online paint quantity estimator, I calculated that we needed 18 gallons, including 8 for the ceilings. Of all the colours, the only one I overestimated was ceiling paint. Luckily, we were able to return 3 gallons as they were not tinted. To save time we decided to use paint with primer included – Behr brand. Home Depot was having a sale on Behr paint in late September and I knew would save about $10/gallon buying Behr at that point over my usual favourite – Benjamin Moore. When you’re buying 18 gallons of paint, saving $10/gallon is nice.

Testing the waters . . .

In order to make sure we were getting the “right” colours, before I bought all the coloured paint, I bought 3 of Home Depot’s sample cans – one for each of the blue and green shades. On our trip to the island in mid-September, we cut up some large cardboard boxes to give 3 large pieces – each 2 by 3 feet – and painted one in each shade of blue-green. I had been planning to paint a large swatch of colour on various walls but realized a sample can wouldn’t be enough to do so. Painting the cardboard sections gave us the ability to move them around and see how the colours would look in different rooms at different times of the day as colours change with the amount and brightness of daylight.

250 ml (8 oz) sample cans – $5 CDN!

By the end of the weekend we had changed our minds on 2 of the 3 shades. Looking at colours on a tablet or even having real 4″ x 4″ colour swatches just can’t give you an exact idea of what a whole room will look like in bright light or on a gray day. Colour boards are definitely a big help and I love the final look of all the colours in the house. Next post – time to roll up our sleeves and get painting.

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