Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little Cottage by the Lake

Are you ready for another "Before and After"?
This is a post I have been eager to write- Four years ago today, we bought a tiny, and I mean tiny, shabby, neglected, little cottage in a fabulous location on a dune overlooking Lake Michigan, only 1 1/2 hours from home. The area has an abundance of grand things to do - art galleries, wineries, antique shops, fishing, kayaking, biking, walking, dining, relaxing and so much more. In the past four years, we have spent countless hours remodeling the cottage, and it has been very rewarding. We now have a nearly finished, enchanted little getaway and we have gained a whole new neighborhood full of wonderful friends!  It has truly been a labor of love, mostly love on my part and labor on Mr. Grand's.... I still cannot believe I convinced him to buy it.

The Setting
Second cottage from the left with the lovely brown trim. 
These 7 cottages were originally built over 70 years ago as "Housekeeping Cottages" that were rented to families trying to escape the summer heat.
We looked at exactly one cottage to buy, because this is exactly what I wanted
(and all we could afford)
and there are no other setups like this on the lake side of the road- it's mostly mansions on the lakefront lots.  We had rented a cottage nearby more than 10 years ago and I always remembered these little cottages at the top of the dune and I wondered who the lucky families were that got to stay there... We share the lot with our new neighbors (those same lucky families!) and the Association takes care of its' maintenance.  In theory, it would be practically carefree...

The View

in need of some serious TLC...

Back to the Beach and the reason the cottages were built there- it's so close, you just tumble down the dune and there it is - breezy and wide! 
Down is easy. We won't talk about the trip back up -
 we call it "Buzz Kill Hill" when climbed after cocktails and campfires on the beach...

The Michigan coast is so beautiful -
winding and wooded and often deserted, except for about 6 weeks in the summer. 
Burly and Mr. Grand love running there.

Fast Forward - Four Years Later:
After a new roof, new windows and doors, new siding, a new deck and new landscaping, 
plus a complete interior gut job, here is what the cottage looks like today...

Here is the front view, "After". 

Here is the back view "After" -
and a peek at the re-done outdoor shower, built by hand, by Mr. Grand, on the left side of the picture.

I'm sure the neighbors miss that old gold shed...

Here are my girls, painting the new outdoor shower.   
I'll save the whole shower post for another day.

I just love this picture...

Here is a sneak peak at the fabulous interior decor - "Before", in case you were wondering...
Diggin' the Brady Bunch vibe.

Another peek at the interior, "Before". 
I may have been suggesting that a new kitchen might be in order.
I 'm not sure Mr. Grand was too thrilled here.

I'll save the gritty "Before" and miraculous "After" interior pictures for another day...

Time for a sunset, a campfire and a nice beverage....  

 Come on down to the beach!

Can you see the skyline of the city of Chicago, way off in the distance? 
So close and yet so far. 

It's Just*Grand!

Pin It!


  1. It looks like a tiny version of your Grand house. Nice way to have your lifestyle in both places. Now I understand all the work you put into your getaway house. Looks fantastic. What a setting!

  2. What a cute post!

  3. Thank you for your nice note on my blog!! Best, Kate

  4. What a cute cottage. I would love to have a little vacation spot to get away to. Thanks for coming by.

  5. I LOVE this cottage and what you did to fix it up. Just beautiful. I have always dreamed of having a place on the lake. But after having dual residences for many years. We're just staying put in one place from now on. My husband is from Michigan. It is gorgeous there.

  6. When I visit Just Grant, I feel I'm on a mini-vacation!

  7. omg. we can't be friends unless i get an invite to that cozy cottage because--get this--i grew up going to a ramshackle cottage on lake michigan in a small community called "grand beach". weird, huh? that's a grand coincidence, don't you think? (sorry, puns spill outta my mouth like foam on a rabid dog)

    where the heck is your place??? promise not to stalk... or become a squatter. really.

    (and please take off your weird wavy word so i'll leave you more comments. please.)

  8. What a wonderful job you all did! It looks so pretty now :)

  9. That is so cute! What an utterly charming little cottage. I love every single bit of it.

  10. Oh my WORD!! It is just AWESOME!!!
    Very Nicely done!!
    We bought a cottage this past summer also, on a smaller lake near Lake Michigan. We are also currently renovating it,as it was a re-po & needed a TON of work. I have not shown it yet, as I have been too busy painting : )
    We must be practically neighbors... though ours is 1 1/2 hrs. north of us.. & can not see Chicago from there.. : )
    Great Transformation!!!
    Stopping by from B/A... & new follower..

  11. You're totally living my dream. Where are these cottages?!

  12. Oh! you're so lucky to leave in a place like that so close to the sea!
    Love, Olga

  13. Beautiful! Oh how we love Michigan, hard to get that off my tongue as a native Ohioan! We like to vacation near Saugatuck/Douglas and there are many similar homes... but yours has that perfect, loving touch! I hope you enjoy it for years to come!

  14. WOW! My dream cottage. Congrats on all your hard work and great style!

  15. Absolutely charming! I love the setting of your cabin and it looks so sweet as you have fixed it up! Thank you so much for your email!! Happy New Year!!

  16. Erin,
    I am really enjoying your blog with pics and commentary. Did you know I am Michigan born and bred? So I agree that the west coast of Michigan is a very special place, indeed! However, we still chose to buy our little cottage on the south coast of North Carolina. We did much of the same things you have done. Small, but perfect since you are outside as much as possible. Too bad it takes us 18 hours to get to ours while you have 90 minutes! Have to visit sometime for a day trip. . . Gail

  17. Oh Em Gee Erin!! This is FABULOUS!! I SO love it....ohmygoodness!! I simply ADORE the beach and to be able to have such an amazing cottage ON it...would be heaven!! I want to see interior photos!

    LOVE IT!

    Lou Cinda

  18. PLEASE let this Ohio gal know if ANY of those neighbors of yours want to sell - seriously. Please.

    LOVE your cottage!!!!!

  19. Hey Erin! What an adorable little cottage! I've lived in Michigan all my life and spent my childhood summer on the shores of Lake Michigan in Port Sheldon. Where is your cottage? Love the before and afters of the outside!! Beautiful job!!!! :)

    xoxo laurie

  20. What a great cottage. I'd love to see "after" interior shots.

  21. Oh,,, I am so jealous. How FAB of a cottage. You are so blessed.

  22. Hi Erin! I am coming via Nancy's blog today to take a peek at your cottage reno! LOVELY! I love a good project too and we did the same to an average little brick house in Minneapolis. It's not average anymore!

    I will now go to continue the share over at Nancy's. Pleased to meet you! Anita


Comments are very much appreciated!
Thank you so much!