Design & DIY

Things we love about the cottage: Small projects


When I talk about my cottage, sometimes I’m forced to be honest and admit that it’s just a bunkie. And when I’m being really honest, I have to say that it’s actually just a shack. When I’m being even more honest, I concede that it’s an 8’ x 12’ shed kit from a hardware store.

But I love my shed. And one day, it’s going to be the nicest shed in all of Haliburton.

My only real request was flooring. But, in the way that only a “small” cottage project can snowball out of control, my simple complaint about the floors turned into a full shed makeover.

The inside of my cottage was just plywood, exposed beams (a.k.a. 2” x 4”s that went across the room a little too low for anyone over 6’ tall) and even a piece of tree that got caught between boards when my dad put the roof on. Mainly I wanted to be able to sweep or mop the floor so that the inside floor was distinguishable from the ground outside. I swear, this is the only thing I asked for.

But no project is ever that simple. We went to the hardware store and bought some flooring. Those boxes of flooring would sit under the bed, taking up premium space, for two years.

Before we put down the vinyl peel-and-stick, my partner decided we really should put up some Aspenite walls to hide those charming 2” x 4”s.

My partner (who stands about 6’1”) felt the beams were going to be a problem for him, so we should raise them before we put up walls. This also resulted in his first major power tool purchase, a very exciting and joyful event for him.

Before the walls went up, it seemed prudent to also wire for the electrical we planned to eventually install. This required going home and doing research on the internet to find out what wiring we would need and how to run it, then buying electrical supplies and running the wires.

Since we were bothering with walls, we also decided that we should seal the cottage to keep some bugs out (this happened during the awful time we refer to as “The Year the Dock Spiders Left the Dock and Invaded Cottages, Much to Everyone’s Terror”).

Since we were sealing to keep bugs out, it certainly made sense to get a screen door so that the ins and outs didn’t let so many bugs in. So we bought a screen door to put up.

Because the screen door was new and needed to be stained, we got stain for the door.

Since we had the stain out and were already in our painting clothes, it seemed like a good idea to stain the porch and the soffit and fascia to match. And we might as well try to hide the places where the porcupines had decided to snack on the side of the shed with a bit of stain and some wood patches.

With the porcupine toothmarks covered up, it felt like a good time to staple some chicken wire to the outside to keep the porcis from doing more damage.

Once the screen door was up and we realized how much we enjoyed the view out the front of the shed, a new window looking out on the lake also seemed like a good idea. Out came the circular saw, some new screen, and a makeshift window trim.

At long last, we were finally ready to put up the walls. My partner got out the power tools. I got out the paint.

Finally, after two full summers of labour, sawdust, paint fumes, and step ladders, I put down my flooring. I like everything we did over those two years. It’s nice. But boy, do I ever love my floors.