CABIN FEVER: Part 1
I guess you could say the artistic blood runs in the family. My mother, Sandra Epp, is an Interior Decorator and has been pursuing creative projects her whole life. From painting pillows, to creating sculptures out of old sewing machines, this woman has DONE IT ALL. She is the true definition of a creative and is always on the hunt for a new and exciting project. She has truly blessed me with an eye for eclecticism, a thirst for adventure and an appetite for unusual opportunities.
Last summer, my mother had the chance to work at Manitou Beach for the Prairie Sculpture Symposium. She created a beautiful sculpture out of wire mesh, cement, a mannequin and various found objects. While she was at her symposium, she met various interesting locals, and started showcasing some of her work at Little Manitou Art Gallery. She fell in love with the artistic town and people of Manitou Beach, and hoped and prayed for more great opportunities to present themselves.
Sometimes life gives you more lemons than you even know what to do with! An exciting challenge emerged in Manitou Beach for her and I to ponder. Judy, a wonderful teacher from Edmonton, had a very original and rustic 1930's cottage for sale, which sparked my mom's interest. It had been sitting on the market for a long time with no bites, and needed some fresh perspective. My mom offered to stage and refresh the cottage this summer, if it meant some lake time with her kids at her favourite Manitou Beach. She asked for my help and of course I said an enthusiastic "YES!", and so our vision was sparked.
We made our way up to Manitou Beach to scope out the renovation project we had in store for us. It was a chilly morning, and we knew there was no furnace, or even hot water, so we brought our little space heater and lots of blankets to keep us warm. Little did we know, we would have no electricity upon arrival. We called SaskPower, but to no avail. The power would not be turned on till the next day. We could nearly see our breath, but we made it this far, so we made the vow to make the most of our day, and kept ourselves busy to keep warm. We aren’t the quittin’ kind.
Bryan Mierau, the local esteemed photographer mom had met through the Manitou newspaper, stopped by to take some before photos and have a little chuckle on our current state of affairs. We even had the neighbours, Sarah and Clayton from Little Manitou Art Gallery, stop by to generously offer us their guest room for the night, in case we got too cold.
The space was full of quirks, with various types of wood panelling, rough painted wood floors, and mismatched retro wallpaper that was peeling and buckling. There was an oven in the living room, and exposed pipes all over the place. The charm outweighed the defects however, regardless of the challenging state of the place.
With very little budget, we had to make a plan of action to whip this place into shape, mother-daughter style. We had a vision of creating a whimsical and quirky space that embraced the existing retro infrastructure and work with what we had.
We started by peeling the dried, decrepit wallpaper in the living room that was nearly falling off. We stripped the musty curtains, rearranged the existing furniture, and did some cleaning. We pulled out all the linens that smelt of mildew and put the ones that could be salvaged into a laundering pile. We took inventory of what we had, and made a list of what we needed. We decided to take a little break to warm up at Manitou Springs so we could make it through the cold night ahead.
After, some brainstorming at the spa, we decided the solution for the space was to work with local artisans and shops to stage the cabin in a way that benefitted the community and showcased some local talent. We wanted to put together a little design workspace for mom's artwork and also display the space for potential buyers.
We made it through our first night, with all the blankets we could scrounge up, and all the layers we could find. We didn’t hear any bumps in the night or hear any little critters scurrying across the floor. I’d say our first night was a success. We are back to the city for now, but we’ve got a plan of action for our next trip.
We’ve got all sorts of tricks up our sleeve for how we are going to make this place over. We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us, but it’s going to be one fun project. Stay tuned for updates as it progresses!
Photos by Bryan Mierau (except for the first one)