The vision of the Gatekeeper was to have a welcoming atmosphere right near Highway SS, the main road we are located on. The cottage turned out to be much more elaborate than what we had envisioned at first. We started out by sharing our ideas and planning it a little at a time. We had the basic structure down, but we made little changes to make it homier and more inviting. We knew that we wanted a large porch. We had a large porch at our old house and it was so relaxing to sit and watch the nature around us.
We wanted to give the same welcoming feeling here to friends, neighbors and strangers alike. From the porch you walk in with the kitchen off to the right and an open living room to the left. The cottage was designed so that larger groups could get together and be in contact with each other without having walls and restrictions. The balcony is open to the main level so that individuals above are still included in conversations. Having a large family, we knew keeping it open and comfortable for a larger group of people was a must.
In the kitchen we wanted a rustic and cozy feel but still with elegance. The ceiling is original steel ceiling tiles from an 1800s estate. Lori bought them from Poor Richards antique shop up in Spooner, WI. These tiles have so much character, they still have bullet holes in them as well as the original speckled look to them.
The countertop is unique with two layers of ¾ inch plywood glued and screwed together and topped with a galvalume top. We love the rustic look it brings to our kitchen. Below the countertops we used box cupboards for support and the front is trimmed out with black ash. We added a peninsula that sticks out about 5 feet from the wall and was built with rough sawn lumber. It’s the little touches that we are the most excited about. We recoated an antique hutch dating back to the 1800s, and kept the original look but added a polyurethane sealer.
So, Lori told me she wanted to put galvanized tin on the West wall of the cottage. At first, I thought she was absolutely nuts! To be honest, after having the Christmas tree up and seeing the lights glow off of the tin, I really do like it! The rest of the walls in the living room are black ash that have been stained gray.
The floors, that was a comedy of errors that actually turned out okay. All of the floors on the mail level and in the loft are solid oak. The oak is also the same as what we used on the porch, except with a sanded finish. We decided to start in the bathroom with a gray stain, but the sealer ended up making the wood look different than we wanted. At the doorway of the bathroom we decided we wanted to switch to a dark stain, so that we ended up mixing ourselves. Let’s just say there is no duplicating that even if we tried! Someday we plan on redoing the floors and we will be purchasing the stain instead of mixing it ourselves! In the loft we went with a gray flooring, we felt it fit the aesthetic up there better.
No Sheet Rock
One very unique thing about our cottage is the fact it has NO SHEET ROCK! I do not care for sheet rock, it’s messy, I’m no good at it, and I would prefer to put up a solid board on my walls rather than a paper coated board/gypsum product. There is a minute amount of plywood that has plaster on it underneath the balcony of the loft. I plastered it and then Lori textured it to give it some design and for couple of amateurs, I think it turned out good!
In the bathroom on the main level we used and old buffet as our vanity by cutting the legs off and lowering it to the correct height. Lori spruced it up and chalk painted it to make it look nice. Then we put stone and lights on the wall behind it. We worked as a team on the bathroom which was really fun! Lori requested barn board behind the toilet which turned out really cool as well. The tub and shower door have a slight curve to them and keeping with the steel theme we used mini corrugated steel on them. Another fun touch to the bathroom is our laundry chute. This idea was brought to us by my brother Mike. He mentioned it when we were first building and I thought it would be a great idea. There have been so many great ideas and suggestions from others that have made their way into this cottage.