Northwest Indiana residents Paul Schwab and Stephen Warner faced a daunting task in updating what they call their "kooky cabin" in Michiana Shores, a summer resort area built in the 1920s and '30s for well-to-do Chicagoans.
"The house was built by a local craftsman named Josh who never used a plan," Paul says. So a gorgeous fieldstone fireplace was blocked by a staircase, first-floor ceilings soared to 15 feet but upstairs roof-lines were so low the windows touched the floor, and the only access to the porch was through a bathroom.
They embarked on an extensive rehab in 2005 with two goals in mind: bringing the old single-season home up to code and staying true to the neighborhood's architectural style.
Click through our slides to find out how these homeowners produced a stunning lakeside home that preserves the past with modern flair.
Michiana Shores is known for homes characterized by log facades, massive stone fireplaces and generous screen porches. "It's a look unique to this community, and we wanted to be in harmony with what's around us," Paul says.
Although they bumped out the master bath and dining area, the cabin's exterior looks remarkably like the original. But that changes one step inside the front door, where dark and rustic give way to light and sophisticated.
"We knew we wanted to lighten the whole thing up," says Stephen, an interior designer who created the English-cottage feel. Stephen set the cottage tone by painting all the wood paneling soft white.
At left, the cabin's great room after renovation. Instead of a skylight over the fireplace, the owners added a cupola with working windows.
This photo of the great room before renovation shows the dark paneling and limited light.
The decor includes something rarely spotted in cabins: pretty paisley and floral patterns on wallpaper, curtains, upholstered furniture, bedding and pillows. The muted color palette references the wooded landscape outside. In the foyer, paisley wallpaper adds unexpected sophistication.
Lots of windows and white cabinets keep the kitchen bright, even in the woods. Sliding (instead of swinging) French doors keep traffic paths clear.
Cramped and dark, the kitchen needed a total re-do.
To take advantage of natural light, the owners situated the dining room table in front of new soaring windows styled like the 1930s originals.
Natural materials with light finishes are used throughout the house. Here, a bamboo desk and twig chair fit neatly under a slanted living room ceiling. The painted plank walls and ceilings not only add texture and light but also highlight the rustic details.
The screen porch was enlarged to 20 x 20 feet for entertaining. The porch's new 18-foot-tall stone fireplace includes a raised hearth that's wide enough for sitting. A drop-leaf table behind the lounging sofa serves as a buffet or opens for sit-down dinners. Lightweight wicker chairs are easy to move.
A local Michigan artisan made the dramatic natural twig stair banister. Its pale, natural color fits the house's warm color scheme.
Matching wallpaper and bedding unify the snug master bedroom. Three landscape paintings by an Iowa artist stand in for a headboard under the eaves.
The remodeled master bath offers spa ambience with a soaking tub next to tall windows providing extensive views of nature.
Like the kitchen, this bath was tiny and outdated.
A bump-out bath expansion melds with the original architecture.
Stone pillars and split-rail fencing enhance the rustic setting.
A swooped portico mimics the entry's arched screen door.
Contrasting green trim and log-lattice porch railings add charming cottage character to this cabin's facade.
The lush setting was one of the cabin's attractions for the homeowners. They planted more trees, bushes and flowers on the half-acre property that was already blessed with towering pines.