When we first saw the Freeman’s application for the Lowe’s Spring Makeover, we were immediately drawn to it. Although dark and dated, it felt warm and charming and there was definitely evidence that they had already poured their own sweat into the adjacent dining and tv room even though they had just moved in a couple months prior. So we knew they were go-getters. They hinted that this house had significant meaning to them, but it wasn’t until we were in their home, knee-deep in the makeover, that we were really able to get to know them and their story and realize how truly inspired this modern lake house makeover was.
I’ll get more into that in a minute, but here’s the space when we started. We arrived in Long Island late on Friday night, April 8th. We were originally hoping to stop in and at least take in the space a little bit that night (remember, we had never seen it in person), but it was very late by the time we got out of the city and after a day of traveling we thought we had better get our rest and start the day early Saturday. We worked for 20 hours on Saturday (from 6am-2am) and then slept and worked for a few more hours on Sunday before taking photos and catching our flight around 2pm. Making this a true 24 hour makeover. Here’s how it looks now:
It was a whirlwind 24 hours where the game plan quickly became EVERYONE GRAB A PAINT BRUSH! We had the help of 5 Lowe’s volunteers for that part and Chris and Ryan (the homeowner) tackled the fireplace area and built-ins, which was our main focus.
We repurposed the slate slab that was on the hearth of the old fireplace by removing it (luckily the mortar was really old and it came up pretty easy), demoing out the bricks underneath and then reattaching the slab to the ground using mortar. It really opened up the flooring and made the intersection of the fireplace and the built-ins possible. We popped off the old mantle and Chris started framing out the new design with 2×6’s.
Things always look worse before they look better, right? Right!? Before Chris added the MDF pieces on the front, I brushed the bricks with high heat Rustoleum paint in black. One of the issues the homeowner had with the previous fireplace was the white bricks always showed soot, so not only did the black bricks fit into the design we envisioned, they served a purpose, too.
One of the things we noticed in the before photos was they had wood stacked on their hearth, so when we planned for the built-ins next to the fireplace to fill that slanted wall, we also wanted to include fire wood storage on the bottom.
We had no idea the significance of those logs until the project was well underway. I was out picking supplies up with Jennifer when she shared the story of why they landed in this house and why those logs are so important to them. And with her permission, I want to share that with you. Her dad, a carpenter and very skilled perfectionist, passed away suddenly in an accident in 2009. Both Ryan and Jennifer had been mentored by him from a young age (and we can attest, they are both skilled DIYers). Birch was a huge part of his life, so when he tragically passed, the funeral florist wrapped all the arrangements with birch bark. Jen even relayed how the smell of saw dust still reminds her of him.
The following years after his death were extremely hard, and they eventually decided to pack up and move to Long Island for a fresh start. This house, the only one they looked at, was empty for a long time. When they walked in, Jen stood in the entry way just taking it all in. She glanced at the fireplace and there were 6 birch logs stacked. It was in that moment, she felt her dad was there and this was their home. They made an offer on the home and the only condition they requested, despited other repairs needed, was that the wanted the birch logs included with the home.
We feel so honored to have a small part in paying homage to those logs. The photo of Jen and her dad, dancing at their wedding fits right in on the built-ins, we painted in Valspar’s Coastal Dusk. The art above the fireplace is a photo I snuck away to take a couple blocks from their home. I sent it to Staples to have printed as an engineer print for less than $3
As for the rest of the space, I mentioned we pretty much painted everything. This view looking toward the front door received wall paint (Valspar’s Light Raffia), trim paint (off the shelf white from Valspar), door paint in a glossy black and we painted the radiator covers (in the trim paint), too, tossing on a few pillows to make them more like window seats.
Here’s how it looks now:
Painting all the paneling required two coats of primer (Kilz for the win!), followed by a coat of Light Raffia in the Valspar Reserve brand. It’s zero VOC, stain-blocking, paint and primer in one, really wipeable and our favorite paint at Lowe’s. When we were painting the MDF around the fireplace and built-ins, we just used it (without an additional primer) but we wanted to make sure none of the knots started coming through on the walls, so we took extra care by applying the Kilz to the paneling first.
We also swapped out doors, added baseboard and crown molding and an additional light fixture to the center of the seating space, while swapping out two of the fixtures that were in place: the dated chandelier in the hallway for this pendant that fit into the modern lake house aesthetic we were going for and the brass sconce on the back wall for this outdoor sconce (I’ve linked it at the end of the post).
One thing the Freemans were most excited about was removing the faux beam and partially paneled ceiling in the space. It really broke the room up, so we were happy to oblige. One of the Lowe’s employees used to do sheetrock and plastering work (how lucky are we!?) and he did an amazing job making that ceiling smooth.
While I didn’t have time to take proper photos until the afters, I documented the whole thing on snapchat (juliamarcum over there), saved it to my phone, and compiled all the short videos into one five minute video so you could see how it all came together over the course of the 24 hours. (I apologize in advance for the vertical, snapchat video format.)
The Freemans are an amazing family and we feel so fortunate Lowe’s gave us this opportunity to give this space a purpose and transform it into something they’ll enjoy for years to come.
A few more after photos!
1.Outdoor Wall Sconce 2. Piedmont 4-Light Antique Bronze Chandelier 3. Allen + Roth Pendant 4. Lamp 5. Valspar’s Light Raffia 6. Valspar’s Coastal Dusk 7. Mohawk Home Gray Woven Area Rug 8. Mirror 9. Mango Wood Stool10. All plants found at Lowe’s 11. Camel Leather Chair 12. Throw 13. Plaid pillow 14. Navy pillow 15. Champagne pillow 16. Green pillow 17. Striped pillow
What’s your favorite part? I’m still smitten with that fireplace makeover, but that area rug is so beautiful and such a steal, too!
All of our thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring this home remodeling project, the Freeman family for opening up their home to us and all of our readers for consistently rooting us on.