Guest cottage renovation

April 29th, 2012


Déjà vu! This was nearly the same opening photo from our first cottage renovation 2 years ago. You may or may not know that our cottage also has a matching guest cottage on the property that used to act as a rental unit when Juli was growing up. During the first renovation we focused on the cottage closer to the lake and it was more than enough to hold ourselves and our friends over the summer.

With the arrival of our baby we decided to start working away at the guest cottage so our friends and family have their own private space. It is going to a be a lot of work, but my brother Frank and I started taking day trips once a week to get the work done.


Our first step was to empty the furniture in the cottage, and box up all of the miscellaneous antiques to be sorted out after the renovation. With the recommendation from our neighbor we contacted a local antique dealer to visit the cottage and make an offer on the contents.

They gave us a reasonable offer and hauled away everything later that day. Originally we were just going to donate everything, but I’m so glad we called these guys, they were really nice and came to the cottage within an hour of contact.


The bedrooms are really tired looking, and all of the windows need an update.


The water tank in one of the bedrooms already has a decent frame around it, I think we’ll panel it up with some nice pickled pine wood.


There are some details we are happy to keep, including these beautifully oxidized copper sconces in the sun room. This room is going to be the highlight of the renovation complete with matching daybeds.


A view from the living room to the sun room.


We started pulling up the carpet, which lead to 2 layers of linoleum nailed to the floor with a million nails. Next week Frank and I will be on our hands and knees pulling them up one by one.

We still don’t know if we should sand down the pine floors, and treat them with lye giving them a bleached effect. Of course the other more simple solution is painting them white like the main cottage. Part of me wants this one to have more of a natural feel, as if the cottage was never really renovated, just smartly re-worked in the 60s complete with Aalto furniture, white plaster, and pine floors.

What do you think?


Filed under: Cottage Reno | 13 comments

13 Responses to 'Guest cottage renovation'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Guest cottage renovation'.


  1. Oh looks like fun. I bet it would be nice to have a different feel in the other cottage, maybe more interesting for renovating to try something new too. & sanded or bleached pine floors sound great. It does make it really warm to have the wood flooring…


    29 Apr 12 at 3:35 pm

  2. Thank you for posting about the renovation, I really enjoy your blog and the first cabin renovation post were some of my favorites! Please keep posting, I love seeing the home transformations you guys do!


    29 Apr 12 at 10:54 pm

  3. Thanks for the comments Lila and Lori! We’re really excited about this one. We learned a lot from the last renovation so I think the guest cottage could end up looking even better!

    John & Juli

    30 Apr 12 at 9:49 am

  4. my vote goes for the lye! i think having similar elements, but a different feel, will make you happiest in the end – at least, that’s what always happens when i update anything. good luck with the renos, and i cannot wait to see the play-by-play! :)


    30 Apr 12 at 10:47 am

  5. Thanks Indreams, I think you’re right tomorrow we’re going to be taking up the nails and hopefully rent a sander for the day.

    Mary – We are renovating our place, but not ourselves. I don’t think we would ever finish if I did all of the work!

    John & Juli

    2 May 12 at 10:38 am

  6. Hi John;
    I would hire experts to take out the linoleum because old linoleum often contains asbestos or backing containing asbestos. I would get advice on this. Sorry (don’t mean to rain on your parade).
    Looks like fun though; Simone


    30 Apr 12 at 2:52 pm

  7. Simone

    30 Apr 12 at 3:02 pm

  8. Ohh! You are a brave guy to pull up and do all that work!! Arent you also home renovating… do I sense a new business adventure!! Cant wait to see the outcome!


    30 Apr 12 at 5:47 pm

  9. I vote bleach!
    Can’t wait to see the results of this project as I am a huge fan of the main cottage reno.


    1 May 12 at 8:08 pm

  10. My parents have Iye flooring and it looks and feels gorgeous, not a bit yellowish at all after 8 years, still a light white-greyish (but they had new pine, maybe the Iye reacts differently on old wood) You can remove stains quite easily and the feel is almost velvety.

    The Cottage Reno had unbelievable results, those images of the dining area still belong to the most beautiful ones of all times for me.

    All the Best for you and mini milk!


    4 May 12 at 6:44 am

  11. Dear ms, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I’m placing an order for lye today, next week we will finally sand down the floors and attempt our first coat. Glad to hear from someone who has seen the effect in person.

    John & Juli

    4 May 12 at 12:11 pm

  12. Dear John and Juli, I quickly share some more experiences if you don´t mind. We had two different finishes after the basic Iye treatment everywhere. In the living and dining area we put white pigmented wooden floor soap as the last coat and the effect is the one as described above. The benefit is that it stays very light and has this soft feeling. On the other side it is more prone to water stains if they are not removed until still wet because the wood remains quite “open”. In areas of stronger expose as the stairs and the entry hall we have used a white pigmented wooden floor oil finish. This is clearly more resistant against humidity and dirt and has a more closed surface. The color remains a very little less light than the soap finish. Apart from just vacuuming we wet clean (about every 3 month or more) both finishes with one cup of white pigmented wooden floor soap added to half a bucket of mopping water.
    The products we used were from the danish firm Trip Trap which today is called Faxe.

    While putting on the Iye in some areas of the wood yellow liquid appeared, like where the branches were. We removed them a little bit with paper towels to not let it ruin the regular color outcome.

    Good luck!


    6 May 12 at 1:51 am

  13. Dear Miriam,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to right us such a detailed comment. I love the look of soap treated floors, we’re actually using that effect for our own home. It’s funny you mention Trip trap because that is the brand we are using for the lye, but oddly enough it is also branded as “Woca” in North America. After reading your comment and thinking about it a bit more maybe we should use soap on the cottage floors… We were considering something a bit stronger because people will sometimes wear shoes in the cottage, but the soap is a more natural look. We’re going to lye treat the floors tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to what it’s going to look like. Stay tuned!

    John & Juli

    9 May 12 at 6:12 pm

Leave a Reply

We love to hear your comments! This is a personal blog, therefore please use discretion when commenting –
if you wouldn’t say it in person, then it’s best left unsaid.

*******Please note, your comment has probably ended up in our spam folder, but don't worry, we do check it and approve comments, just maybe not as fast as we should.******

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree