“I’ve always enjoyed finding a fresh, unique use for an item,” says Sue. She calls it “re-purposing” and she has done everything from converting an old cupboard into a fireplace, to turning wooden vegetable crates into shelving units.
Warm, Inviting and Unique
When she purchased the cabins, Sue hoped to create a cozy Northwoods atmosphere complete with antique fishing paraphernalia, animal mounts and quirky décor. She also wanted to “bring the outside in” by decorating with stone, rock, trees and natural elements.
“I wasn’t looking to create the cliché fisherman’s cabin with mismatched furniture and stark decorating,” says Sue. “I wanted the cabins to be warm, inviting and unique.”
“They were selling the lanes, and I couldn’t resist,” says Sue. “They were 2 inches of solid maple!”
Ultimately, she made the lanes into two narrow dining tables (8 and 12 feet) to accommodate seating when her entire family visits.
“They are long, sturdy, decorative conversation pieces that are both functional and distinctive,” says Sue.
Sue also used a burl (a large, rounded outgrowth on the trunk of a tree) as a base to support a stone sink made from a granite boulder.
“It looks like a tree is sprouting out of the floor,” says Sue.
Sue loves distinctive. In fact, she wouldn’t know what to do with a traditional curtain rod. The window treatments in her cabins are outfitted using tree branches, rowboat oars and fishing spears. She uses old cane poles and fishnets as curtain rods and curtains, and clothesline and antique clothespins hold the curtains in her laundry room.
One of Sue’s favorite hobbies is finding creative uses for items that some might consider useless. For instance, she hung an old washtub bench upside down and stores folded towels on it.
“I love giving something normal a quirky use,” says Sue. For example, an old grain scoop – turned upside down and mounted to the wall – is now a toilet paper holder. She also attached antique hooks to a wooden ironing board to make a coat rack.
Beautiful Design on a Budget
Sue scours magazines to spark innovative design ideas, and then brainstorms ways to duplicate the look without incurring the cost. She notes that giving a room a makeover does not require outfitting it with brand new accessories but rather “decorating around the old.” For example, Sue says she has a bathroom sink with hairline surface cracks. Instead of discarding it, she decorated the room with a nice shower curtain and plush towels, giving the room a rustic yet luxurious feel.
Sue owns antique beds, dressers and nightstands, but she’s quick to point out that it’s not a matter of randomly setting out old stuff.
Sue’s advice to anyone looking to decorate is to not limit oneself. “Nothing is impossible,” she says, “when you have a good imagination.”
Christy Heitger-Ewing took an industrial arts class where she turned something pink into something blue when she smashed her thumb with a hammer.
Reader Resource: Wilderness Lodge, www.thewildernesslodge.com.