My Parents’ Beloved Lake House

published Oct 14, 2011
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Location: Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 24 — owned

I know this tour is a bit of a departure from standard Apartment Therapy fare. It’s roomier, lake-ier, and more traditionally decorated than the average tour. But it happens to be my favorite house in the world and a place of peace. So I finally decided it was time to share it.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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View of dining room windows from 2nd floor loft (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This lake house belongs to my parents. They bought it twenty four years ago. At that time, it was a tiny two-room cabin that shared the footprint with the current living room and den. My parents designed the addition of the kitchen, dining room, two first floor bedrooms, and the second floor loft bedroom, with the help of my uncle who’s an architect and builder.

This home, filled with family hand-me-downs and unbelievable afternoon light, is a cozy, cedar container for countless family memories over the last 24 years. It is also a deeply cherished treasure for one more reason. My brother, a talented carpenter, co-built the house when he was twenty years old, living in it while it was under construction. He died four years ago, so this home is a tangible, invaluable, beautiful legacy, where we are more apt to feel his presence.

My parents were generous enough to let me share their home on Apartment Therapy, knowing it doesn’t reflect the dominant style. So dear readers, please be gentle and kind with your comments. I share it because it’s a source of deep peace for me and my family, and it seemed like the perfect farewell to summer. (I know, I know summer was over a while ago, but I have a hard time letting things go.)

(PLEASE NOTE: My mom answers the survey questions, but it’s my voice being used in the resources section – e.g. “my grandfather’s desk” is my grandfather, not my mom’s.)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic cottage-style

Inspiration: Foundation of furnishings and decorative objects were family hand-me-downs and we just used those as a starting point. Local auctions, which reflect the style of the New England White Mountains, are also a source of inspiration. And of course, the beauty of the surrounding mountains and lake.

Favorite Element: That my son helped build the house. All the windows and natural light. Western exposure. Open floorplan.

Biggest Challenge: Have never been able to come up with the right lighting for over the dining room area. We’d love to find an iron chandelier that fits with the style of the house. Any ideas?

What Friends Say: How warm and inviting is it is.

Biggest Embarrassment: We’d been sealing the cedar exterior for years and years but a few years ago we decided to stain it. It was such an awful bright orange that we had them come back and try something else. Finally it’s mellowed into a nice color.

Proudest DIY: The original house was a tiny two room cabin (the current living room and den encompass the entire space that made up the original cabin). We’re proud of the fact that our son and brother-in-law built the house but we helped design it.

Biggest Indulgence: The master bedroom loft space.

Best Advice: Follow your heart and get things you love.

Dream Sources: Local country auctions.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • Sofas: some discount place in Pennsylvania
    • Throw pillows: Crate & Barrel
    • Sofa throw blanket: Anthropologie
    • Coffee table and end table: made by my dad when he was in middle school wood shop class
    • High-back plaid chair: my grandmother’s


    • Table: Antique store in Wayne, Pennsylvania
    • Chairs: Consignment store in Wayne, Pennsylvania
    • Rug: One King’s Lane
    • Hutch: my grandmother’s


    • Stools: Mohr & McPherson
    • Antique High Chair: Local antique shop
    • Knobs: Anthropologie


    • Quilt: LL Bean
    • Yellow chair: my great grandfather’s chair
    • Rattan Swivel Chairs: Pier 1
    • Antique Desk: my grandfather’s which had been passed down many generations


    • Bed: Crate & Barrel
    • Duvet Cover: April Cornell
    • Quilt: Local Auction
    • Blue Desk: My grandmother’s
    • Dresser: My great grandfather’s

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Images: Kyle Freeman

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