Guest House Renovation Plans

Ok, so you may be saying guest house renovation plans, whaaat??? We are still saying that to ourselves too, ha! Let me back up. Right next door to our house is one of the original little cottages on the lake. It has been vacant for the last 4 years and in pretty rough shape (that may be an understatement). We have always tossed around the idea of buying it if it ever came up for sale. Well, this winter it finally did and we decided to go for it! When I say little, it’s a total of 556 sq feet. two bedrooms, the world’s tiniest bathroom, and a kitchen/living room combo along with 50 ft of lake frontage.

Lake House Guest Cottage Renovation

Here’s a little tour…and stay with me, I know it looks a tad scary. It doesn’t help that I snapped the inside shots when it was raining. I promise in real life it has a lot of potential and charm, despite these creepy straight out of “Ozark” shots.

A large lawn in front of a house

You can see how close our house is in the above photo.

Here is the kitchen.

wooden cottage kitchen

wooden kitchen cottage

Living room.

wood paneled cottage living room

Bathroom…don’t worry we will be gutting this.

A close up of a sink in a small bathroom

bathroom renovation before photo

Bedroom 1.

wood paneled cottage renovation

Bedroom 2.

wood paneled cottage renovation

We’ve been sitting on it all winter trying to figure out what to do with it. Knock it down? Try and save it? Rent it out? Well, after much debate, we have decided we are going to fix it up. This will be the new Lily Pad Cottage Headquarters when it’s finished! We are going to turn it into an office/guest house space. When we built our current home we didn’t include a guest room, or an office in the plans. We have kicked ourselves over that decision a few times now (or for this whole year of the Mr. working from home). So this will function as my office on a day-to-day basis. The Mr. will use it too if he is still working from home by the time it’s done. With the two bedrooms, it will be great for weekend guests as well. Also long term, my mom is jokingly referring to this as her own personal retirement home! ;)  Renting it out occasionally is an option too, lots of possibilities!

I’m so excited to have an actual desk to sit at, as is my neck and back. Apparently my days of blogging from my couch with Charlie in my lap are over – according to my chiropractor. It’s time to sit in a big girl chair at a real desk, and this little cottage has just the spot by the window overlooking the lake!

I’ve been coming up with a few different design ideas that I thought I would share. Let’s start outside –

Lake House Guest Cottage Renovation

Lake house renovation plans

These aren’t the exact windows and doors etc. we are going to use, but this is just a quick design idea to give a sense of the plan. We want to add a french door and replace those windows. The siding needs a good power washing, but otherwise, it’s in fine shape. I think shutters and maybe a little pergola would go a long way in adding curb appeal.

I shared a little tour on Instagram (it’s saved in my highlights if you want to check it out). There were lots of suggestions to put additions on or a second story. Building on the lake has a zillion hoops to jump through, which translates to $$$. So for now, we are going to work with the existing footprint and do this makeover on a budget. We can always revisit an addition down the road, but we want to see how we use this space first before spending a ton of money on it.

lake view with red shed

Here is a look at the view from the patio, again I wish I had taken this on a sunny day. We plan to take this eyesore shed down, which is happening later this week. In its place, we will be putting in a nice firepit. A firepit area down by the lake has been in the plans for the last few years. I’m so glad we waited because this is the perfect spot for it.

A living roomFor the inside, we plan on ripping out the kitchen, painting all that paneling, and gutting the bathroom. I used Ikea’s kitchen planner to make a little mockup of the living room/kitchen space.

A chair sitting in front of a windowSee my desk overlooking the lake? It’s going to be so fun!

old cottage wood kitchen

We plan on removing all the upper cabinets to make room for a larger window. Also, extending the kitchen into an L-shape will give us more counter space.

Renovation and HouseOh and don’t worry, I have ideas for that drop ceiling too… As usual, I will be sharing the whole process here and on Instagram.

So what do you think? Have we lost our minds?? I’m not sure either, but I’m excited! I think this little place needs a name, any ideas? Someone suggested Frogmore Cottage ha! Which is pretty darn cute with Lily Pad Cottage…

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108 Comments

  1. Very interested in seeing the transformation. Have been a fan of yours for a number of years. Maybe you should consult with your Mom on the name since she seems to think she will be living there at some point.

  2. Hi Kelly! I’m so very excited for you! You’re so talented- I just can’t wait to see the finished cottage! My hubby and I bought a very similar fixer upper on Big Platte Lake in Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore which was empty for 3 years. That certainly made for some interesting finds during the reno. The funny thing is that it’s 1,000 sq ft and has had 5 additions off of the main cabin. :-)We opted to keep the same footprint for $$$ reasons (to start with, to tear down would mean a $60k foundation). So needless to say, the decision was easy and my dad and I did the reno ourselves (best dad ever!). If you want me to pass along some before and after pics in case it’s helpful, I’d be happy to. When we were doing our reno, I couldn’t find too many inspiration photos with bathrooms and kitchens like those in our old cabins.

    1. We have a family cottage on Big Platte as well. We’re usually there in late summer and fall. Love to see what you did! Can’t wait to see what happens to Frogmore Cottage.

      1. Absolutely! We’re on the sandbar, the second house to the left of the river (grey shake shingle cottage). If you want to touch base via email, my address is [email protected]. Hope to hear from you!

        1. We’re in the little blue house on Deadstream near M22. I’ll be in touch for sure. Small world!

          1. That’s great! Thanks to remote work, at least for now, I’m planning to be up quite a bit this spring and summer. Looking forward to meeting you. :-)

  3. Oh my goodness! You literally have a three-building compound now! What a delightfully manageable space for you to do your magic. I personally love the old wooden paneling and it looks like it’s in wonderful shape. Can’t wait to see if you go white or color on this. You are going to have a ball!

    1. Ha we didn’t really intend on a whole compound but it’s kind of working out that way! I’m still deciding if I go white or a light color too. Definitely want to lighten it up in there.

  4. Oh my word! You are going to knock it out of the park! Thanks for letting us come along on the journey.

  5. This will be another great project – can’t wait to see the transformation. Love the name Frogmore Cottage. Kudos to whomever suggested that name. And what a view to have while working.

    1. How amazing for you! It will be adorable I’m sure. With the pool/bunk house and now this you will be ready to host whatever guests come your way. I second the matching siding and the Tadpole Cottage name

  6. Great decisions. This will enhance your property so much! You can never have too much lake frontage, and buffer from neighbors…

  7. What a great idea to buy this property since it’s so close to your home. Have you ever though about making the exterior the exact same color and trim as your existing home so when onlookers see both homes they will know they belong to the same owner? You could also put some type of a path linking the two backyards. Endless possibilities… I can see the potential and I can’t wait to see what you decide to do with it! Congratulations!

    1. For now I think we will keep it white just because there are 100 million projects already and the siding is in good shape but that’s a fun idea!

  8. Looking forward to this reno! Also, there are many different kinds of water lilies. They have different names, such as Cape Blue, Hyacinth, Afterglow and Midnight. Maybe go in that direction for the name of the guest house?

  9. Wow, Kelly, I love that sweet little cottage! It reminds me so much of my Aunt’s lake cottage in Wisconsin and I’m SO excited to watch you bring it back to life.

  10. I can’t wait to see the renovation. What a great opportunity to have it come up for sale! I’m sure it will be beautiful.

  11. I’m so excited to walk through this journey with you! The perfect little house FULL of potential and opportunity.

  12. Oh my, I cannot WAIT to hear more about your drop ceiling plans. We have drop ceiling in our MI lake house and I was lying in bed last night asking my husband all about it to see if we can go full Leann Ford and expose it/spray it all white. He doesn’t seem to think so. I’m not convinced though. Can’t wait to see what you have in mind as options.

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