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The Biggest Bangs for Your Cottage Renovation Bucks

Whether you’re renovating your cottage to upgrade your summers (or winters!) or in preparation to sell, you’ll want to make the most of your budget. At the cottage, not every space is created equal so in this article we’ll tell you what architectural features to highlight and where to splash out for the best results.

Cottage living

Your cottage is not your primary residence. It’s a second recreational place designed to accommodate large groups of family and friends. In planning your renovations, keep in mind that you’ll want to maximize entertainment, cooking, and eating spaces for potentially many people or families.


Using existing features is one way to boost your reno budget and luckily, many cottages have gorgeous timber frames, logs, or beams. If you’re so lucky, expose these elements. Your guests (or potential buyers) will be charmed by the “bones” of the place.


You might not guess it, but beautiful and durable flooring is one of the most important things to address in your cottage. These are high-traffic spaces so you’ll need something that can withstand scuffs and scratches.

Consider hickory flooring instead of pine. It is one of the most durable wood options, requires minimal maintenance, and takes stains and finishes really well. It is more resistant to water damage compared to other hardwoods—perfect for when you’re running in from the lake or when installed in more humid climates. Hickory has a Janka Hardness rating of 1820, which puts it near the top of the scale for hardness. A general rule of thumb is to choose wood for flooring that has a hardness rating of 1,000 or above on the Janka Hardness Test.

Then once you’ve selected your flooring, make the investment of a quality installation.

Hardwood flooring example
Image from Craft Flooring


You know how at parties everyone ends up standing around in the kitchen? This can happen at the cottage too. Putting some extra bucks into the kitchen is a great idea in a place where many people, or even many families of people, prepare meals and socialize. Think about extra storage and if your cottage is on an island or in a remote place you might consider additional refrigeration. Imagine a space for 10-12 people instead of the 4-6 you might have at home.

(The bathroom, which would be a prime candidate for renovation at home, can probably rest lower on your priority list. In the summer, visitors might shower in the lake or outside.)


All those wet towels and dirty boots gotta go somewhere and a mudroom keeps them out of the way (and off the floors).

mudroom detail
Image from Cottage Home Company


Often overlooked in cottage settings, good lighting is an easy and functional way to elevate your space. Smart lighting is even better. Being able to set your lights on timers is a good security measure for when you’re away and saves energy in the evenings. Think about lighting in the planning stages and not as an afterthought.

cottage under construction


If you’re doing a full renovation, consider “smart” heating like Lutron. Turn on the heat and have the cottage warming up as you make the drive from the city.


A winterized cottage is habitable year-round. Not only does this give you a longer recreation season but it also opens up the possibility of using it as a rental property. And, it’s a huge bonus for potential buyers.

Cottage renovations don’t have to be out of reach. With a little planning, thought, and money, you can improve your experience and boost the value of your space.


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