home + garden

Home Renovation Ideas for Summer Cottage

Home Renovation Ideasimage credit: Carolyn Collins
One of things I love most about having a blog, is that I’ve heard from lots of people who I had lost contact with.  This “Ask Sara” question is from Carolyn Collins, who  worked for Hecht’s Department Stores when I worked for Ralph Lauren.  We always enjoyed our work time together.  She and her husband have a summer cottage in Sherwood Forest, Maryland that they’re renovating and they need some home renovation ideas.  Their summer cottage sits on the Severn river, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Carolyn writes, “I have a large lower-level area in our summer cottage with a concrete floor, currently covered in carpet tile squares that are 12” x 12” which I’d like to get rid of.  I know I can put new carpet tiles down, but I wondered if you knew how to refinish the concrete floor and then seal it.  It has mastic (very sticky glue) that will need to be removed, first, so that’s another problem.”

Concrete floor ideas

Image credit: Carolyn Collins
Carolyn adds, “I really hate the carpet squares, but I cannot afford tile.  We have renovated the upstairs (pictured above) and great room with a little wet bar and now we must do the lower level.  I’d also like to get rid of the of the florescent lights since the ceiling is low, but we cannot change the height.  Any ideas you have, I’d love to hear from you and thanks for the help!”

Carolyn, the upstairs looks great!  Your choice of furnishings and colors are tastefully done.  I checked with Kenton Wiens, Commercial Designer/Developer, about your concrete floors.  Here are the steps hes suggested for removing the carpet squares and treatment of the concrete underneath.

  1. Remove carpet squares with a scrapper and if they won’t peel up, try pouring  very hot water on them.  This should break the glue down enough to remove the squares.  You may also need to use a very sharp scrapper.  This will be a sticky, messy job.
  2. For the glue residue/mastic, hot water, scrapping, and elbow grease may do the trick.  If not, you may need to use a solvent.  Check with a local paint store in your area to see what products they recommend.
  3. Once the carpet squares and glue are gone, use a disc-floor sander to sand down the concrete floors.
  4. You could also rent a concrete grinder to take top layer off of concrete.  Begin with a rough grind and then finish with a fine grind.

Home Renovation Ideas

Image credit: Carolyn Collins
Once you’ve gotten your floor looking cleaned up, Kenton suggested two different finishes for your concrete, both will seal the floor.

  1. Penetrating sealant – acts like oil and soaks into concrete.  This will produce a matte finish when applied.
  2. Glossy finish – which sits on top of concrete.  This will wear off faster in high traffic areas.

For the low ceilings and fluorescent lights, I’d remove the drop ceiling and leave the ceiling open rafters.  Add industrial lighting to brighten up this level.  By renting a sprayer and putting a coat of bright, white paint on all the surfaces, the room will seem taller and brighter.  Here’s a picture of our basement where we did these very steps.  I like the look of the metal lights and didn’t paint those.  Tape off before painting.

Basement ceiling ideas

Thanks to Kenton Wiens for his expert help with this project.  One of his recent projects was the Laurelhurst Market on E. Burnside in Portland, Oregon.

Kenton can be reached at:  Kenton.Dialog at gmail.com if you’d like to contact him directly.

I hope these tips help and good luck, Carolyn, please let me know how it turns out.

Go Gingham related links:

The chalkboard in our basement
Our latest home renovation project – the bathroom
How to hire a contractor and a DIY project we didn’t do
Laundry chute evolution
How to keep a house project sustainable
Do you have a question for me? Check here – Ask Sara

Find more simple, natural solutions check out Mother’s Natural Network by clicking the image below:

10 thoughts on “Home Renovation Ideas for Summer Cottage

    1. Thanks, Annie! You probably have them in your basement. They’re nice and cool in summer…. 🙂


  1. Wow, this is really timely for us. We have horrible carpet glued to the concrete in our basement family room. Removing it is on our short list of summer projects. Thanks for all the great info!


    1. Rita, you’re welcome! We’ve dealt with plenty of floors with sticky glue – good luck. I don’t envy that part of the project but it will look great when it’s done!


  2. I’ve seen some very nice painted concrete floors, ie a design painted onto the floor. And I like the idea of removing the dropped ceiling, and leaving the joists/beams exposed. I’m partial to vintage industrial lighting, the kind of thing you’d find in an old factory or warehouse.


    1. Lili, I like the painted concrete floors, too. We painted our basement concrete floors and they’ve held up pretty well. The bathroom has a diamond shape pattern painted on it. It’s starting to peel in a couple of places but it’s been probably 11 or so years. I’m with you on the industrial lighting!! Thanks for leaving a comment.


  3. I am a bit of a fan of polished concrete- it can look so gorgeous but has to be done really well and it’s a very messy job! Beautiful cottage though-wow! I loved that you linked this up at Seasonal Celebration Sunday Sara- thank you! Rebecca@Natural Mothers Network x


  4. Love the idea of leaving the basement ceiling with the floor joists exposed. However, What do you do about all the unsightly flex ductwork and electrical wiring?


    1. Hi Etna,
      For many items in the basement, I just painted right over them including the duct work and electrical. New (read neat and pretty copper) plumbing I taped off and left copper and pretty. Wires that I needed to know “what was what” I taped off. Using masking tape kept the job of taping off easy. I also didn’t paint the metal/industrial looking lights because that was the look I was going for. Good question! Thanks for asking.


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