My Lake House: Before & After



I moved to a little rental house in the summer of 2019 which was walking distance from two of my favorite lakes in Minneapolis. It was a 1170 sq ft duplex that needed a lot of elbow grease and came with a litany of small annoyances, so to reframe the challenge I dubbed it my “lake house”. It was like a cozy little cabin in many ways. My time was cut short, because halfway through my one-year lease, my fiance and I stumbled on a house listing that checked all the priority boxes, so we went for it. But in just a few months, I think I breathed some fresh style into my temporary tiny rental little lake house, so here’s a little tour.

Living Room

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This little picture was the only one in the real estate listing of the actual home. The other photos were of the front unit, which is much bigger and has a fireplace. When I saw it in person, it was clear why it was so affordable in a neighborhood that had previously priced me out.


I knew paint would brighten it up, so I tested out one of my favorites, Sherwin Williams On the Rocks (mocked up on the Sherwin Williams site above). Below is a photo I took before my boyfriend (now husband) and I painted it.


So much better! This photo is from when I quickly styled it to list it for sublet. My Christmas tree was still up, so normally that blue chair was on the other side of the room and the bookshelves were more cluttered. That chair functioned as the winter coat holding chair, but it is now back to just a sitting chair as my current house has a coat closet.


I love built-in bookshelves. This one was tricky with the weird angular trim and an oddly placed ugly smoke detector (behind the art), but here it is in real life.




That beadboard was faux paneling in poor condition. Painting it did make the awkwardly laid kitchen feel airier. I chose Sherwin Williams Pure White. I thought it would be white with a tiny touch of warmth, but it’s a cream. I hated it immediately. But it wasn’t worth repainting, as at the time I was behind schedule and over budget. I painted all the walls, convinced the owner to replace the broken stove, and scrubbed it much cleaner than the professional cleaners had left it. The trolley was a tea station. The wreath and garland were only up for Christmas. See the Marathi calendar on the wall? The kids have been practicing reading the numbers. In real life, there was a garbage can below that calendar, and the kitchen was so cramped and drafty that we only ate their together on Monday nights, which I declared as family dinner night. The living room would have worked better as a dining room, but the lower level rec room had baseboard heat, which I learned the hard way is a huge energy drain (shocking bill), so we mostly lounged on the main floor.




You can’t see it in the before picture, but the bathroom had a rotting cube cabinet and I replaced it. It took me 4 hours to put together that cabinet. I would have taken it with me but I have no need for it in my current home.




That bedroom actually had two twin beds in it, but I removed one to photograph it for the real estate listing because the two beds took up the literally the entire room. It was cuter in person and got great light and had a walk-in closet and adorable wall sconces. It needs to be painted (the baseboard and door trim is a peeling dark brown) and it was either freezing or boiling in there. When I was giving someone a tour, I said, “Of course, bunk beds would work better in here,” in an embarrassed tone. She said, “Well, it’s nice everyone has a bed, isn’t it?” in a gentle, sincere tone. It was a good reminder that most of the house stuff I fret about is frivolous. We are indeed lucky to each have a soft, clean bed every night.

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I'm Anna, and I love to create and recognize beauty at home and in heart. I share inspiring interiors and my Finnish-American lifestyle in Minneapolis, MN.

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