Lake House Renovation: One DIY Project at a Time

lake house during renovation

We enjoy DIY home improvement projects because we enjoy learning and improving our home. We hope that our lake house renovation and other DIY home improvement experiences show you how to improve your home.

Exterior House Pictures BEFORE and AFTER

The street side before and after

The lake side before and after


In March 2011, we purchased our lake house; it was a foreclosure. Our lake house was originally just a weekend place, but now it is our permanent home. In 2013, we renovated the existing house and built an addition. We employed a contractor for the major part of this construction and some of the renovation; however, we have done several major DIY home improvement projects since 2013 and improving our house remains a labor of love with many projects to go!

Neal and I enjoy doing DIY home improvement projects together. We both enjoy working hard and seeing the transformational process.

As Neal often says, “This is not the highlight reel, but the real reel.” So our hope is you will learn from our DIY successes and mistakes!

Our lake house is not perfect, but it is perfect for us!

Throughout this post, we provide links in case you want to explore this specific project a little deeper.

Renovation of the Original Part of Our House

The street side exterior during construction

Removing car port and cedar siding

lake house during renovation

Reconfiguring windows and door

lake house during renovation

Progress . . . the new front door will be in the new addition.

lake house during renovation

The side of the house during demolition

lake house during renovation

And the side of the house after spray foam.

spray foam insulation

The roof after spray foam and before installation of metal roof … Oh my!

roof under constrution

The lake side with old windows and doors.

before lake house renovation

The lake side with new windows installed.

new front windows

Kitchen Renovation

This is our kitchen before.

old kitchen

Kitchen in process…

kitchen during renovation

And below is our kitchen (and dining area) after renovation.

Living Room Renovation

Before renovation

living room before renovation

Living area during renovation

during renovation

Windows with View of the Lake

Large Picture Windows

The old picture windows

windows before window installation

Framed for new picture windows

window installation

The new picture windows

final picture of a newly constructed and painted half wall with railing and 4 large square windows and a brown wood ceiling

Old windows

during renovation

New windows and installation of heart pine flooring

installing heart pine flooring

New heart pine flooring and banister

stairwell after renovation


This is our fireplace before renovation.

fireplace before updated

And this is our fireplace after we renovated it.

updated Living Room Fireplace DIY home improvement project

Click HERE to learn more about the fireplace update.

Loft Renovation

This is a picture before we renovated the loft.

showing a before picture of a loft/craft room with brown carpet, cedar post, and furniture

Another before picture

Knee wall in a loft (future craft room) before demolition showing brown carpet, railing, and knee wall.

In progress

drywall installed on half wall with spots of drywall mud

And this is a picture after we renovated the loft (Suz’s craft room/office).

Final picture of craft table in craft room

To learn more about the loft (craft room ) renovation, click HERE.

Basement Transformation

This is a picture before we renovated the basement.

basement before renovation

In progress…

partially installed white wood plank ceiling

Below is a picture of the renovated basement.

Installing vinyl plank flooring DIY home improvement project

To learn more about the basement renovation, click HERE.

House Addition

digging footings for basement block wall

Lake side of the new addition

lake house during renovation

Framing the new addition and connecting it to the existing house

new addition under construction

More framing…


Our new front porch and front door are under construction

front porch under construction

Drywall . . . making progress…

installed drywall

Outside Spaces

Porch Transformation

This is a picture of our porch before we updated it.

before picture of porch with random furniture and concrete floor

Adding a double window

adding basement window

Installing simulated stone

To learn more about installing simulated stone, click HERE.

simulated stone being installed on a house

Under construction

porch under construction with outdoor fireplace, framed apron, and cedar columns

Outdoor fireplace under construction

outdoor fireplace under construction with gray stone partially installed

And this is our porch after the transformation.

Porch with installed tile floor, barn wood ceiling, and diy home improvement outdoor fireplace

To learn more about building our fireplace click HERE.

And to learn more about renovating our porch, click HERE.

Deck Railing

To learn more about how we flipped our deck boards, click HERE.

And to learn more about how we installed hog wire deck railing, click HERE.

Streetside Shed

Our sad toolshed

demolition of tool shed workshop

And our much-improved tool shed

shed makeover DIY home improvement project

To learn how we updated our shed, click HERE.

Concrete Path to the Lake

We originally had wood steps leading to the lake. These steps were challenging for some and were a constant maintenance issue. So we decided to add a concrete path that would enable us to drive a golf cart to the lake.

This is a before picture of our concrete path to the lake . . . so many steps!

before lake house renovation

Below is a picture of our house was renovated but before the concrete path.

The beginning of the path

dirt path to lake

The framed path

formed path to lake with wood strips

And the final concrete path to the lake.

house, retaining wall, and path to lake

To learn how we constructed our concrete path, click HERE.

Dock/Boat House

This is a before and after picture of our dock (and boat house).

Click here to see more details about Building our Boat House/Dock.

And click here to see how we built a barn door for our dock closet.

After a hard day of working on a DIY project, we enjoy the sun setting over the lake. We hope you enjoy these sunsets too.

sunset over lake

Good Night Lake!

sunset over lake

Please continue to check our blog for future updates and other DIY home improvement projects.

Don’t forget to Pin this for future reference.

before and after lake house picture DIY home improvement
before and after lake house renovation diy home improvement

Let us know if you have questions or what you think about our lake house renovation by commenting below.

Happy DIYing!


  1. Andrea on 09/23/2018 at 4:32 PM

    This doesn’t look like the same house! I like the changes you made.

    • Suzanne on 09/24/2018 at 7:53 AM

      Thanks, Andrea! It was a lot of work, but we really enjoy our home. Stay tuned to see more updates!

  2. Joyce Webber on 10/27/2018 at 10:57 AM

    Your house looks so cozy!

  3. Sannygeway on 12/11/2018 at 10:56 PM

    Nice posts! 🙂

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  7. Michelle on 06/15/2020 at 8:14 PM

    Absolutely love what you did with everything! My husband and I are mostly DIYer’s ourselves, and while the skill and enthusiasm is there, we keep running into one important hurdle – design! How did you come to make your design decisions as you went along. Did you start with the full design in mind and work project by project towards it? If so, how did you make the decision to pull the pin and stick with one “style”. It all looks so cohesive, and we so frequently have our projects look pieced together because we can’t seem to achieve a common look. Any advice that way?
    Can we book your design services 🙂

    • Suzanne on 06/16/2020 at 8:18 AM

      Thanks, Michelle for asking your question!

      We lived in our house (as a part-time lake house/cabin) for several years before we renovated and built the addition. We really thought about how we used each space. Neal is also a real estate appraiser so he has seen MANY houses (some well designed and other not so much). We have also renovated two houses previously. Looking at magazines and Pinterest also helped us to get ideas.

      In the existing part of our house, we knew we wanted an open living area and the existing layout of the house allowed that. We literally laid out spaces and studies them for months. Originally, we were going to put the dining area where our sitting area is. We are glad we changed this. When you are renovating, you have to plan/design within the existing space except for maybe moving a wall/columns or adding/replacing windows. Neal does have a real eye for seeing the potential and having completed two major renovations in the past also helped. Once we had things laid out, we took our ideas to a draftsman to draw the plans.

      When planning/designing the addition, we knew some things we wanted. We wanted long windows on the lakeside and when possible using odd numbers (3, 5 or 9) on things like windows, although we do have double windows in several places. We wanted neutral colors (cabinets, paint, etc.). We wanted each adult child to have their own bathroom. We wanted a large walk-in closet so we could keep all of our clothes in one place and have less furniture in our bedroom. We also wanted everything to look as timeless as possible. The draftsman put all of these ideas on paper too.

      However, once we completed the renovation, there were several areas/spaces we wanted to redo or further renovation. We did not like our paint colors in the basement, so we finally changed them a few years later. In other words, now that we have lived in our house for several years, we study an area (our porch, the loft, the basement ceiling, the basement floor, our deck, etc.) and then look at pictures on Pinterest. We also really think about how we use this space and the ultimate look we want to accomplish. I must admit that Neal has a real gift in designing spaces and over the years, I am better at decorating (still not great, but getting better thanks to Pinterest). Sometimes, we have planned a project for a year or more.

      We still have SEVERAL projects. For example, I don’t like our granite countertops anymore. I wish we had taken more time to select them; they are too busy. Replacing them will not happen any time soon. I also want to replace or recover what we call our “flowery chairs” in our sitting area because they are worn and the fabric is TOTALLY outdated. We are also in the process of replacing our deck rail.

      All this to say, our goal is to create a timeless look. We do not want to be too trendy and have to change things often. We also want our home to represent our family memories. We want it to be us.

      So my advice would be to decide the look and feel you want by looking at Pinterest and other sources. Then, really study your spaces to see what is possible. Think about colors, layout, and any extra design features you want to add. Then, create a plan to slowly transform these spaces.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to share more about your project ideas. I would love to see what you are considering.

      Be blessed,


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