Tag Archives: Lake Home

More paint tales

In high school art class, I painted a lot of landscapes. It was fun, and I was successful if success is measured by realism, but I’m telling you what: painting furniture is so satisfying!

Paint is great for covering a lot of boo-boos and bringing unity to a space. Paint is one of those things in life I have faith in. It works. And I used again in the entryway of our new condo.


This mirror has an unimpressive history. I found it, dusty and unloved, in the basement of the dinky little house we rented while we were renovating the church. It’s some sort of solid wood (pine?), but it had sort of a blonde stain. The look was a little too modern for the church. But it coordinates perfectly with the design in the doors of our condo (you can see the arched design in the reflection. So I painted it with the same greenish gray we painted our trim, and now it looks like it belongs here. Plus, the mirror lights and magnifies the small space of the entryway.

As a side note, in the reflection, you can see another way we worked “lake” into our theme.

art-key holder

We found a fish skeleton key holder at Hobby Lobby, and it is perfect for organizing all those keys.

Paint also came in handy to finish our laundry “room” (in the closet of the entryway).

The closet had only one, almost-impossible-to-reach shelf. So Tyler built a second shelf, and I painted both shelves the same color as the walls. Add a cute little “laundry” sign, and the whole space looks and functions better.

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh

Lake home decorating

When my Beloved and I renovated an old church into a house, I created a design template for us to use as we made decorating decisions so the end result would be cohesive.

It worked so well, I created one to use in decorating our new condo, too. (The marketing materials for this place call it a hilltop villa. “Hilltop villa” rings of sophistication and sounds like it belongs in Fiji or Italy, no? Our “hilltop villa” is indeed on a hilltop, but it’s in Texas, where words like “sophistication” carry different images).

Our theme was “lake home” decorated in “modern country.” I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes—I should be able to pull off “lake home.” All color roads in our design theme led to blue (or blue-green) like water. This narrowed our wall art choices from millions down to thousands.

Shall we have a look around?


Earlier this month, I shared an image of the living room oriented the other direction because we didn’t have our sofa yet. Well, it arrived a week ago, and it’s great for napping. Above it, we hung an abstract oil painting of a lake that I found at a consignment store. Between the art and the rug and the furniture, this room screams sand and water and sky.

Each bedroom has a different Austin, Texas-y theme.

art-king bedroom

In the first guest room, we went with a more literal lake. Tyler found this five-panel art work on Amazon.

art-king lamp

We chose a lampshade for this room that was vaguely nautical. TE broken porcelain lamp base reminds me of broken shells.


In third bedroom, the them is “Austin music scene,” still relying on a color story of blues. I found the guitar wall art on Wayfair. The clock on the other wall is actually a painted record album (remember those). We have grand plans to turn a couple of old bugles into lamps, but we haven’t accomplished that feat yet. This room is also my office; the bed is actually a murphy bed that folds up and out of the way.

art-office as office

Here’s how the room looks when the bed is folded up and I’m working in it (the living room wall art happens to be propped in my office in this photo, but it was temporary).

The room I’m most pleased with is the master bedroom, decorated in a Texas wine country theme.

art-master bed

Many wine themed items are red and purple, which didn’t fit with my color story. But I found the “Valentino” art for $6 at Goodwill so I made a canvas print to pair with it with an image I found on Shutterstock. Wine in a field of Texas bluebonnets—perfect! We found lampshades with French words on them (which is not Texas, but is sort of wine related). Check out those nightstands—furniture made with wine barrels!


Found at the same vendor, the circular wall art on the other wall is actually the top of a wine barrel, painted with an image of a vineyard that coordinates nicely with the bluebonnets.

art-toilet shelf

Also at the wine barrel furniture store, we found this shelving unit made from a barrel for above the toilet in the master bath. It’s very heavy, but if you know how my Beloved operates, you know it’ll never come down.

Art-wine chair

Coincidentally, Tyler found the perfect accent piece in the trash last week. Someone didn’t like this rusty old chair, but you know we love spray paint so the rust when bye-bye, and we have a place to take off our shoes in our bedroom.

Stay tuned. On Thursday, I’ll share a couple of other paint projects in the condo I pulled off recently.


Decorating on a budget requires magic potion

Craigslist + spray paint = pure gold

Before the pandemic ruled out discretionary travel, my Beloved and I spent a lot of time driving around the greater Austin area picking up amazing deals he found on Craigslist.

Some people might avoid Craigslist, what with its reputation for being sketchy, but my Beloved is 6-foot-3 with a mean left hook, so few places and people scare him. He’ll schedule a meet-up with just about anyone. We’ve never been ripped off or beat up using Craigslist (knock on wood), and in fact, he’s found some amazing stuff and we’ve met a lot of friendly people.

Firm believers in the trope that one man’s trash is our treasure, we haunt Facebook Marketplace, Goodwill and consignment stores, too. And this willingness to sift through a lot of junk to find the good stuff came in handy as we furnished our new condo. Our winter place had been a 355-square-foot RV, so we had almost nothing to begin with.

Our new place has a garage, which means we have space to spray paint, the magic potion of transformation.

deck chairs

Picnic paradise.

My Beloved found this picnic table set on Craigslist for $225. It was perfectly functional, but a little rusty. A couple coats of matte black spray paint, and voilà. As good as new.

The matte black looked so nice on the deck table, he employed it again for a little seating area on the back patio.

back deck settee

The view isn’t as spectacular, but the privacy is nice. 


Our up-north clock is peeking out from behind that 12-foot Christmas tree there.

We spied this set outside our neighbor’s camper at the resort where we stayed prior to our move. The back on the matching chair was broken off, and this table and chair had endured more rain than use in their lives. They were just sitting there, forlorn and unloved. We offered the neighbor $25 for the two functional pieces of the set, and he jumped at it. Now we have the perfect spot for a phone call and an afternoon cup of coffee.

Our dining room needed a big piece of wall art to fill the back wall. Initially, I shopped for an oversize clock, imagining the kind of piece we’d used in our great room back in Wisconsin, the sort of decoration of which Joanna Gaines would approve. This was too specific (or on trend) to find on Craigslist. And the new ones I found online were either too small or too expensive for my taste.

While perusing the oversize art pieces at Goodwill, I found a piece of filigree metal work hidden between pieces. The price was perfect ($15), but its golden color said 1990 to me. This time, my Beloved painted it in satin black instead of matte, and now it shines.

diniing room ornament

Satin black was this piece’s destiny.

I love how the wall ornament echoes the new light fixture in the dining room. Here are the pictures of the way the dining room looked before we bought it and after we redesigned it.

Sharp-eyed viewers might notice the centerpiece on the table. This beautiful piece was neither found on Craigslist nor spray-painted, but it’s the perfect accent on our table.

candle holder

This beautiful candleholder was handmade by my dad, a talented woodworker. I’ve bragged about his work making bookshelves in my previous homes. He works with smaller projects now, and he’s mastered the art of mixing woods in the details (can you see the seam down the middle there that matches the supports?). It coordinates with the eclectic mix of chairs we chose for the table, and I love it.



Back in the home improvement groove

When we visited properties late last year with our Texas Realtor, we entertained the idea of buying a fixer upper. After all, we knew we could pull off a project like that after what we accomplished with old church in southern Wisconsin that we turned into a home.

But memories of the dust, the mess, the back-aching work stopped us from buying an uncut gem. Instead, we settled on a condo.

As I shared last week, the condo still had more than its fair share of dust (click here for that story), but at least the electrical wiring and most of the plumbing is in operational order.

Still, the carpeting was horrifying, the kitchen backsplash ho-hum and the place hadn’t been painted in more than 15 years. Rather than take up those projects ourselves, my Beloved tracked down a couple of truly excellent contractors who swooped in the days after we closed to lay new flooring, install a new backsplash and paint every last thing from ceilings to trim. Ah, the power of paint!

Since before-and-after photos are so satisfying, I thought you might find our projects interesting.

condo carpet before

BEFORE: Wear and tear on the carpet was evident.

We replaced the tiling in the kitchen, entryway and bathrooms and the carpeting elsewhere with a luxury vinyl plank flooring, designed to be attractive and long-wearing.

condo flooring after


The tile looks like distressed wood with a mix of beige and brown and gray and black to coordinate with anything.

condo backsplash before

BEFORE: The former kitchen backsplash matched the tile flooring and wasn’t different enough from the granite countertops.

I hated the kitchen backsplash and briefly considered a sparkly tiny tile, but I shook off my Las Vegas fantasies and ultimately choose an almond subway tile.

condo backsplash after

AFTER: Kitchen backsplash. Ahh.

Originally, the walls were taupe and the trim was off-white, a very straightforward choice. The effect was drab.

condo living room before

BEFORE: This is how the living room looked on our first showing. The paint job was unremarkable (and the furniture was clunky and further boring).

After painting the entire church in one color scheme which drew attention to the architecture instead of the room colors, I knew I would do that again in this condo. I decided to switch the dark and light of the original paint job by painting the thick, beautiful trim a darker color than the walls. This had the added benefit of saving money on the paint job because we had the ceilings painted the same light color as the walls.

I adore the is-it-gray?-is-it-green? vibe of the trim color. It calls attention to the most interesting architectural elements of the room–the doors and windows. And the windows become beautiful frames for the view of the lake. The trim color is part of Sherwin-Williams Nurturer collection. It’s called Sensible Hue. That darker color on the wainscoting is Illusive Green. The walls and ceiling were painted in Oyster White.

As a lake home, the condo needed a calm and watery theme (rather than Spanish Revival or whatever was going on before). Heck, if a Minnesota Transplant can’t figure out how to outfit a lake home, who can?! These paint colors coordinate with the blues and greens of the furniture and accessories we invested in.

I’ll be sharing images of some of the rooms after they’re completely furnished, which we’re still working on. But here’s a peek at part of the living room.

condo living room after

AFTER: Now, that’s better!