top of page
  • Writer's pictureCabin Caretaker

How do you spend your christmas?

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

If you own a vacation rental, when you finally get an open stretch of time at the place, it's never to relax. It's to fix, improve or attack a project that's on a super long, never ending list. Ours, I can't even see the end of, it's so long. On the one hand it's fun to have the freedom to just jump on a new project and see where it leads. Its another when you never take time to smell the flowers.

Last year when we took our first solo long vacation at the house we spent less than 48 hours doing vacation type things. It was mostly spent cleaning, reorganizing or lugging in new furniture to replace the stuff that came with the house.

I sit in bed after a very long day, and start to what my father called 'Squirrel Caging'.

I would think, "I can move those curtains up, I can scrape the ceiling, What color do I want to paint the room upstairs, Should we add more games to the family room?" It's never ending. Usually John gently reminds me that the kids will be awake in 3 hours and I should try to get some sleep because we have another full day of ripping out the main floor bathroom.

The house was built in 1975. It is Sears Catalog home. Meant to be a summer cabin. It's tight quarters were standard for the time. There isn't a lot you can do with it unlesss you have endless deep pockets. So you have to be inventive to bring it into the 21st century.

Here we sat at the breakfast table and I asked the dreaded question to John. "Do you think..." An hour later he was off to Home Depot and I was taking off the shower doors.

The rip out begins
Note to self, don't work on both bathrooms in a 2 bathroom house with a family of 6.

Looking at the finished pictures now, it doesn't look too different. But it is.

old wallpaper
Original wallpaper in the bath from behind the old trim.

Everything is an adventure.

We wanted to install a bath fan. We knew it would be a production. There was only a light and we needed to run duct work for the exhaust out to the soffit.

'Thank goodness for John. He peeked his head up into the ceiling after tearing down the old light.

"Huh!" "Huh what?" I said.

There is already duct work up here. They ran it and never installed a fan.We were in luck, the hard part was done already. Now we just had to identify which joist bay the duct was in so we could make sure it came out in the soffit outside.

How the heck do you do that?

Enter my evil genius. For once he used his powers for good. He sticks his phone up in the duct and turns on the radio, full blast. Take a stroll outside and just listen. Here, piping out the soffit, is the song we hear playing in the bathroom ceiling. If Steve Jobs only knew what his phone could do!

Evil genius at work.
The power of an iPhone to locate the soffit bay for the new bath fan.

Bath fan. CHECK!

New bright light bath fan
Ah the beautiful sound of moisture being removed from a small space!

New electric switches with a timer for the fan to run when you take a shower. No more molding walls!

new bath!
Looking into the 'new' bath after reno over christmas break.

We added the custom wainscoting around the bottom. Painted a fresh sky blue over crisp white. Repainted the ceiling and completely removed the shower doors to clean and scrub the tub, remove the old caulk and generally rebuild the doors so they slide nice and easy.

The way to clean large items in a vacation rental.
Did you know toilet cleaner, a magic eraser and elbow grease will shine up shower doors?

Updated the sink, for now, with a good scrubbing, new coat of white paint and updated the handles and new vanity mirror with more storage. New light fixtures to light up the space.

Even replacing the mirror was a case of 14 steps back 2 steps forward. We took the old one down and found a huge hole behind from when they redid the kitchen. Now we had to re-sheetrock the whole wall over the toilet. Because of course the new one I picked out was narrower and taller than the old one.

New wall board goes up to cover the huge hole.
Many years of repair over the sink left the wall board a bit battered.

Yes, the floor still needs to be addressed but it's clean and in good shape. If I had endless deep pockets they would be outta here. But we have a new deck to pay for this year.

Room by room, piece by piece. My day dreams at the lake are slowly coming true. Hopefully one of these years we can stay and just actually sit, maybe go for a boat ride.

This trip was 2 new mattresses, a complete bathroom reno, WIFI extender, USB charging station in the office, fixed the lower bathroom shower floor, reset all the kitchen cabinets and counted all the missing tupperware that seemed to have grown feet and left this season. We have since replaced with the pyrex instead since its better for the environment and you. A shuffleboard table, an air hockey table are in the downstair game room area. New porch swing to go up once the deck is done. We got rid of the spare bed in the loft and added a flop bean bag couch for the kiddos. New curtains to make downstairs a bit cozier. New outdoor brighter house lights. And 2 new wooden Adirondack chairs for the dock.

But the best present during that 'break'?

Sunrise over our christmas break.
The sunrise the morning after we got to the house.

Totally worth it!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page