All I wanted was a simple white paint…

A dreamy page from Cottage Living Magazine…


Our lake house came pre-furnished with all kinds of furniture. Nothing I would have bought, but it’s here, and it’s free, and we’re using the stuff. Some of the stuff reeked with fleas, odors and noxious smells; so we burned them. These included a burnt orange fuzzy chair; a brown mushroom footstool, and a goldenrod-upholstered swivel chair.

Soon, people around the lake started donating more stuff, like mattresses, oak console tables, and sofas. We took whatever came our way. We have no fear of getting too much stuff, because the lake house came with this huge guesthouse. (We bought our lake house solely for it’s lake front – unfortunately, it came with all of these buildings that need maintenance, repairs and expense and furniture. A simple sparse cottage would have been fine – but that story is for another day.)

Decorating is not my strength – but I know what I want. Something along the lines of Domino Magazine-IKEA-Shabby Chic – but lacking the wherewithal to pull it off with grace, and a minimal budget. Not wanting to go wrong, I thought I start with paint – but time is valuable, and knowing I had to pick the perfect color the first time, I hired a professional to help me with this one task. I gave her a picture that I’ve coveted for over a year – it’s stood the test of time, and I know this is the one. So I told her, “I want this… the color, listed in the page is Sherwin Williams “Snowbound.” No, she said, white wouldn’t do in our cottage. Too much blue and brown outside… you’ll have to go with “cream.” OK, cream it is. Which one? “Dover White.” She said.

But not on all the walls… she picked this dreary, gray-basement blue, in various shades for the rest of the place. Then, assuming she had a “blank check” busied herself at her office behind the scenes picking out upholstery fabrics, furniture styles and who knows what else. At $50 an hour. Furniture, especially with four boys around, is not an investment I want to dream about right now. Let me repeat: I want basic Domino Magazine-IKEA-Shabby-Chic.  This decorator was taking me far away from that path.

Luckily, I have a friend with amazing decorating talent. You can see her fantastic gingerbread house here. Still, since she moved far away, I haven’t seen my Diva friend for two years. Out of the blue, she called. She would be passing through my lake house town on her way back home to see her Mom, further north. Could she stop and visit me? Oh yes… I’d love to see her.

She came – our kids played on the trampoline until dark, and we got caught up, talking as friends who have never once been separated. I showed her the paint chips the “decorator” picked. My friend almost barfed. As she and her kids retired to our guest house quarters, well past 11, she took a couple of issues of my Domino Magazine and figured out the entire floor plan and decorating scheme for my lake house. And, here’s the best part: Using what I already had. She had an eye for picking out the beauty in the lines of furniture I already have. All we need to do now is to cover the cushions in new colors to pull everything together.

By morning, the pages of Domino were tagged with their self-provided stickers, and my Diva friend was full of ideas. She poured out her brainstorms while I mixed up and cooked about 98 pancakes for all of the 6 kids, while rain drizzled on our Saturday morning. Soon, her vision infected my brain, and I could totally see where she was going, and how to pull it off—still under her careful guidance.

When the kids were outside fishing and playing waffle ball, we ate our own pancakes and came up with a plan. Two strong men just happened to be up next door at Uncle Bud’s, and I still had a stack of pancakes ready to use as payment for heavy lifting. I knew we had to work quickly – I wanted to have it all done before my husband showed up. Although I knew my husband would love all these ideas, he likes to put this moving furniture stuff on hold – doing more “important” work like staining the deck instead. But like my friend said, “this is necessary work too… you need a place to relax after you’ve done the deck.” I knew if we had it all done before my husband arrived he’d be thrilled. But it wouldn’t be something he’d like to do himself.

So, while we set off to work, I ended up getting a surprise from Uncle Bud’s next door. Part II of this story comes tomorrow.  It put a smile on my face all week…and counting.

For now, you can read about why we need to re-do the deck AGAIN, this year.

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7 comments to “All I wanted was a simple white paint…”
  1. Why is it so hard to find the right color? I had nightmares the first night we started staging that the taupe we picked to bathe the inside of the house with was too pink.

    I woke up so stressed but it was fine.

    Thank goodness you have someone with an eye for stuff like that. Does she travel?

  2. I like the magazine layout, except for maybe the glass vase on the table (no kids in that house) and the wagon wheel against the right-hand wall. But I’m totally with you on the simple colors and furniture–comfortable but still nice.

    Whenever I visit my mom I always gorge myself on her Cottage Living magazines, plus all her cool cottage magazines from England.

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