The Pros and Cons of Classic A-Frame Cabins

by Holly Welles

The A-frame house, in its purest form, is a triangle-shaped cabin featuring two steeply angled sides which usually begin at the foundation line and serve as the roof. While this style of home has been popular for nearly 100 years, they have become more mainstream in recent years, acting as vacation homes, cabins and even everyday living space for people around the globe.

However, if you’re considering moving into one of these homes yourself, you must first weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

The Cons

While A-frames have managed to remain popular for decades, there are a few downsides to living in such a house.

1. Unconventional Storage Space

For one, the storage space is a bit different from a typical home. Since there aren’t many vertical walls in an A-frame, space for installing closets and wardrobes is much more limited. So if you have a big family or generally need storage space, you may find it difficult to adjust to A-frame storage and living.

Since most space in the home is located at floor-level, you may have to lean towards dressers, floating shelves or other creative solutions for storing things.

2. No External Walls

Aside from the front and back walls, there are no external walls in an A-frame. And, typically, these walls aren’t really “walls” at all, since they either serve as windows or doors. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder — so some people may enjoy this design.

However, this can pose problems when you go to decorate. Sure, there may be plenty of wall space, but it’s on an angle. You’ll have to find new ways to hang photos, tapestries and other items.

3. The Roof

The feature that gives an A-frame its unique charm can also be one of its biggest downsides. The roof, which makes up nearly 100% of the home’s exterior, takes the brunt of hail, wind, sleet, snow and more throughout the course of its life. Of course, this often means more repairs and frequent maintenance.

However, roofers can’t step on the roof because it’s too steep. So they’ll have to consider alternative ways, like ladders or scaffolding, in order to repair or replace it. DIY-savvy homeowners may be able to perform some of their own maintenance on all that accessible roof space, however, provided the scaffolding is properly set up and secured.

The Pros

Although there may be downsides to A-frame homes, people are still drawn to them for a number of reasons.

1. Simple Build

One reason why A-frames entice homebuyers and designers alike is because they are so easy to build. If you’re a skilled woodworker or builder, you can construct your own home from scratch. And if you are new to building, you can still buy prefab kits or plans for constructing your own.

These plans are also easily scalable, meaning you can build a larger or smaller house if you wish. And since they’re generally cheaper and easier to build, many find the option attractive.

2. Scenic

A-frames make perfect vacation homes and many people have used them for such. Thus, many A-frames appear in scenic areas. Whether it’s in the middle of the woods or on the beach, this style of house evokes images of teepees and natural, minimalistic living.

Plus, it’s incredibly easy to install wall-to-wall windows at the front or rear of an A-frame house, allowing you to enjoy the scenery and natural lighting of your surroundings.

3. The Roof

Yes, the roof can be a nuisance at times. But the steep, dramatic sides are what makes an A-frame an A-frame. So, of course, this essential characteristic remains a positive one for many. The high ceilings, partnered with a wide-open floor plan, give the home a cathedral-like feel. Plus, with the correct window placement, an A-frame home can be filled with light most of the day, making the atmosphere bright and cheery.

Choosing an A-Frame Cabin

When it comes to deciding between a typical four-walled home or one shaped like a triangle, the choice ultimately depends upon you and your interests.

For instance, if you want a small but unique home with lots of windows and scenic views, an A-frame may be more your style. But if you require lots of storage space, you want to incorporate more decorative items or you simply prefer vertical walls, you may want to steer clear of these classic dwellings.


Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

Posted in Building and Renovation | 1 Comment

Tips for Snowy Winters at the Cabin

by Holly Welles

Winter months are hit or miss for cabins — you might find them packed with tourists or they could sit empty during the coldest months of the year. If you own a lake home or cabin, preparing for snowfall should be part of your annual routine.

Here are some tips and tricks to make winter snow management easier, especially for structures that might be empty during the cold months.

Close Up The Cabin for The Winter

If you’re not going to be spending the winter in your cabin, and it will stand vacant through the cold months, you need to close the property for the winter. This can take quite a bit of preparation, but you want to make sure that everything is ready to weather the cold without you.

This includes stowing anything around the building that might get buried in the snow — such as patio furniture, lawn equipment, barbeque grills, and firepits, just to name a few — and making sure your gutters are clean and ready to divert water away from your cabin and it’s foundation when the snow starts to melt in the spring.

Have Plenty of Snow-Removal Equipment

It can be hard to track when snowfall might occur, so it’s important to have plenty of snow-removal equipment handy in case you end up snowed in. This could include anything from an electric snowblower to a gas-powered model or even just a shovel to clear the walk and the driveway so you can get in and out of the cabin.

There are a few tricks that can help you push or plow snow with ease. If you keep getting stuck with your snow shovel, for example, spray it down with some cooking spray. The oil will make the shovel slide smoothly into the snow and make your job that much easier.

Look for a Reliable Snow Removal Service

Of course, if you’re not planning to head to your cabin frequently in the winter, it might be more cost-effective to outsource snow management altogether. While a friendly neighbor with a snowplow can be great, make sure your cabin is getting reliable care before you shell out any money.

Search for a local snow removal service or landscaping company to start. In the offseason, contractors often equip their heavy machinery with snowplows or attachments that can handle large volumes of snow with ease. You’ll rest easy knowing the next blizzard will be cleaned up efficiently.

Be Ready for Snow on the Roof

Depending on where your cabin is located, you can often expect to find several feet of snow piled up on the roof during the cold winter months. This is to be expected, and northern roofs are designed to stand up to the excess weight, but that doesn’t mean that you can neglect them year in and year out without consequences.

Take the time to inspect your cabin’s roof each year before the snow starts to fall to ensure that it will stand up to another winter of punishment.  Having enough insulation and proper ventilation can help prevent ice from forming on eaves and overhangs that could create a weight problem for the roof.

If you get a lot more snow than rain, and a lot of the fluffy white stuff builds up on your cabin roof, forego gutters.  A chunk of snow sliding off can rip them off the roof and take some shingles with it.

Enjoy Your Winter Wonderland

Whether you’re spending the winter at your cabin or not, once the snow starts to fall, all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy your winter wonderland, secure in the knowledge that you have all the tools you need to manage the snow at your fingertips.

Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.


Posted in Maintenance | Leave a comment

The Most Popular Architectural Styles for a Lakeside Cabin

by Holly Welles

Lake Home plans come in many shapes and sizes to ensure its functionality meets your design preferences. Whether you’re designing your year-round lake home or a vacation home, you have plenty of options to choose from.

So, what exactly are the elements of the perfect lake house? What makes them so special, and why should you consider them before you begin your home-buying process? Check out the top five most popular architectural styles for a lakeside cabin to learn what’s trending in lakefront properties.

1. Log Cabins

Nothing is cozier than a warm fire in a log cabin in the woods. While log cabins were traditionally small and difficult to manage, new structures provide spacious and elegant designs while maintaining the classic feel.

These homes are constructed from logs that have not been converted into framing lumber. You can even modernize your log cabin home to include a garage, vaulted ceilings and other amenities — perfect for any family vacation on the lake. Options like these are sure to perfectly fit your design needs as you blend the feeling of the days of the frontier with modern amenities and trends.

2. American Craftsman

The American Craftsman model — also referred to as the Arts and Crafts movement — combines many different styles into one unique home. You can choose from either a traditional or modern home plan to meet your preferences and functional needs. Additionally, the design comprises natural materials that are both highly durable and economically sound.

Their impressive detail makes American Craftsman models perfect for your lake home, where it will shimmer in the reflection of the lake. You’ll surely make a statement in your neighborhood with one of these American classics. After all, what’s more American than different styles coming together to form one unified structure?

3. A-Frame

Perhaps the most impressive style that’s currently trending in lake home design is the A-Frame house plan. This triangle-shaped home offers many benefits that lakeside dwellers across the country enjoy. For instance, the steep pitch in its roof helps with snow removal. Beyond snow, its unique design can withstand any weather conditions it faces, making it the perfect style for a year-round home.

Most designs come with a second story to provide more space for a loft or storage. And, A-Frame houses are easy to build and require minimal maintenance — after all, when you spend time vacationing on the lake, the last thing you want to worry about is regular house maintenance. With its stunning detail and ability to be personalized to your exact requirements, the A-Frame home is truly an American classic.

4. Cape Cod

The Cape Cod design, which hails from New England, exudes tradition and comfort. You’re likely familiar with many of the style’s most indicative features, including the steep, pitched roof, stately chimney, dormer windows and sturdy shingled siding.

Since the home’s shingle style is typically weathered to provide a natural look, it is a particularly popular option for lake homes. Big windows and open floor plans add to the flow of the home’s modern interior without sacrificing its classic American exterior appearance.

Cape Cod homes can make a statement even outside of New England, and you can have yours built in any size to accommodate your and your family’s needs.

5. Cottage

Cottages offer some of the coziest, most romantic vacation home plans. Versatility is the main factor that makes this style such a perfect option for your lake house. Traditionally, these homes were small with gabled roofs, an arched entry and brick walkway. Now, you can create a personalized look that reflects your character.

For example, features like balconies or porches give you the most out of your lakefront property. Depending on the house plan you choose, cottages can also be extremely budget-friendly, meaning you can still have a special place to vacation with your family without breaking the bank.

Despite their reputation for being relatively small, modern cottage homes can be customized to your size and style preferences.

Choose the Lakeside Home of Your Dreams

With so many timeless styles and add-on options out there, the architectural world is your oyster when choosing your lakeside cabin. Take inspiration from these five most popular options and choose the one that best suits you and your family. Then, enjoy a one-of-a-kind vacation home for generations to come.

Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

Posted in Building and Renovation | Leave a comment

What You Need to Know About Building a Lake Home

by Holly Welles

Building a home can be a great alternative to buying. You get increased control over customization and pricing, and you can create an efficient construction from scratch instead of retrofitting an old house. Plus, you witness your personally curated design come to life. Watching your dreams come to fruition is undeniably satisfying.

You’ve set your sights on constructing a waterfront home, and who can blame you? They’re pinnacles of serenity and beauty. However, building on the lakefront offers a different set of guidelines from a regular home.

Know what the process entails before diving in. You’ll have greater confidence in tackling your goals when you understand the details.

1. Choose a Waterfront Property

Obtaining a waterfront property is a contrast from choosing an inland lot. Your municipality might dictate the distance your house must be from the shore. Ensure your chosen property is available for construction and have it checked for septic tank placement, soil condition and erosion history.

Your inspector will inform you of flood plains, septic tank drainage plans and the ordinary high water mark (OHWM). The OHWM tells you where you can place your home to prevent water damage or erosion. The local climate will also determine the building’s quality and the materials you’ll use.

Consider the lake itself — is it safe for swimming and fishing? You don’t want to set your heart on a property only to find the water isn’t suitable. Check with your local health department about the water quality and keep an eye out for restrictions on boats or wave runners.

2. Find a Builder

When searching for a builder, look for reviews from other homeowners. Waterfronts require unique expertise, which means you’ll need a builder to match those standards. An excellent contractor will know how to build on a lakefront lot with efficiency and wisdom.

Building your perfect home will require someone who’s understanding of your vision and open to design modifications. They’ll figure out how to situate your bedroom, kitchen or living room with the best lake view without compromising quality or integrity. Conduct extensive research before making a decision — check their permits and industry association memberships.

3. Consider the Costs

Your home’s structure — as well as the materials you use — determine how much you’ll pay to build it. Solid materials like granite and real wood cost more, but they also have a long lifespan.

The upfront price makes the investment worthy if it saves you from doing maintenance for the next decade. Large homes will naturally be expensive, but pricing can vary depending on the shape. Square houses, for example, tend to be cheaper because they require fewer materials.

The key is to avoid stretching your budget to where covering costs becomes difficult. Downsize or eliminate additions if necessary. It can be easy to get caught up in possible frills, but these are often elements you can incorporate down the road.

4. Plan the Design

The terrain will play a part in your home design. Builders typically advise you to avoid areas prone to erosion or with unsuitable topography. You’ll likely want a view of the water from various rooms, meaning you need an accommodating design.

Then, there’s residential factors to consider. Choose a plan big enough for your family and potential guests, especially if you often have people over.

Living near the water doesn’t mean you have to choose the standard coastal look. Experiment with a range of designs to discover one that fits best. You might opt for an all-glass home, a cozy cabin or a Mediterranean style abode. Whichever plans you select should embody your favorite elements while considering the location.

5. Check Building Codes

You’ll need municipal approval and a permit before you begin building. Every city has its guidelines about what homeowners can and can’t add to their properties. Some rules are specific, while others are vague.

It’s best to contact your town officials to clear up any confusion you might have about restrictions. You don’t want to plan for numerous additions — like a balcony or sunroom — only to find out they don’t adhere to construction codes.

Research your local zoning requirements. These dictate where you can build and how much land you can use. Zoning laws cover residential, industrial and commercial buildings, and each type has unique limits and permissions. Expect to see guidelines on building length and width, including the placement of garages or driveways.

6. Conduct Inspections

Inspections are a major part of any home buying or building process. You and your inspector will conduct several types during construction, including a foundation and drywall check.

An inspector will examine the home’s structure before the builders pour the foundation, ensuring the woodwork is sturdy. A drywall check consists of plumbing and electrical inspection, and it occurs before they construct the walls.

Accompany your inspector on each of these trips to review the process. You can catch problems early and avoid worrying about them later. Make design changes before your builders complete structural components.

How to Construct Your Perfect Lake Home

After reading this post, your ideal waterfront is a step closer to reality. You’ll have a better understanding of how the process works and what to account for concerning expenses and labor.

Find a builder, draw up your plans and start constructing your future waterfront property.


Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

Posted in Building and Renovation | Leave a comment

The Cabin Comedian

Laughter truly is the world’s best medicine and this year’s Lake Home & Cabin Show guests are in for a full dose!  Get ready to meet the “Cabin Comedian,” Tom Crowl — a high-energy comedian and ventriloquist who brings more than 30 years of professional entertainment experience into each new performance.

A rare talent, Tom is often recognized from his appearance on NBC’s Last Comic Standing as well as his performances at corporate events, associations, theaters, cruises, and casinos and resorts from around the world.  Tom has been the featured opener for celebrities including The Drifters, Chubby Checker, Rodney Atkins, The Marvelettes and The Diamonds.  Known for his customized comedy, razor-sharp improvisation and total audience participation, Crowl packs non-stop laughter into each of his unique performances.

He is a published author, podcaster, the executive director of the International Ventriloquist Society and is the creator of the first virtual ventriloquism course titled: Learn-Ventriloquism. His act has been captured on DVD in Tom Crowl Alone Again Un-Naturally. Tom’s early influences include Señor Wences of Ed Sullivan fame and the comedic performances of Steve Martin and Robin Williams.

Tom Crowl and his hilarious duck “Dangerous” will be appearing daily on the Northwoods Stage.  Performance times are 4 & 6 p.m. Friday, noon, 2 & 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. & 1 p.m. Sunday.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Make Your Cake & Eat It Too!

Presented by Chef Patrick Moore, the “Getaway Gourmet”

Chef Patrick Moore, the show’s very own “Getaway Gourmet” from Brule, Wisconsin is bringing three of his favorite dessert recipes to the cooking stage this year!  As always, his unique cooking presentations combine great award winning flavors with his own belief that cooking at the cabin can be a wonderful experience that doesn’t have to take all day.  “You came to the cabin to relax with family and friends,”  Chef Patrick said, “I’m going to teach you how to make memorable meals and still leave time for play.”

This year’s “Darn Good Desserts” recipes include;  Mixed Berry Shortcake with Chantilly Cream, Piña colada Pineapple Napoleon and Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Cream.  Free recipe cards and “Darn Good Dessert” samples will be served!  Cooking demonstrations will be presented a number of times each day.

Friday – 3, 5 & 7 p.m.

Saturday – 11 a.m., 1, & 3 p.m.

Sunday – noon & 2 p.m.

Posted in Chef Patrick Moore, Entertaining & Recipes | Leave a comment

5 Signs of Water Damage in a Lake Home

by Holly Welles

Lake homes and cabins are wonderful investments. Like any property, however, they need some care and maintenance to stay in pristine condition. Plus, for these lakeside getaways, the risk of water damage is more present than it may be for your primary home.

Fortunately, a keen eye and regular inspection can help a homeowner identify issues as soon as they arise. If you detect any of these signs of water damage in your lake house, act quickly or consult a professional to mitigate the source of unwanted water in your home.

1. Damaged Roofing

A damaged roof can impact your lake home’s insulation, let in moisture and make your home susceptible to major water damage. While a property needs a roof replacement every decade or so, your roof also requires upkeep — especially in a lakeside setting. How can you check that your exterior is in order?

Flashing is waterproofing that roofers install at the intersections or ends of your roof. If these appears damaged, it means the sealing is broken and water is likely to seep through. You can also check your shingles. Missing, damaged or moldy shingles indicate a water problem that you need to take action on before moisture makes it further into your home.

2. Unusual Stains on Walls

Your walls and ceilings can provide useful visual clues that something is amiss. Water damage may create stains or even streaks of discoloration. You should especially check around door frames and windows for telltale stains around your home’s openings.

There are several possible culprits behind these signs of water damage. Your lake home may have a leaky pipe, condensation in the walls or a poorly waterproofed building envelope. It’s important to call in an expert to identify the water source before your walls get worse.

3. Floorboard Problems

Hardwood flooring is a luxury pick for a vacation home, and you’ll want to do your best to protect this investment. Unfortunately, this material is also susceptible to moisture, so it’s crucial to keep a careful eye out for signs of water damage in a lakeside property.

Your hardwood flooring will show a few easily identified signs of water damage. Floorboards may be buckled if water has seeped into the subflooring, which means they will separate or peel upward. Or, excess moisture may cause floorboards to crown upward in the middle. Lastly, keep an eye out for mold and discoloration.

4. Caulking Issues

Pipes are frequently the cause of water damage in homes, and your lake house is no exception. Take the time to regularly check on the pipes in your kitchen, bathroom and other crucial locations, like a laundry room.

Besides obvious mold or wetness, a telltale sign of leaky piping is loose or missing caulking. This happens because water seepage wears away at caulk and grout, creating an important visual cue for homeowners.

5. Unpleasant Smell

This final step is the most visceral, but it’s a dead giveaway that something is amiss. Let your nose guide you while inspecting each of the above parts of your lake home. Standing water and mold will create an unpleasant musty smell.

First, identify and treat the underlying source of the water damage. Then, you’ll want to disinfect the space to prevent the odor of mold from tarnishing your lake home. Clean all damaged surfaces by mixing one gallon of water with one and a half cups of bleach. This will stop mold growth and let you bounce back more quickly.

How to Detect Water Damage in a Lake House

Moisture can access your home through various routes, so it’s often hard to prevent every issue before it creates damage. Lakeside property owners know that a life by the water also comes with certain maintenance responsibilities.

Fortunately, most issues can be mitigated without massive expense. A watchful eye and an alert nose will help you identify problems quickly and schedule maintenance before mold, stains and other telltale signs have a chance to fully take hold of your vacation home.


Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

Posted in Building and Renovation | Leave a comment

How to Design a Rustic Kitchen for Your Lake Home

by Holly Welles

Waking up in the morning, throwing back the curtains and seeing the water — that’s why you bought your lake home. As such, you want your house to pay homage to its rustic surrounds by designing a kitchen that fits with the landscape. Country style always goes well with a house set amid the beauty and warmth of nature.

Of course, decorating a space so that it evokes a theme isn’t always easy. To make the process easier, here are six tried-and-true tips for designing a country kitchen that’ll fit right into your lake home:

1. Choose Colors Wisely

You don’t want your country kitchen to be too boring, nor do you want it over the top. So, you must be smart about the color palette you choose. Most country kitchens have white as the focus color, but they branch out with subtle accent shades.

For instance, you might choose a white stone for your countertops while opting for cabinets painted in a more saturated hue. You could also choose colored appliances or backsplash tiles to give your space that country feeling.

Are you unsure what your accent color of choice should be? Fortunately, design experts have already pinpointed what will be next year’s trendiest shades. The Pantone color report for 2020 inspire your choices if you don’t already have a hue in mind.

2. Swing for the Farmhouse Sink

When it comes to country kitchen must-haves, you can’t design any such space without a farmhouse sink. The apron-style basin looks as if it drapes over the front of your cabinets, creating an eye-catching design feature. Plus, it’ll be large enough to handle all the dishes that family gatherings and parties generate.

Most of the time, farmhouse sinks come in shiny white porcelain, but you might be able to find different materials or colors to suit your kitchen’s style.

3. Furnish With Classic Pieces

A stainless steel fridge with a touchscreen monitor on the front may look cool in a modern kitchen, but that’s not the look you’re going for in a country-style lake house. You might want to consider purchasing appliances with more traditional styling instead.

Then, think about your table, chairs and other crucial kitchen pieces. A classic farmhouse kitchen usually has a long, welcoming table. This might be the perfect choice if you’re fond of guests and love the idea of serving family-style dinners.

4. Consider Traditional Styles

Next, consider the textures present in your kitchen. Classic elements of country style include distressed wood, lace and wicker. You can seek out lace table runners for your farmhouse table or hunt for chair cushions made with gingham. Wicker side tables or baskets can serve as useful storage while contributing to the classic look.

You can dress up more than the kitchen table, too. Copper cabinet pulls or faucets will help your kitchen hardware look more country. These accents also help make your kitchen feel warmer and more welcoming.

5. Dress It Up With Antiques

The whole point of country design is to make your home feel cozy and lived in. Even if your lake house kitchen is brand new, you can make it feel just as rustic and warm as you want with some careful decoration.

One way to accomplish this is to decorate with antiques. Pick up a wall clock, knickknacks, art or any other item that screams “country kitchen” to you. This is a great opportunity to check out local antique shops and find great, classic pieces at bargain prices.

6. Display Your Dishes

On a similar note, a country kitchen isn’t meant to look pristine and perfect all the time. Instead, create a lived-in aesthetic that’s perfect for the heart of your lake home. No need to hide away all your dishes, glasses and other culinary accouterments. Instead, find ways to display them in your kitchen.

For many country kitchens, this means swapping a few upper cabinets for open shelving. You can artfully stack some dishes, bowls and glasses on these tiers. Plus, it’s an easy DIY project for handy homeowners.

Or, you could swap out cabinet doors for a glass panel, which will also show off your stacked wares. There are plenty of ways to get creative — you could install hooks from which you can dangle your coffee mugs. The same goes for your pots and pans, oven mitts and any other kitchen tool that you want to display.

Country Style in Your Lake Home Kitchen

The kitchen’s the heart of the home, and your lake home is where your family loves to gather and make memories together. With the above tips, you can transform your space into a cozy country kitchen, the perfect backdrop for the unforgettable moments that are sure to unfold at your lake house for years to come.





Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

Posted in DIY & Renovation | Leave a comment

How to Increase Your Cabin’s Value on a Budget

By Clint Whitworth

Ah, the cabin in the woods — or by the lake. Some of us are fortunate to have that little piece of paradise. Often cabins don’t get the level of care a full-time home does because they’re used part-time and are intended for chilling, not working. But if you’re putting your getaway on the market, you want it in the best possible shape to move it quickly and get the best price.

Here are some things you can do to make your cabin appealing to potential buyers – and they won’t break the bank.

1. Clean it up

Cabins are made for relaxing and casual living, but that shouldn’t translate into leaving a mess. Clean it thoroughly inside and out. Clear the grounds of rubbish, weeds, and the other things that can accumulate at a part-time house. Just as you would if you were selling your home in town, keep the property mowed and trimmed. You’ll be amazed at how much grime a properly set power-washer will remove from exterior walls. Be careful not to set the pressure too high or to blast away indiscriminately — you could do more harm than good, especially on an older log cabin. If not a pressure-washer, find another way to clean it up. Nothing turns off a potential buyer more than the thought of facing a heavy clean-up before they can enjoy their new cabin.

2. Fix it

Repair leaking faucets, pipes, showerheads, etc. Make sure everything works — water, gas, electricity. Replace outdated fixtures with new and better lighting. Bare bulbs with a string are a little too primitive for most people’s tastes. Replace dirty grout in the kitchen and bathrooms and make sure all cabinet doors open and close properly.

Fresh paint can make the difference between rustic and shabby. If you have natural wood, either outside or in, give it a fresh coat of stain. It’ll freshen it immensely. Apply the right kind of stain — interior for inside and exterior for outside. Use natural bristle brushes and apply over three or four boards at a time. Don’t stop until you reach a natural breaking point, such as a corner, door, or window. Stopping between will leave ugly lap marks. If you have a deck, clean and stain it, then apply a sealant.

4. Windows and doors are important

Hopefully, you washed the windows during your clean-up phase. Replace any broken panes and rusted, torn, or sagging screens. Better yet, replace old windows with new energy-efficient ones. Front doors make a huge initial impression on buyers, so give it a fresh coat of paint or replace it with a new one that fits your cabin’s motif.

5.  Stage it

Your real estate agent can help you stage your cabin to maximize its appeal through proper placement of furniture and rugs and artwork. De-clutter the interior. Would-be buyers are not interested in personal knick-knacks, family pictures, or grandpa’s mangy old moose head over the hearth. Staging on decks, patios, and other outdoor living areas is as important as the interior. Attractive landscaping is a must! Potted plants in a variety of containers are always a winner inside and out. The idea is to make your getaway inviting and homey when a potential buyer walks in.

Even if you’re not planning on selling right away, following these tips will make your oasis more comfortable for your family. It will also give you less to fret about when the day comes to say goodbye to your little slice of nirvana.

Clint Whitworth is a retired real estate agent who alternates spending time between his cabins in Colorado and Wisconsin. He enjoys fishing, hiking and growing an eco-friendly vegetable garden on both properties.

Posted in Real Estate | Leave a comment

What Are the Challenges of Landscaping a Lake Home?

By Tanya Mayer

Living by the water might sound like a dream for many homebuyers, but once you secure a water-side property, there can be plenty of roadblocks to overcome. Given the proximity to nature, not all of them will be easily manageable, either, but the draw of lakefront living may well make it all worthwhile.

The Challenges

Even the most beautifully-manicured lawn is prone to the occasional weed, and in any ordinary yard you might just grab a bottle of pesticide, but living by the lake comes with extra layers of responsibility. There are many pesticides that, when introduced to the water, pose dangers to aquatic life, so you’ll need to consider other methods of removal. Mulch is great for preventing clovers, while nettles can be carefully removed by hand, and your lawnmower will help put an end to soursop growth, but identifying and removing weeds like dandelions without pesticides might be a job for a professional gardener.

Even once your lawn is in spectacular condition, one of the biggest threats to any lakeside property is the potential for flooding and erosion. There are several options for keeping your shoreline sturdy, including sand, but riprap is the only trusted method of preventing erosion in the long-term.

If you intend on landscaping near the water itself, you may need prior council approval before any plans go ahead, as any significant changes you make are likely to impact the lake’s ecosystem. 

Working around the wildlife in your backyard is another potential concern, especially in areas that are home to protected species. Therefore, it would be wise to read up on the range of animals that share your yard. 

You’ll also need to be aware that as you get closer to nature, the likelihood of coming across dangerous animals increases. Freshwater lakes and their surrounds can be occupied by a number of somewhat panic-inducing species like electric eels or Goliath birdeater tarantula, and then, of course, there are the bugs.

 A range of insect species, including the humble mosquito, breed on the water, so unless you’re prepared to be eaten alive during the breeding season, you’ll need to explore methods of keeping pests at bay. Whether you decide to opt for insect-repelling candles, sprays, or nets, remember that the condition of your garden and what you choose to plant in it will, to some extent, determine the types of pests you have hanging around.

The Benefits  

There’s no doubt that one of the most universally attractive things about living by the lakeside is the view. By starting with views of the water, you can add instant value and ultimately set your property up at the luxury end of the market. Taking advantage of your outlook could be as simple as extending your living quarters beyond the home with an outdoor furniture set. 

Once you have that prized outlook, privacy is the next logical consideration, and it’s easy to understand why. Some level of seclusion is crucial to creating a feeling of comfort in your home, and being by the lake automatically eliminates any possibility of new neighbours moving in directly across from you (or next to you). This will leave you with plenty of space to enjoy unlimited access to the water, whether it be for swimming, boating, or any other kind of aquatic activity. You might even like to accentuate this feature of your yard by installing a path from your front door to the water. 

Proximity to the water and trees also means you’re likely to spot all kinds of wild creatures living around your property. If you give your landscape due consideration and select your plants with care, you’ll be able to maintain – or even improve – the conditions for native animals, and enjoy having them visit your yard. 

If you have done your research on the pros and cons and still have your heart set on the lakefront lifestyle, then there’s nothing stopping you from getting to work with the toolkit and turning your outdoor oasis into a haven for native wildlife and human visitors alike – just don’t forget the bug spray!

Tanya Mayer is a blogger from Brisbane, Australia. She is interested in writing on various topics relating to family, home and home improvement.

Posted in Landscaping and Gardening | Leave a comment