Rob Rafferty Construction

Froshblick Loft – A Winter’s Tale in July.

The most oft-asked question put to those of us that live here year round is  “What do you do all winter?” Sure, the days are short, skies are gray, temperatures are cold, and a lot of local businesses close for the winter. But we stay active with snow sports, we catch up with our families that get ignored while we work all summer, we enjoy cozy evenings around a fire and dinner with our friends, and here at Chimney Corners, we work on projects to make the next summer an even better experience for our guests!

Just a little of the white stuff.

Cottages that were built in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s (and some even older), need a lot of maintenance to keep them in rental shape. Sometimes, the issues are beyond a simple patch and fix – but we must pick and choose our projects only as money and time allow. 

Sometimes a project takes precedence when one small fix becomes a catalyst launching a major renovation. 

Ye old Froshblick Loft

In the case of our latest undertaking, Froshblick Loft, it started with a kitchen window. Saturday changeovers set a hectic pace. Cleaning and repairs may need to happen for up to 20 units, all within a 4-5 hour time span. In the process of trying to close a jammed aluminum window in Froshblick’s kitchen one Saturday in late summer, our maintenance man put his hand right through it. The quick fix was a plywood board and a note apologizing for our appearance to the incoming renters, but ultimately, the window would have to be replaced. And, since the existing windows were old, single-paned sliders original to the unit, it would have to be a brand new window, and not just the glass.

Kitchen – minus one window pane, plus plywood.

In order to make them match, we needed to replace all of them. When the resort closes at the end of October, we move our office up to Froshblick’s living room since the Lodge is impossible to keep warm in the winter. Those single pane windows weren’t much better! You could feel the winter lake breeze blowing right thorough them! The decision was made to replace those windows as well. And the renovations snowballed from there…(no pun intended).

New kitchen windows installed.
New Bathroom windows.
New living windows in progress.
Even more windows in progress…
New living room windows. Warmer already!

Once the window decision was made, we started to take a hard look at the rest of the unit. Built in 1964, Froshblick was also used as a winter residence for Mollie Rogers after Mary and Jim took over. The space over our laundry/garage featured knotty pine walls, a brick fireplace, and a kitchen straight out of the sixties, with green linoleum, a laminate table, formica countertops over painted wooden cupboards and very little storage.

Froshblick kitchen. Pre-renovation.

The bath was even more dated. A blue tub/shower combination sat in darkness, as lighting was also minimal, matching the oak laminate vanity and bargain mirror/medicine chest.

Froshblick bathroom. Pre-renovation.
Blue tub…eek!

The wall board used to line the hall was warped with temperature changes, and the industrial carpet, which is hard-wearing in a rental was worn almost through. The two steps down into the living area were makeshift blocks of carpet covered wood – not attached to anything! Although the carpeting in the living room was newer, it did have an unfortunate scorch mark from a careless iron mistake, conveniently covered by our heavier-than-heavy This End Up wooden furniture.

Froshblick living room. Pre-renovation.

While all of these things were certainly serviceable in a rental, and we are a “vintage” resort capturing the feel of the old family lake cottage, we knew that some things should be updated in order to give our guests a pleasant stay. 

“Some things” became many things, but each renovation decision was made with both updating in mind, as well as retaining our vintage character.

We started with walls. The warped wall board had to go and new cottage-y bead board was installed in both the hall and kitchen. Although knotty pine is very cabin-like and warm, it can also be a little dark when used throughout the entire unit.

Hallway in progress…
Other end in progress…

We decided to paint all of the bead board a crisp white, and the walls Benjamin Moore’s “Thunder”, a warm gray reminiscent of driftwood. The bedroom ceilings had been sanded and polyurethaned a few years ago, and they still looked warm, so we left those alone. But the living room, hall and kitchen were in rough shape and all needed sanding. Being tongue and groove knotty pine, this also meant there were miles of cracks to caulk and holes to fill followed by hours of sanding and priming!

Getting ready…

After days of this by three staff members, we also painted these white, albeit a flatter sheen than the walls. Talk about light and bright! All of a sudden, every room felt fresh and clean.

Lots of aching backs and shoulders here.

The bathroom walls were also torn out and replaced with bead board three quarters of the way up. But that remaining sliver of wall we painted a soft spa blue-green called SeaGlass. The bedroom walls seemed fine, but since we were painting, we wanted to freshen up everything. The Queen room was painted the same soothing color as the bath, but for the twin room, we added a bit more drama with a modern marine blue. It looks stunning with the natural wood ceiling and the white trim. The floor to ceiling windows keep it light enough, yet still warm and cozy!

What is the most important room in any abode? One could argue the kitchen and bathroom vie for that honor. Which means both needed a complete gutting down to the studs. 

First the kitchen: We already installed the floors and walls. Although it was a spacious kitchen with several (brand new!) windows on two sides creating a “treehouse” view of the frog pond and woods, it still needed a bit more storage space to replace an old metal microwave cart. The refrigerator was already bumped out into a niche. Since it was basically unused storage space behind that wall, we went ahead and created another larger niche to create a pantry, complete with handmade barn doors.

All this extra cupboard space freed up a spot to install a dishwasher! Although tiny, it’s perfect for a small family of four. We surrounded that with new bright white cupboards and replaced the “box” open shelf housing the glasses and dishes with modern industrial-type open shelves made from pipe and planks milled right here from our own trees! Speaking of, the old Froshblick had a laminate-topped table with vinyl chairs. We kept the table base, painted it, and used that same cherry wood to make a new “rustic” plank top, polyurethaned to keep the natural warm glow. Then we added some new modern feeling white metal chairs with natural wood seats. Add in some matte subway tile, new faucets, a new countertop, hardware and bright Fiestaware, and you now have a completely renovated kitchen that is light, bright, airy, and perfect.

Right next door, we have our dark, outdated bathroom with the refrain “Hey, 1960 called, they want their tub back!”

Bye-bye, baby blue…

Let’s just replace that tub with a custom tile job, classic white subway accented with green glass. Add in shiny new fixtures and an overhead light and wowza! No more dark cave of a shower! We kept our still-good commode, but we replaced the dated oak vanity and sink with a new pedestal, giving us more room. Storage was solved with more hooks and more open “rustic” shelves. Another light, bright and modern space!

Walls? Done. Ceilings? Check. What about the floors? Remember, these are rentals, which means your choices are limited to very hard-wearing surfaces. Also, ceramic tile can be too heavy for a second floor structure built in 1962. The living room was an easy decision – just replace the carpet with a neutral gray, although we opted for a thicker, more luxurious pile than the flat industrial version. What about all those renters tracking in sand and mud? We had some leftover 12X12 tiles in storage, so we created a small tiled area just inside the door. Add hooks behind the front door and presto! Instant mud area! 

The hall, kitchen and bathroom floors, made of three different materials, had to be ripped up. We chose a click together laminate plank that looks like natural gray boards. A couple days of sore knees installing were a small price to pay for the fantastic results! Waterproof and tough, this is a perfect, easy to clean option for high traffic areas. 

Lastly, we come to the main living area. Already stunning with the freshly painted walls and ceiling, new floor to ceiling windows and new carpeting, we still insisted on improving even more. The fireplace was wood burning, cozy, but messy. And the roof had leaked around the chimney, water staining the knotty pine walls. The damper was drafty, and chilly wind blew down it all fall and winter. The decision was made to replace it with a gas insert. But we didn’t stop there. We tore out the brick to repair the walls – and then we built a new surround, with modern large format tile, a custom painted mantle, and a poured concrete hearth, which made for a cute seating area to one side.

We ran out of time, but the plan for another winter project is to stain and seal the concrete later. Stay tuned for that installment!

Remember those two steps that weren’t attached to anything? We had new ones built – much more stable and solid. How about new interior doors throughout, and a new front door? Did we mention lighting? Yep, new lighting throughout the entire unit!

Once you have all new surroundings, it makes it awfully hard to put back the old furniture. Never let it be said that Mary Rogers does not embrace a renovation project 100%! She decided to get all new furniture from our favorite Betsie Bay Furniture. Our living area now boasts a new sectional couch, two new chairs, new end tables, pillows, lamps and art. We did re-purpose the old side table from the kitchen as a desk. With a fresh coat of paint and new accessories, it provides a welcome place to dash off a “Wish You Were Here!” postcard.

Maybe this was more detail than you asked for, but we love sharing our renovation projects. Right now, you’re asking us”Where are all the finished pics?!” We believe in Carly Simon’s motto…Anticipation!

Scroll on for the before and after pics! We’re still inspired and ready to tackle next winter’s project. What is it? I guess you’ll have to follow us on social media or sign up for our mailing list if you want to see more!

Enter…and be welcome!
Love the blue door!
Froshblick Kitchen Before….

After!
Wowza!

How about that bathroom??

After!
Bath

And so on….

Original Brian Confer Photographs

And onward to the bedrooms…

Twin room before…
After!
Queen room before…
Bye pink furniture!

And, of course, our relaxing living area…

Living room before…
After! Light and bright!
Before…
Until next time!

Historic Lodge Renovations…the Journey continues…

Last year you may remember our unplanned renovation of Room #4 in our historic Lodge. We were so pleased with the results and our guests were so enthusiastic about the redo, that we made a pact to pick one room per year to completely makeover. And when we say complete, we mean walls, floors, lighting, beds, dressers, linens, decor, and everything that goes in a room!

Room #4 Redo

Which brings us to Room #5. Once a double bed in a tight room at the end of the hall, it was still a bright and sunny room with two windows. As this room is on the “back” corner of the Lodge, it only permitted a small sliver of a view of Crystal Lake, and only if you were standing at the window. Nonetheless, it was a cozy room, and guests were not averse to staying there, if a little cramped. Next door, also on the back side of the Lodge was Room #6. Room #6 was furnished with two twin beds, also a tight squeeze and with only one window facing north towards the woods, could seem a little dark. The main complaint we got about 6 was “it’s just too small”.

Room #5 Pre-Renovation
Room #6 Pre-Renovation

What to do? You can’t exactly bump out the walls and create a bigger space when you are talking about the second floor of a historic 1910 construction. The solution? We merely knock out a wall and combine the two rooms! We no longer have a Room #6, but we have one heckuva Room #5. Officially known as a “suite”, our new and improved room features a California King bed (not as wide as a regular king, but longer – great for all you tall people out there) and a sitting area with a couch that converts to a pullout bed.

New & Improved Lodge #5 comin’ at ya…

We started with the overall gutting of the two rooms, knocking out the wall, and tearing out the old “wallboard” on the ceiling as well as the walls. We can thank the team of Rob Rafferty Construction for all the rough framing, the drywall, and the gorgeous bead board walls and tongue and groove ceilings. They also installed three brand new Anderson windows.

The same hardwood floor we discovered under the carpet when we redid Room #4 last year continued on into this neighboring room, so once again, Mr Natural Floors gave it a sanding and a coat of clear polyurethane. If you look closely, you will notice the floor boards run in opposite directions where the two rooms meet. All part of the vintage charm that still remains, even when we remodel!

What color to paint? Mary Rogers fell in love with the pullout sofa she discovered on sale at Betsie Bay Furniture in Frankfort (our favorite place to shop for all things furniture and accessories). It was a soft orange tweed, an unusual color for sure, but the inspiration for the eventual color choice of Sunset Boulevard. (Someday I want a job naming paint colors.) You might expect orange walls to be garish and harsh, but this orange is a soft tangerine that glows mellowly, brightening the room without overpowering the rest of the decor. Of course, it helps that all of the new bead board walls and trim are painted a crisp, warm white, named Chantilly Lace (again with the vintage overtones – it was fated to be!). Since the combining of the two rooms means there is now THREE windows, all new, with new pull down, cordless blinds, even though it is north and west-facing, it is one of the brightest, sunniest, most uplifting rooms we have!

Sunset Boulevard..perfect name!

Paired with Chantilly Lace white for airy perfection!

Throw in the finished floors, and now we are getting somewheres!

Speaking of Betsie Bay Furniture, it was also the place for our new California King bed and our spiffy new dresser and coffee table. Add in new, smaller “chat” table and chairs to the couch, and you have a cozy place to enjoy your morning coffee, or curl up with a book on those rainy, Northern Michigan days.

Mmmm…chocolate!

We completed our renovations with new lighting (and more of it), new art and new accessories. While our focus for the Room #4 renovation was cool, soothing grays, our goal for this makeover was to kick up the spirit of the room, and give it a warm, friendly and vibrant feel, while still retaining the character of our beloved Lodge. We are sure you will agree! Scroll on for the finished product and more information on renting Room #5 in our historic Lodge.

Sitting Area
Sleeper Couch
California King Bed
Twin Bed pullout couch

You can rent Room #5 throughout the summer by the night for $150 per night. In the spring and fall, your family of three can stay for just $90 per night! Book online, or give us a call at 231-352-7522. We’d love to hear your opinion! Also, if you’re in the area, we are having an Open House to show off our renovations in Room #4 and #5 on June 17th from 4:00-7:00pm.