Fresh, subtle updates make this cabin a summer hotspot

A lakeside cabin in the Wisconsin woods offers a stylish summer escape

Picture this: it’s summer. The sun is beating down on the motionless, glistening lake. There’s just enough shade from the trees to provide some respite from the searing heat. The barbecue is sizzling and the only sound is of children splashing in the warm water. It’s the kind of perfect idyll you only really experience in the movies. But some people actually do live like this in real life.
Kathryn Scott knows all about it. The New York-based artist and interior designer got a taste of it when she was asked to turn her client’s holiday home in Wisconsin into a more liveable space. The cottage, which sits on the edge of a lake much like the one described above, had been in the family for generations – as had the three neighbouring houses – and the place was starting to show its age. The owners, who live in Texas for most of the year, were eager to rejuvenate their beloved summer home.
“One goal was to lift the house into a more joyful experience,” explains Kathryn, who set up her design studio in the 1980s. “Another was to make the rooms flexible for as many guests as manageable, and to decorate it with furnishings that included heirlooms and antiques, as well as new furniture appropriate for a cabin in the woods.”
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, built in the 1940s, is surrounded by thick woodland and faces the shoreline. Despite its magical setting, however, it had always had a tendency to feel dark and depressing. Almost everything about it was crying out to be refreshed. “All the systems needed work,” recalls Kathryn. Working with a local contractor, she began by opening up the rooms, bringing down walls where appropriate, and trying to blur the boundary between inside and out.
An open patio at the front of the house was once the site of the original family cabin that dated from 1903. Kathryn decided to make the living room bigger by extending it out into the porch. “There were some structural issues that had to be dealt with,” she says. One of these was coming up with an alternative ceiling to disguise the work below. A weak support had to be replaced to stop the ceiling from sagging, and different finishes were used.
“I added the dark bamboo ceiling at the old porch section of the living room to create more interest,” says the designer. “Elsewhere, I used a bright ceiling colour.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 212-220, issue 106.

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Photography Ellen McDermott
Words Catherine Coyle
Art Direction Gillian Welsh
What A four-bedroom cottage built in the 1940s
Where Wisconsin
Interior Designer Kathryn Scott