Lakeside Cabin Makeover

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How one couple turned a run-down Georgia lake house into the retreat of their dreams.

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A Serene Location

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: A Serene Location
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

When Tom and Kathy Cotney purchased their lakeside cottage at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains three years ago, they knew it would take some work to get the feel they were looking for.

“If you could have seen it then, it was all kinds of nasty,” Kathy says, laughing. “The first-floor bath was outdoors.”

But the 2,500-square-foot house did have an enviable setting on the edge of Lake Burton—the largest of six lakes created by Georgia Power along the Tallulah River. Lake Burton is know for its great boathouses, and the Cotney's set out to make theirs a special family retreat.

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Deck with a View

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Deck with a View
Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Lake Burton's water is clear and fresh, filled from the mountains above.

“The house sits at the end of the road, down a long, private lane,” says Kathy, “so our dogs can run around without getting into much trouble.”

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Outdoor Kitchen

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Outdoor Kitchen
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

To better enjoy the view from their deck, the Cotney's added an outdoor kitchen to grill and entertain. Son Trey and bulldog Henry hang out near the outdoor kitchen when dad fires up the grill.

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Spacious Dock

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Spacious Dock
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Casual groups of chairs all around the Cotney cabin offer inviting spots to relax by the lake.

“When you’re up at the lake, you actually see your children," says Kathy. "It’s a great place to reconnect with family."

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Shower Bucket

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Shower Bucket
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

An outdoor shower station is right off the dock to clean off after a long day of boating. With a cut galvanized bucket hung over a showerhead, this outdoor shower is just as clever as it is convenient.

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Living Room

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Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

The Cotneys wanted both a lake cottage and a mountain cabin. With the help of designer Margaret Bosbyshell, they came up with a comfortable hybrid of charming architectural elements and classic Adirondack-style furniture. Dark wicker, black finishes, and rich fabrics look silhouetted against the crisp white backdrop.

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Kitchen: Before

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Kitchen: Before
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

“The interior was dark when we bought it,” Tom says. “When we started to lighten it up, it began to feel so much larger!"

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Kitchen: After

Eclectic Kitchen
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

The kitchen is in the same location but rearranged and updated. They also replaced windows and added French doors that open to screened porches.

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Dining Area

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Dining Area
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Kitchen-and-bath designer Craig Kettles was able to rearrange the hardworking kitchen on one end of the main living space, leaving ample room for a full-size dining table. The Cotneys gather at the farm-style table for casual meals.

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Reading Nook

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Reading Nook
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Kettles helped to make use of every inch. Under the stairwell, he designed a reading nook.

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Handrail Cleat

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Handrail Cleat
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Keeping true to their lakeside location, the Cotneys used a cleat at the end of the fun and inexpensive rope handrail.

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Bunk Room

Lakeside Cabin Makeover: Bunk Room
Photo: Laurey Glenn, Styling: Matthew Gleason

Kettles was able to innovate and turn a small upstairs room into a bunk room to fit more guests.

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