Inside a 500-Square-Foot Cabin Makeover
Little House on the Lake
When Sheri and Gerry Weber went in search of a place to put their boats, the two already owned an 1835 Cape-style house in the New Hampshire community of Elkins. The only problem? Their lake getaway sat a full quarter mile from Pleasant Lake. The Webers—including daughters Lucie, Janie, Ali, Jennifer, and Michelle—had to haul their kayaks and canoes every time they decided to go out on the water.
The family had no intention of buying another house until they lucked into a deal too good to pass up: a 500-square-foot cabin right on the water—one of a group of 1920s vacation rentals being sold off.
In this photo: Sheri furnishes the cabin's living room with outdoor finds that can handle wet swimsuits: a wicker sectional sofa from Restoration Hardware and a weather-resistant rug by Dash & Albert. Built-in cubbies store beach blankets and fishing gear, and the ladder leads to a sleeping loft. The walls are painted Strong White by Farrow & Ball.
Before: Living Area
Convenient though the location was, the home did have its drawbacks. Dark, dated paneling. Low ceilings. Teeny-tiny rooms. And virtually no view of the lake. To open the house up, the Webers' architect Jeremy Bonin removed the interior walls to create one large living area (seen on previous slide). Down came the wood paneling and dropped ceiling, bringing to light the framework's studs, as well as cathedral-style roof beams.
A Perch for Beds
"Without the ceiling, it was like, 'Wow!'?" explains Sheri. "We capitalized on all that extra height by putting in a sleeping loft." The futons up there wear vintage plaid wool throw pillows, plus orange-striped alpaca by D. Bryant Archie. The blue-striped coverlets are from Coyuchi, the chevron runner by Madeline Weinrib.
Bright idea: Declare your pride of place by turning state maps into artwork.
Since the "kitchen" is part of the main living area, it had to look good and incorporate clever storage solutions.
Kohler sink (set atop an accordion table from Arhaus Furniture) and a simple GE stove do the trick. The family upgraded the makeshift shelves with uniform rectangular units. "It's easy to forget about stuff hidden in a closet," says Sheri. "Cubbies keep whatever you use most in plain sight."
In this photo: Antique duck decoys, a midcentury ad for fishing lures, and a wooden arrow sign mingle with cookware on the shelves. The "7" placard above the bathroom door is a vestige of the home's former life as a vacation rental, while the walls are painted French Gray by Farrow & Ball.
Before: Dining Area
The Webers eschewed this built-in, vinyl-topped table for a mobile sideboard. Here and throughout, they pulled off the wood paneling, exposing the home's original walls with all their nooks and crannies. The pine floors received a sanding to highlight the wood's natural grain.
After: Dining Area
Since the house's walls remain free of sheetrock and insulation, the building is techincally a three-season destination; but a 1970s woodstove (not pictured) makes it possible for the Webers to hang out here in the winter, too, ice-skating on the lake and playing cards by a toasty fire.
In this photo: A wheeled iron cart doubles as a portable bar and stylish storage. Both that piece and the reclaimed-elm stools are by Arhaus Furniture. "Furniture on casters can roll right out of your way when you want to free up space," says Sheri.
Sheri treats the newly exposed studs as shelves that showcase Gerry's collections of vintage fishing gear and license plates. By the back door, a moose hook nabbed at a local shop hangs above a 1960s enamel clock. The vintage New Hampshire license plate is from Gerry's extensive collection.
On the Deck
The once squat windows are now generous enough to take in the postcard-worthy scenery. French doors lead to an elevated screened porch off the back.
In this photo: Sheri (in an Eames chair) Gerry, and Riley, the Webers' golden retriever, unwind on the porch.
The Webers also indulged in a few fantasy elements they don't have at their nearby house, like an outdoor shower—itself equipped with a view. "You open the shutters and see the lake," says daughter Janie. "It's heaven." The cabin's old garage doors were used to enclose the shower.