Making It “Your” Cottage
Anytime we move into a new house we go through the process of making it “our” house. With brand new homes the transition is almost instant. With older homes it takes a bit more time. With a cabin or cottage, it can be somewhat more difficult and that’s just fine.
Why are people so emotionally attached to their cottage?
As all cottage owners know, there is a special sentiment people have for their recreational property that they don’t feel with their regular residential home.
Most people spend only a few weeks of the year at the lake and much of that time is spent fighting insects, battling rodents, and doing repairs.
On the surface the passion for the cabin doesn’t make sense, but once we think about what it represents in people’s lives, the reason for the adoration becomes clear.
The lake is the place cottagers go to relax and get away from the hectic pace of regular life. It is a spot to spend quality time with friends and family, or to step back and re-evaluate the world we live in and the role we play in it.
Memories are stacked up over the years, and the cottage becomes a part of us. When it is time to sell, it is a painful experience, but everyone hopes the next owner will get as much joy and happiness out of it.
Being A New Cottager
As the new owner of an old cottage, how do you make it feel like “your” place?
With so much heart and soul invested in a cottage by someone else, you may wonder if it is possible to make it as precious for you as it was for the previous owners.
A few years ago I decided to buy a little place in the woods that was built in the early 80’s. The previous owners had built the cabin themselves and just about everything was handed over with the keys. This made it much easier to move in, yet I was walking into “their” cabin.
The first summer, I changed very few things; partly because the cabin had been hardly used for 2 years and needed a lot of fixing-up, and partly because it just didn’t feel right to go through and just overhaul everything straight away.
In the second year, I put my own pictures up on the walls, replaced some of the books on the bookshelves, rearranged a few pieces of furniture, and changed the curtains.
Some of the old furniture that was in need of replacement was removed and other items were repainted or refurnished.
I planted a few new trees, added a flower garden, and started to clean out the dead brush in the woods behind the cabin. Slowly, and respectfully, the property began to feel like “my” cabin.
The transition process has continued each summer. And though the physical changes inside the cabin have been relatively minor, my attachment to the cabin and surrounding property has grown each year. The newly planted trees are defining their place and to a certain extent, my legacy. Together the cottage and I have survived storms, watched generations of the resident animals raise their young ones, and learned the little personality quirks of all the pieces of equipment that have broken down at one time or another. I have taken hundreds of photos and counted thousands of raindrops; and each season that passes adds one more year to “my” cottage history.
In the end, we can make quick and drastic changes to the furniture and decor in order to put our stamp on the cottage, but developing the true emotional attachment that is so unique to cottage ownership just takes time and that’s probably how it should be.
Written by: Andrew Walker