The Best of the Cottage: Fakin’ It

Sometimes you have to fake it–especially when you are doing a whole-house renovation on a budget.  Some dreams for the place were left on the pillow because they were bigger than the budget.  Other dreams found a happy compromise by the fine art of faking it.  Let’s take a look.


I really wanted spiffy appliances for the cottage but knew that it would be real luxury for a vacation home.  We decided on basic, inexpensive white appliances.  I investigated after-market panels to apply to the front of the dishwasher and refrigerator, which ultimately was a dead-end.  I wanted the refrigerator to look as little like a big white box as possible.  I wanted it built in.

The nice thing about buying a refrigerator while you are doing new cabinetry is that you can fit your fridge in its new home perfectly snug.  If I couldn’t have a built-in refrigerator, at least I could have one that only showed white on one side.  Kenny, our contractor especial, built the surround to fit the refrigerator like a glove.  It goes a long way to faking yourself to a built-in.  Not bad for a basic white fridge.

A piece of crown molding and base footers trim out the icebox (sometimes I like to pretend I’m 85 years old).  The surround was attached to the original cabinetry, all painted in Sherwin Williams Svelte Sage (#6164).


Don’t all mountain houses have to have a hot tub for steamy soaks on a cold night?  I likey, oh, I likey.  But I no likey those awkward freestanding hot tubs with the plastic surround that may or may not be encased in a redwood gazebo with lattice that you have to hike up into.  I would have loved something poured in the ground with mosaic tile and surrounded by a flagstone patio.  As it was, we barely squeaked this hot tub in at the end of the project.  When I came to Kenny with the idea of sinking a readymade hot tub in a deck, he shook his head like he always did when we talked and then got to work.  Love that man.

The new deck shoots off the house diagonally to where it counts–the view, baby.  Kenny and his crew built a base below the main deck to support the hot tub.

The day the hot tub was delivered, Kenny does it again.  Fits like a glove!  Two sides are visible of the hot tub, which allows access to the motor.  We’ll eventually get to planting some bushes on that side to camouflage the redwood plastic surround.  But, look, from the house–we so faked it!

Photo was taken before the power lines were buried.


Don’t you love barn doors?  I really hoped to use a flat track sliding door in the cottage, and then I found the perfect place–the master bedroom.

But have you priced flat tracks before, that so-cool hardware with wheels and dealios to make it look industrial chic?  It is crazy expensive.  Crazy.  We went with a basic track system in aluminum from Architectural Doors & Hardware.  We spray painted the track in black and added black door hinges vertically to give the illusion of flat track hardware.  The door is an old pine door that I painted.  The price of the door and hardware added up to only a fourth of what I would have paid for just the flat track hardware.   Sometimes it feels so good to fake it.


The upper floor of the cottage has wonderful rustic pine floors that we refinished.  The downstairs was a combination of carpet, parquet, and vinyl–all laid on a concrete slab.  We could really save some money if we could utilize that concrete floor instead of installing new flooring.  But we couldn’t afford professional concrete stainers.  I implored the gentlemen at Sherwin Williams how to get the look by faking it.  Which product do I use?  We finally settled on this H & C Concrete Sealer Wet Look and pumped it with tint–one gallon in peacock blue and the other in tan.  Turns out, after I painted the whole downstairs, I’m informed by another Sherwin Williams store that under no circumstances was that a good idea to tint this clear sealer.  I called the help line on the back of the can.  The manufacturer agreed that the quality of the sealer had now been compromised.  Well, I thought, we will see what happens–at least at this point I’m only out a couple gallons of paint, several hours of my life, and two sore knees.

And, so, this is how the floor looks a year later.  I’d say it has held up very well.  Another cheer for faking it.

Now, if you try this and it flakes instead of fakes, please don’t blame me.  I am merely reporting–not guaranteeing.  But, this is how the process worked for me.  I loaded up two rollers, one with the blue sealer and one with the tan.  Working in a 4×4′ area, I rolled a random pattern in both colors, slightly overlapping the two colors.  Next I took a large dry brush and blended the two colors together.  This leaves some brush strokes, which I blotted out with crumpled plastic grocery bags.  Once dry, you could apply a clear coat of the sealer to give shine–since the added tint decreased the shine of the “wet look.”


There is more best of the cottage:

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  1. Loving those barn doors….and luck duck with that hot tub.

  2. Oh my… how DO you do all of this?!!! I’d be so lost! But, this have given me some direction for whatever our next project may be. I LOVE those floors!!!! Absolutely beautiful! Can’t wait to see it all in person someday. Great work, Angela!

  3. I’m ready to Hot Tub Time Machine-it right now!!

    Thanks for sharing the name of the SW color in the kitchen. Can I ask what the countertops are, too? I may try to just steal all of it one of these days! (The idea, I mean. Not the actual cabinets or anything.) 😛

  4. Karen Tyner says:

    Love that hot tub and it’s wonderful view, first time I’ve seen a pic at night-bet there’s great star/moon watching! My knees hurt just looking at your cool floors-you are not a fluff-girl!

  5. elle fritz says:

    That view is awesome! Is this cottage by Campmeeting?

  6. The cottage is gorgeous! Is the glass room a sun porch? I love, love, love the night picture!

    I’ve been in love with cement floors for years. We are presently remodeling our living room, but eventually, when we get to the kitchen, I’d love to put them in there, if I can talk my husband into it. 😉

  7. Peggy says:

    Going back to bed after reading about all this work! Beautiful!

  8. I might try this clever method on our basement floors when we do our Big Redo down there.

    And Kenny, this miracle-worker, I so want his #!! 😉 He did a great job w/ everything, but I esp like the clever hot tub trick! I loathe those freestanders!

  9. Angel says:

    Only recently found your blog, but I am totally loving it.
    The Cottage is beautiful! My fave fake so far is the concrete floors. Are they slippery at all? Or is the fake so good that they just look that way?

    Great Job!

    Fellow Ga. girl,


  10. Whew! I thought you were going to end the blog talking about tucking the kids in downstairs and having “date night” upstairs where you don’t have to fake anything. :)

  11. So funny, Erin! That post is probably on her agenda when she gets to the bunk room.

  12. Such a clever faker you are! I love your cottage and all posts about it because it gives me a chance to gawk at it again. It’s amazing how great that standard fridge looks with the built-in look. And those doors are just too cool. When I finally get a beach cottage of my own to decorate someday, I want some doors just like those in it. I made a note of the Svelte Sage, too. So pretty!

  13. Your hot tub is jaw dropping! Nice fake.

  14. cheryl says:

    Omg .. your cottage is gorgeous … but where oh where are your window treatments??

  15. your place is gorgeous! and i love your kitchen.
    and your ‘fake’ barn door is such a great idea!
    Do you mind if i link to your door on my Barn Door post?


  16. angie says:

    Can you tell me the specific name of the hardware you used for your barn door. I went to the company’s website you linked but it was hard to figure out. Thanks!

  17. Debbie says:

    Just found your blog tonight and I am in awe! Thank you for so many fab ideas! Love your concrete floors and wonder how you removed the vinyl.I have a small sunporch with the old asbestos tile :0 and would like to remove it and paint the concrete but wonder if this is worth it and should just tile over it! Any other suggestions or ideas?

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  1. […] list sources and explain any DIYs.  If you are interested in the concrete finish, you can find more information in this post–but I’ll post more about it separately […]

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