Lessons From Camp: Cottage Inspiration for Home, Via Houzz.com
Embrace the bones, and 11 other design tips from a reborn summer camp in the woods of Wisconsin
With findings from the spread of camp regalia and avid scavenging on Craigslist, yard sales, eBay and businesses about to close, the couple refurbished and renewed the spaces with care. They didn’t remodel — the plumbing still creaks from over 86 years of use — but they did put hours of TLC into equipping the camp with comfortable, stylish furnishings.
In addition to being a mother, running camp, designing interiors and working as an advertising executive at Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago, Surratt wrote a book on the camp’s redesign (Found, Free, and Flea). We talked with her about her style and collected her tips for bringing the rustic camp vibe to your home.
She found the table on Craigslist, and against the wall she stacked a few picnic boxes and an old radio. The ceiling and walls were painted a flat white, and they let the rest of the room “act as a frame for the collection.”
Then, there’s storage. “The baskets came from a bowling alley and held bowling shoes,” Surratt says. Now they hold dried spices, towels and kitchen supplies.
The brass bed was a Craigslist find, and the stacked suitcases were collected from flea markets during Surratt’s travels. The collage of ephemera on the wall was collected locally. She encourages people to decorate with “found artifacts, local to wherever you happen to be.”
The fireplace, which Surratt found on Craigslist for $25, doesn’t work. “I wouldn’t recommend burning wood in a treehouse anyway,” she pointed out.
In the decor, found objects abound. The chandelier was made from antlers shed on the property, and the metal trunk near the sleeping area was brought to the States over 120 years ago as luggage (the tag still reads, in broken English, “Amerika”).
In this bedroom, Surratt’s design choices emulate the feel of the outside color palette.
She found the simple chair at a yard sale for $10, and the drapes are from Ikea. “Farmhouses weren’t fancy,” Surratt explains. And the idea of custom curtains on an ancient camp seems antithetical to the place’s aura. “It filters light and offers a little privacy,” she says, and at Camp Wandawega, that’s more than enough.
In addition to scavenging Craigslist, she also uses eBay on her hunts, searching nearby offerings.
Because something like a mural is so dominant, she advises of bold design choices: “Don’t block them and don’t compete with them.”
The humble design approach is inexpensive and isn’t swayed by trends. “It’s taken 60 years for people to come back to something simple and normal,” Surratt noted. And now, for Wandawega at least, it’s time to stay there.
In this space Surratt added studs and drywall and sectioned off a functional area for kitchen prep and storage. “It was inspired by Downton Abbey,” she confides, but it’s also a convenient way to corner off a functional space in an otherwise unused area of the house. The door is made of pine and slides to access the rest of the basement.
Tying the spare elements together are the tapestries — one design element made manifest in various small touches. There’s some on the piano bench by the easel, some on the pillows, lots on the rug. She painted the floor black so it “visually receded,” leaving the focus on the textiles.