Not many people would think to turn a 1950s salon hair dryer into a floor lamp or a vintage metal soda-pop cooler into a bathroom sink, but it's these clever details that make Paul and Becky Walser's renovated summer home in the Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata such a unique, happy retreat. "Each room has some kind of twist to it, but all the twists blend together," Becky says.
After purchasing the 1,000-square-foot cottage two years ago, the Walsers enlisted designer Cathy Iverson, who has a knack for repurposing the unexpected, to help them create a colorful, recycled look. "And to fit all of our kids," Becky adds. (The Walsers have four boys and one girl.)
They reconfigured the layout, going for an open floor plan with clear views of Lake Minnetonka. For casual, lived-in style, they updated rooms with a mix of new materials, the family's favorite antiques from their old Wisconsin farmhouse and rescued pieces from antiques shops. "Think about using objects that are unexpected," Cathy says. "For little cost, you can add lots of character to your home."
The dining area echoes the playful, repurposed spirit in the rest of the home. A red tool caddy on top of a salvaged cheese-crate side table serves as a beverage bar during gatherings. Large casters elevate an antique farm table to counter height and make it easy to move. Becky tops the table with flowers in a metal laundry pail.
Becky couldn't resist hanging a vintage print that reads "Wallser" in the dining area--even though it adds an extra L to the family's name.
A vintage water filter fills a nook in the dining area.
In the living room, bargain chipped-paint furniture brings low-maintenance style, while one-of-a-kind finds take on new, fun uses: An enamel casserole dish becomes a flower pot; patchwork feed sacks cover a pillow on the sofa.
Upholstering vintage iron patio chairs with red-and-white feed sacks makes them indoor-ready. "Heavy upholstered chairs were going to be too much in this space," designer Cathy says. "These are visually lighter."
A salvaged postcard holder becomes an instant display area for family photos. A fun way to organize: Fill each column with photos from a different year or event.
To extend the colorful, vintage vibe to the kitchen, Cathy mixed salvaged pieces with modern stainless-steel upper shelves and appliances.
A rusty metal sign propped against the countertop-to-ceiling tilework takes the place of a traditional backsplash behind the range. Instead of another cabinet door, vintage fabric hung on a tension rod creates a curtain to hide supplies. A red cup dispenser mounted on the window frame lets kids quickly grab drinks. A rusty 6-foot iron gate becomes unexpected decor on cabinet fronts.
Becky's tiny galley kitchen gets bonus counter space from a marble slab on one end of the dining table, where daughter Ruby enjoys breakfast.
Instead of piling fruits in a basket, the Walsers save counter space by suspending a grocery scale from a ceiling hook.
French doors separate the master bedroom from the dining area. A window flanked by built-in bookcases takes the place of a headboard.
For creative molding in the kids' bathroom, Cathy applied yardsticks above corrugated steel wainscoting. To coordinate with the soda-pop-cooler sink, she mixed red and green sticks.
Scale hooks serve as towel holders in the kids' bath.
Vintage boat oars give custom bunk beds in the boys' room a lakeside look. Though beds are suspended by steel chains, framework below the bottom bunk prevents them from swinging.
The home's add-on porch extends living space.
DESIGNER Cathy Iverson (firstname.lastname@example.org; 612/850-8660).
THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE: Paint color (On first-floor walls) S3005-B20G. Fine Paints of Europe (800/332-1556; finepaints ofeurope.com). Vintage pieces Cathy Iverson (see Designer).
KITCHEN Backsplash tile Tile By Design, Plymouth Showroom, 1720 Annapolis Ln., Plymouth, Minnesota (763/551-5900; tilexdesign.com). Cabinetry Custom. Into the Woods (intothewoods.ca). Countertops Black soapstone. Affordable Granite and Stone, Hopkins, Minnesota (763/450-3700). Faucet Four-hole kitchen faucet with cross handles and sidespray, U.4775X. Rohl (800/777-9762; rohlhome.com). Range Viking (888/845-4641; vikingrange.com). Refrigerator 24-inch refrigerator/freezer, CS1360. Liebherr (liebherr.us). Shelves Stainless. Ikea (ikea.com). Sink 440233. Blanco Supreme 1 -3/4 reverse bowl. Blanco (blancoamerica.com).
BOYS' BUNKROOM: Bunk beds Custom design by Cathy Iverson (see Designer) and David Fick.