Vacation House Rules: A Rustic Retreat and a Puppy Paradise

Contractor and real estate pro Scott McGillivray, along with an assist from designer Debra Salmoni, helps two homeowners upgrade their secluded lakefront home which has suffered damage from a flood. Scott works to transform their rundown money-pit into an inviting — and pet-friendly — vacation getaway.

July 31, 2020

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

Photo By: Thomas Bollmann

It's Not Just a Job — It's a Vacation!

In this Vacation House Rules project, renovation pro Scott McGillivray helps homeowners Lynn and Mark transform their secluded lakeside cottage, repairing flood damage and upgrading the house with style and new amenities — including some sure to appeal furry four-footed friends.

All Welcome

While helping to restore the charm and character of this secluded retreat, new improvements, seen here after the renovation, help ensure that the vacation getaway is also a sound investment for the owners as a rental property — and especially enticing for guests looking for a pet-friendly destination.

Warm and Rustic

The newly renovated interior retains the cabin's original country spirit while making a bold visual statement with modern accents, warm, rich tones and lots of wood.

Cool and Modern

The house sits on a small and peaceful lake and features some beautiful views of the unspoiled natural surroundings. The newly remodeled living room, with large floor-to-ceiling windows, takes full advantage of the surrounding scenery.

Surrounded in Comfort

The newly reconfigured upstairs master-bedroom offers a calm and relaxing feel with low pitched ceilings, hardwood floors and barn style door.

Golden Pond

One of Scott's most inspired ideas was to add this gazebo on a flat area at the banks of the lake. Now complete and fully furnished, the new structure offers a perfect setting for lakeside relaxing and taking in late-afternoon sunsets.

Elegant and Efficient

The kitchen gets a full makeover with white-stained shiplap ceiling, stone countertops, new cabinetry and a cool color palette of white and soft gray.

Tiny Getaway

One of three outdoor storage sheds, this one gets repurposed as a standalone tiny cabin to accommodate additional guests.

Diminutive Interiors

Formerly used for tool storage, the newly transformed interior in the repurposed shed is now a nap-enthusiast's dream.

Transformation Underway

Scott inspects insulation as he and the crew begin work on the reno.

Eye on the Prize

Part of the objective in this renovation is to ensure that the rental income from the upgraded cabin will cover homeowner's mortgage as well as recouping the repair costs. The cabin's quiet and secluded location and the completely natural surroundings should make for a highly desirable rental once the upgrades are done.

Cabin Exterior, Before

The owners had been renting out the cabin, but only on a limited basis and mostly just to friends. They hope that repairs and updating may make it more profitable as a rental that can be occupied by renters for a good portion of the year.

Cabin Exterior, After

The badly damaged and rotted balcony deck has been repaired and the exterior has been given a new look with a lighter palette of soft-gray exterior paint, white trim and contrasting black accents.

Living Room, Before

The living room was fairly spacious, but visually unspectacular and it felt closed off from the rest of the main floor.

Living and Dining Room, After

The newly opened up spaces now have a better flow that creates a bright but soothing and relaxing environment.

Dining Room, After

The large dining room windows help create one of the home's most impressive views.

Dining Room, Detail

Before

A functional woodburning stove is used to heat the cabin in cold months. The stove was in working order but, prior to the renovation, the tile surround was damaged making for an unsafe situation, and the adjacent family area was in need of some visual enhancement.

After

The space is visually transformed with a new marble surround for the wood stove, natural-stone feature wall, exposed wood beams, integrated window bench with storage and a new games table.

Kitchen, Before

The kitchen, which was remodeled earlier, is functional but could hardly be characterized as a stunning vacation-home gem.

Kitchen, After

The kitchen gets reconfigured with an upgrade that includes new hardwood floors, marble countertops, stylized subway tile, lots of storage and all new lighting.

Master Bedroom, Before

The upstairs had been a visual and functional hodge-podge of three awkwardly arranged spaces, all serving as bedrooms. This main bedroom was directly adjacent to another sleeping area, making for a problematic flow.

Master Bedroom, After

Throughout the renovation, Scott and Debra went with designs that relied on a soft and neutral palette, as seen here in the master bedroom. Modern urban styling accessories work well in this bedroom with its pitched ceiling and large windows, emphasizing the outdoor view as the star feature of the space.

Master Bedroom, Detail

Scott recommends neutral decor and minimizing personal mementos or photos when furnishing a home that will double as a rental.

Master Bedroom, Detail

Main-Floor Bath, Before

The main bathroom was visually drab and had a cramped arrangement since the space also served as a laundry room.

Main-Floor Bath, After

The bath gets major enhancements with dark gray tile floors, a soothing gray and white palette, stylized vanity and glass shower.

Main-Floor Bath, After

Main-Floor Bath, After

The stackable washer-dryer unit is now concealed behind a barn-style door on rollers with contrasting black hardware. The adjacent space is an extra station with a bench seat, towel rack and extra storage for towels and linens.

Tiny Retreat

It's not every lake house that comes with its own dedicated tiny-house guest quarters.

Before

One of several sheds on the property, this one formerly housed garden tools, cleaning supplies and outdoor sporting equipment.

After

The former tool shed is now an inviting guest annex with a cabin-like charm of its own.

Upstairs Den, After

This upstairs space had been earmarked a as a makeshift "bedroom." It's now more practical and functional as a den but, with a trundle day-bed, can still accommodate additional sleep-over guests in a pinch.

This Space Reserved

The den may also come in handy if any of the guests are of canine variety.

Upstairs Den, Detail

Upstairs Den, Detail

New Upstairs Bathroom, After

The upstairs floorplan was reconfigured, with bedrooms consolidated to create a master suite including this new en suite bath.

New Upstairs Bathroom, After

Lakeside Destination

The new lakeside gazebo, with classic design, is most certainly one of the star amenities of the newly renovated lake home.

Lakeside Destination

Lakeside Destination

It's a Dog's Life

With vacation rentals, one of the most searched-on terms is "pet-friendly." Scott's strategy to help maximize rental proceeds is to, not simply allow guests to bring pets, but to actively encourage it — and market that amenity. The owners' standard poodle Crystal thinks it's a wonderful idea.

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