How many times have you heard, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”?  And, that’s exactly what crossed our minds when a repeat client reached out for help with a somewhat different project.  A couple of things made this particular decorating ‘ask’ unique; the biggest obstacle being the location of the property.  While most of our clients live in Illinois, we’re occasionally asked to help with out-of-state projects.  This would be one of those occasions.

Long-distance decorating presents unique challenges.  Think of it like decorating with one eye closed or a hand tied behind your back.  It isn’t impossible, but it’s important to understand and accept the inherent limitations to decorating virtually.  Creating beautiful spaces, as perfect as possible, hundreds of miles away requires frequent communication and coordination with a helpful & willing homeowner.  It takes a lot of careful planning and preparation by the designer.  Of course, a generous helping of good luck doesn’t hurt, either!

Our clients had recently purchased a 4 bedroom, 2 bath cottage style home in South Haven, Michigan.  Planning to use the second home as a vacation getaway and short-term rental, our goal was to make the home inviting and comfortable without breaking the bank.  The 82-year-old home needed a few cosmetic updates and to be completely furnished and decorated.

From the before pics our clients shared (below), we knew we had our work cut out.  In spite of the challenges and excited by the possibilities, we knew we could help uncover the hidden potential in the home.

Other than just pictures, we were dependent on our clients to provide accurate room dimensions and other relevant information about the home in order to do our job.  We started by virtually addressing the cosmetic questions.  Refinishing wood floors, updating paint colors and a few other updates would work wonders.



Color consulting remotely for the entire home proved a new & somewhat daunting challenge.  Using only photos, we had to select colors for every paintable surface and communicate them to our client’s painter.   Given the resort nature of the community and it’s proximity to Lake Michigan, we opted for an appropriate light & bright, lake house vibe, repeating a combination of beach-y Sherwin Williams colors (SW6084 Modest White, SW7001 Marshmallow, SW6777 Carefree, SW6219 Rain and accents of SW6244 Naval) throughout the small home.   Our off-white, teal and blue color palette created the perfect backdrop for a lake cottage motif.






With few exceptions, the flooring in the home was in desperate need of attention.  Our clients decided to restore as much of the hardwood flooring as possible.  Stripping paint, sanding and sealing the original flooring throughout helped unify the spaces and added warmth, reinforcing the vintage charm of the home.

Our next hurdle would be selecting enough furniture to fill the home.  As a short-term rental property, it was important for our clients to be able to host as many people as possible in order to maximize the revenue potential.  With limited local choices for furniture, we were challenged to find a cost-effective supplier we could, not only shop online, but who would deliver to the home.  We ended up sourcing all the furniture from Ashley Furniture in Kalamazoo (about 40 miles away).

With the room measurements provided, we drafted two-dimensional space plans for every room in the home.  They included dimensions for the individual furniture pieces as well as their placement.  We selected an assortment of different styles to create a casual, “collected” look fitting our overall scheme.  We chose just enough to minimally furnish the rooms while paying close attention to dimensions, price point and availability.

The Living Room and adjoining Dining Room could seat 6 or more comfortably.  And, although a bit tight in places, we managed to furnish every bedroom with a queen-size or larger bed per our client’s request.

While waiting on the work to be completed and the furniture delivered, we began sourcing all the other familiar things we knew would be needed to give the rooms their cozy, lake cottage personalities.  Attention to every detail from window treatments to artwork, bath towels to accessories, would ensure the home was ready for guests as soon as possible.

When it comes to creating a beautiful space, we have always believed, it’s not what you spend but how you use what you buy, that matters Being as frugal as possible, we still managed to create a beautiful, cohesive and thoughtful look for the home that both the owners and their potential tenants will enjoy while visiting South Haven.

Here a few photos of the results:












Looking back, while the project presented unique challenges, it also helped us grow more confident in our ability to deliver just what our clients wanted.  It was so worth it! Not only were we pushed out of our comfort zone, but we got to try new and different ways of approaching familiar problems.  We also go to work with wonderful clients who truly understand, value and appreciate the creative process that is interior decorating.  Working together, mostly virtually, we managed to pull it off.  Their home is updated and beautifully styled to welcome its owners and tenants and will be a perfect vacation getaway.

If you’re searching for a great get-away in South Haven, look it up!

Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.   815-245-2433