Decor & Renovation

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Photography by Janis Nicolay Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photography by Janis Nicolay

Decor & Renovation

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

The day my greenhouse came down was as emotional as the day I laid eyes on it. 
A wedding gift built by my husband, the little wood-and-glass structure served me well for 15 years. But thanks to a gang of burrowing moles and three befouling ducks it was beyond repair. What saved my heart from breaking was the promise of something new, something bigger and better that the entire family could enjoy.

So the greenhouse came down. In its place, tucked between the vegetable garden and chicken coop, a "green" house of a different kind—an outdoor art studio—was built from the wreckage.

Though fresh pressure-treated lumber was purchased for the foundation, the windows and most of the framing materials were salvaged from the old greenhouse. The large three-pane window came from my husband's soon-to-be-demolished childhood home; the front door and deck materials were donated by a neighbour. What wasn't close at hand—the skylight, cedar siding and insulation—was snagged from Craigslist for a song.

The studio took longer to build than a conventional kit-based shed, but the result truly blends in with its surroundings. It's not perfect or fancy, but that was never the goal. It's a place where my husband and I can take coffee breaks, crank music and enjoy overnight campouts with our six-year-old daughter, Lily. And Lily can go there to partake in painting lessons with her grandfather, be creative and make a mess. Basically, it's our summer vacation home—without the commute.

Slideshow

prev next 1 of 7

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Add your own artwork

My father is an artist, so I was bitten by the painting bug at a young age. Twice a year, he gives Lily and I art lessons. She would paint all day if allowed.

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Strip a sofa

Bought for just $100 at a secondhand store years ago, this old couch owed me nothing. I was about to kick it to the curb, but, on a whim, decided to strip it down. Once I saw the amazing frame and burlap lining underneath, I fell in love all over again. I threw in some pillows covered with linen—picked up at a Paris street market—and called this project a wrap.

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Embrace "as-is"

In keeping with the rustic surroundings, I decided not to refinish this salvaged pedestal table. Above, I hung an old wire-frame lampshade with twine— a decorative detail that doesn’t block the view (or light) through the corner windows.

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Accessorize with meaning

I was mindful not to clutter the studio’s meagre 144 square feet. From the pinwheels Lily and I made to the rocks on the windowsill, everything in the space has a happy memory attached. Most of the objects had been stored in closets or cupboards, just waiting for an opportunity to be displayed.

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Enlist help from family and friends

The most enjoyable part of building a space like this is allowing kids to help. Lily and my husband spent hours hammering and measuring (and sometimes remeasuring). I also gave Lily free rein with a paintbrush and roller. What could she do that I couldn’t touch up later?

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Add architecture

I was still smitten with these chippy yellow panels—cut from an old door and used as shelves in the greenhouse—so I hung them on either side of the main window. A broken ladder from the yard was brought indoors to serve as a drying rack for paintings.

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Use leftovers

The walls were finished with inexpensive plywood and painted pale grey. The result is light and airy, without detracting from the art. I had a bit more fun with the floor, making use of a punchy teal paint left over from a recent bedroom reno. It’s not proper floor paint, so scuff marks happen, adding charm to the space. Tropicana Cabana 2048-50 paint (on floor), benjaminmoore.ca. Behr’s Brook Green N410-2 paint (on walls), homedepot.ca. Choosing a paint colour is a common dilemma but choosing a paint finish is equally important. Home & Garden director Brett Walther shows you how.

By: Heather Cameron Source: Janis Nicolay Credits: Canadian Living


Spruce up your home's exterior with these 12 budget-friendly decorating tips.
                                               
This story was originally titled "Salvage Love" in the July 2014 issue.
           
Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Comments
Share X
Decor & Renovation

7 tips for building a summer home on a budget

Login