Little did we know we were jumping into the middle of a family feud a few years ago when we rented a lake cottage in New Hampshire.
Four siblings had inherited the house and were warring over what to do. Sell, said the sibling from the West Coast. Rent for a few weeks to make enough to cover the taxes, said a sister who wanted time on the lake with her family. Renovate, said the rich one. Leave it the way mom and dad had it, insisted the sentimental sibling.
As renters, we were willing to overlook the mouse droppings, the lumpy mattresses, and the outhouse because we could hear the water lapping the rocks at night. The view was spectacular and the dock was perfect for our three boys. But the place was shabby.
While up in New Hampshire a few weeks ago, I noticed the cottage had vanished. In its place was a massive home with gorgeous stonework and landscaped grounds. Selling would have meant a windfall for the siblings. But I imagine no money could ease the heartache of losing that family heirloom.
Lakefront properties in New England are in high demand this summer. If you’ve bought or inherited an old cottage and you’re not quite sure what to do, here are some tips to help make the place more livable in the meantime.
- Buy new mattresses. You want to breathe the fresh mountain air not the rank smell of old mattresses. After a day on the lake, you’ll want a comfortable bed and a good night’s sleep. Get rid of musty mattresses quickly.
- Replace dressers that have warped or broken drawers. Few are worth restoring. You don’t want to be fighting to open the drawer that has your swimsuit in it when everyone else is doing cannonballs from the dock.
- Make room for family and friends! Futons and sleep sofas are perfect for guests. They provide a decent night’s sleep, but they aren’t so comfortable that your guest will want to stay for the summer.
- Update with accessories. Get rid of old lamps with shredded shades and faded throw pillows. Small updates make a huge difference for a small amount of money.
- Whatever you do, make sure you buy quality. Don’t buy a cheap particle board dresser online; it’ll be too warped to use next summer. Buy solid wood furniture. We’ve got plenty of bargains at FCG. That guarantees you’ll spend more time on the lake and less time wrestling with broken chairs, rickety tables, or sticky drawers.