Camp Cottage

Welcome to Wandawega Week!

What’s Wandawega Week, you ask? Well, it’s kind of like “Shark Week”, but instead of ginormous ocean waves, exploding with super scary sealife- think: a serene midwestern lake- filled with sweet little (non-ferocious) fishies instead. Oh, and a whole buncha this kind of awesomeness in a special series of blog posts over the next 5 days too…

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

This is Tereasa Surratt…

She’s one of my home improvement heroes and she’s created a magical little place in Wisconsin called Camp Wandawega.

It all started in 2004, when she got engaged to fellow advertising executive David Hernandez and they bought a tumbledown lakefront resort in Elkhorn, Wisconsin- 90 miles from their Chicago home.

Even though it needed tons of work, they thought it would make the perfect location for their wedding ceremony and, later, for weekend getaways.

Developed in the mid-1920s, the 25-acre piece of lake property they purchased served as home to many different businesses over the years. A speakeasy, a brothel, a modest vacation destination, and finally- a Catholic priest-run retreat for the Latvian community.

But to David, (who’s half-Latvian) the rustic camping resort was sacred ground. His extended family had vacationed there every summer since he was born, and each nook and cranny of the property held special childhood memories. “Going there felt like a fantasy,” David says. “It was a different world.”

When David initially took Tereasa out to see the place (several years before they got engaged) they left with a parting request to the elderly priest who owned it at the time: “If you ever decide to sell this place, call us first.

The good news call came five years later, and the couple snatched up all 25 acres. On it, sat four buildings (and all the furniture inside of them), an archery range, a basketball court, shuffleboard courts, a garage, two piers, and some horseshoe pits.

But years of deferred maintenance had left almost everything in a fragile state. Leaky, sagging roofs; critter squatters; and mildewed drapes were just a few of things that needed to be dealt with. So from the time they closed on the place in February of 2004, until their wedding date six months later, tons of friends pitched in on weekends to help them whip it back into shape.

Their marriage celebration also revealed the potential of their new purchase. With 25 bedrooms divided among the main lodge…

…an old hotel…

…and three small cabins…

…Camp Wandawega makes one heckuva place to entertain. Tereasa says, “It’s like summer camp for adults!”.

Tereasa’s decorating strategy is what she calls “found, flea, or free”, and she really has fun with the camping theme. She reupholsters chairs with wool blankets…

…and cable-knit varsity sweaters…

She decorates walls with vintage, fish-shaped jello molds…

…and old school art…

…and colorful fishing lures…

She also took this rundown kitchen from drab to fab on a $5000 budget…

And check out this shot of the amaaaazing collection of Fiestaware they discovered inside a boarded-up wall in the pantry…


Here are some shots from around the dark green-painted cabin that came with the property…


And the light and airy afters…

Here are some photos from the 3-bedroom, red and white cabin that overlooks the lake…

It was also on the property when they bought it, but Tereasa has given it a sweet & sunny facelift over the past few years…

Don’t you just love those vintage rackets and that pretty painted porch floor? *swoon*

The tiny green and white cottage (now nestled next to the green cottage) was a big time labor of love too…

Plucked from a weed-tangled truck yard in Beardstown, Illinois for $500, the crusty little cabin could barely stand when they purchased it…

Tereasa had had her eye on it since she was “knee-high to a grasshopper”, so David and his brother hauled it 300 miles over to their property on Lake Wandawega…

The white circle on the map below shows where it sits now…

(Take a virtual tour of the whole place at!)

When Tereasa got around to researching her little cottage-that-could, she discovered that it had several prior lives. In the 1920’s, it was an overnight rest stop for motoring tourists. After that, a rod-and-gun club used it for Friday night card games. Then in the 1950s, it served as the office for a trucking company. Eventually it became a storage shed and when Tereasa and David bought it, it was just sitting there, abandoned.

There’s nothing lonely about it today though…

(Photos by Aimee Herring)

…and would you believe Tereasa loved it back to life in just three months and with a budget of $300!?

I dream about moving an old cottage to a lake someday too, so of course this part of David and Tereasa’s Wandawega story was extra intriguing to me!


Tereasa wrote a beautiful book about her cottage-moving/restoring experience, and we thought we’d give away a signed copy here on our blog this week. (Thank you for joining in on the fun, Tereasa!)

Swing by tomorrow if you’d like to throw your name in the (virtual) hat, and stay tuned for more “Wandawega Week” posts to come too!

(Note: Photos in this post are linked to their sources if they were available.)

Click HERE to go to day two of Camp Wandawega Week!


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  1. says

    This has to be one of the most amazing posts I have ever read. It is a beautiful love story, really. I had to read it again. And again. I will be back tomorrow to throw my name into the hat! I lived in MN for a year and (happily) traveled extensively into Wisconsin for business each week. I told my boyfriend at the time (now hubby) we’d retire there someday. Now I remember why. Thank you so much for sharing. xoxo michele

    • Layla says

      Thank you Michele. You have no idea how incredibly happy your comment made me tonight. I’ve been working on this post for quite a while, and I had so much fun putting it together! SUCH a special couple, and SUCH a magical place! I hope to get a chance to take my Mom to Wandawega for a girls trip sometime soon, and sure would love it if you could roast a marshmallow with us too! :-D

      • says

        I had to come back again and show my hubby! He agrees, we must plan to visit next summer. I plan to link to this tomorrow in my post about the great outdoors. It has inspired me to action. Had to thank you again for this beauty, Layla – it has me dreaming and planning!!

        xoxo michele

  2. Amy F. says

    Her story is my dream! My husband humors me by listening and smiling at the right times but I’m so serious about finding a place just like Wandewega.

  3. says

    Wow, that is one amazing transformation! I so wish I had the money to do something like that! My dream is to find an old farmhouse with a few acres and do a total transformation. Great post!

  4. says

    What an amazing story! Camp Wandawega looks like the perfect place for summertime fun. Love everything about their restoration, just perfect.
    I’m a midwestern girl and growing up good times in the summer were always at the lake… gonna have to check this place out! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  5. says

    I have this book and really love it! It’s such a wonderful story! It’s great to read more about it and to see more pictures! Thanks for sharing! I hope I can find a place like this to own someday!

  6. says

    What an awesome project! I love that the priest who owned it actually called them. And the before and after pictures are unbelievable!!! I can’t believe the kitchen in the one.

  7. says

    OMG…I love this post. It is like stolling down memory lane. Reminds me of the cabin on the lake my Grandpa had when I was little. I also hope one day to have a little cabin nestled in the woods, now if I can just convince my hubby I’m not insane.
    I will be book marking this one for sure. Look forward to entering tomorrow.

  8. Kim says

    Great post, as usual! And so inspirational. We need to redecorate our basement – it is now vintage toddler/bachelor, lots of toys everywhere and my husband’s hideous bachelor furniture. This post may inspire a theme!

  9. says

    OOOOOO I so love this post and would love to go for a visit. It looks like the perfect place to find some peace and relax with the kids.

    Beardstown is one of our neighbors, so it was quite a surprise to read that one of the cottages came from there.

    I can’t wait to see what more you have in store for us this week.

  10. Carrie Allen says

    I love this post! Oh, how I’d love to visit this place. What a gem! Thank you for sharing with us all the wonderful pictures, virtual tour and story behind this dreamy place!

  11. says

    Amazing. And VERY moving. Teresa’s story also gives me a little hope. One day I want that same cabin on the lake as you do. :) Funny how some dreams never seem to completely dissipate….

    Wonderful post Layla!


  12. says

    wow. That´s such a lovely and peacefull place. And one day I really eant to spent some time there to take a rest of all the stress.
    Thank´s for showing this great resort to us :D
    Wish you a good start in to this new week.

  13. Barbara says

    Oh my gosh! Can I go? I’m still trying to decide which cabin is my favorite. Oh wow. So very cool.

    Love this post! Love them all, actually!

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Tina says

    I just loved reading this post while gulping my coffee down. My favorite par.t is the fact that real serine beauty came to life at low or no cost.. This is a true are in itself..

  15. kelly in georgia says

    That place is like “died and gone to heaven” gooooooood! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I have been seeing that book in Country living mag and keep contemplating buying it. I will be back tomorrow, but if I don’t get it here, I will definitely go out and buy it!

  16. Leslie says

    What a wonderful place! Tereasa and David are like the Layla and Kevin of the North Country. Thanks for sharing their fabulous renovations.

  17. says

    This little camp brought tears to my eyes. I live in a little beach community on the Chesapeake Bay and this is a bit how things looked when we first began to come here over 40 years ago. It reminds me of the summers of my childhood. So lovingly restored. I can’t wait to see more!

  18. says

    OMGoodness, I want to go to adult camp!!! This post is adorable, Layla. I recently saw her book advertised in Country Living Magazine. I think it is a neat story, and I’m sure I would love the book. I hope I win it! Thanks for hosting a fun giveaway, and posting such an amazing story.

    Ricki Jill

  19. says

    Amazing story!!! I could only dream of a place like that! Can you imagine the fun my boys would have there?! They certainly would love it if we had our on campground to live on.
    And I love the name, since my mom’s name was Wanda. :)
    Have a great week, Layla!

  20. Judy says

    What a labor of love…..I would love to take a trip over to Wisconsin and stay there for a day or two in that tiny little cabin….would love to see that book too!

  21. says

    MEMORIES!!! Light the corners of my mind :)

    I grew up going to northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin to resorts JUST like that….wow!
    Beautiful post and beautiful re do! I love, love how something broken and falling down was redone so beautiful and COMFORTABLE. It’s a place that is going to make wonderful memories for family and friends….it’s somewhere that just screams pull up a chair, relax, soak in all that is good!
    Thanks for sharing this Layla!
    Hugs from Iowa,
    Michelle at Pine Needle Hill

  22. Lynne says

    This was a wonderful “wakin up in Michigan” reflection for me this morning. I was born in Wisconsin, familiar with and have family who live near here and this brought back memories galore.

    Fabulous, simply fabulous pictorial storybook dream!
    thank you . . .

  23. Michelle says

    Just wanted to say thanks for featuring this beautiful little spot in Wisconsin! I grew up there, but am in FL temporarily while my husband finishes grad school. I go through severe bouts of homesickness quite often :) Any little reminder of my homeland sends my heart all a-flutter! Can’t wait for the rest of the week’s posts!

  24. says

    oh my GOODNESS! this is just awesome! i have always dreamed of doing something like this! what a labor of love and dream come true! thank you for the beautiful post and chance to look at before/afters! happy monday! :)

  25. Gail E says

    Loved this post! What a beautiful retreat … so inviting… a delightful place to spend making memories with friends and loved ones. Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to reading more this week.

  26. says

    WOW! What an awesome dream come true! They are one lucky couple and what fun they’ll have for years to come! Thanks so much for sharing all the lovely pictures. I can’t stop looking at them! :)

  27. says

    This post made me GIDDY. Oh my goodness. How wonderful! I am reminded of the camp I grew up attending and that sense of magic that would always come over me when I got out of the car upon arrival. It’s still my favorite place in the world and reading this post gave me that same feeling!!

  28. Bree C says

    This was an incredible post! What an amazing transformation and story. I want to go to adult summer camp! Thanks for sharing.

  29. says

    wow. that’s it, just wow. what an incredible place. i could get down with a lake-side vaca if it looked like that! {i’m a beach girl….}

  30. says

    I’ve been a little obssessed with this cottage since I first read the story in country living mag. I had NO IDEA what they had done with the lake resort! Amazing! such an inspiration!!! i would LOVE to be able to do something like this!

  31. Jo says

    Oh, what a beautiful story. Such talented people with such a love of nature and old things. I so want to vacation there. I would love to win that book and read all about it. Thanks for the story.

  32. says

    I LOVED this post Layla. Perfect summer spot. I love all the bright cheerful rooms. And for such a tiny budget…ahhhmazing! With our time constraints think full-time job and 4 busy kid schedules, we have not had time for a vacation. This reminded me how much we need to carve out some time for a much needed break.

  33. SuzG says

    What a delight! They are almost my neighbors! I love the care and heart they have invested in this gorgeous place. Cozy, beautiful, clever and so appealing. I love it.

  34. Rosemary says

    Oh my goodness, my heart is going pitter pat reading this article! I am so in love with this place!! Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve seen that book but had no idea of the story that went with it :)

  35. Kristen says

    LOVE. On every level this is an amazing story. What a beautiful, relaxing, peaceful and rewarding place that they’ve now made their own. I love that their backgrounds each had a unique and individual history leading them to this camp, first. Now they can connect the two roads that lead them each to this beautiful place that they can share for years, to someday look back and at that time only see one road behind them, theirs.

  36. Chris says

    Oh – I love this and can hardly wait to hear more (and more). I am in the process of reviving my family’s original homestead – and that includes the original house which has not been lived in since 1942. It is crumbling and if I don’t get it stabilized this summer there may be nothing to restore. So that’s the plan right now. This post gives me so much inspiration!!

  37. maggie says

    what an amazing place! I have to comment on the Fiesta ware. I’ve been collecting it since I got married. My grandmother had it and I’ve been in love with it my whole life. But I have to mention that old Fiesta had lead in the glaze. Your friend should do some research and try to figure out how old her plates are if she plans on eating off them. Otherwise, they still look pretty on the shelf.

  38. says

    This is simply amazing! I commend this couple for bringing this little lake resort back to life. I have to run over and check out the web page right now!

  39. Dominique E says

    Wow!!! My husband and I have a very similar dream. We call it our “Grandpa land”, so that our children (whom are yet to be adopted) can bring their children and have great memories with us. We are still looking for a piece of land to fall in love with. Thank you for sharing and can’t wait to read and see more!

  40. Michelle Wright says

    This is just amazing place. They did a wonderful job. This place is so ~ so amazing. Wish there was more places like this.

  41. stacy lovoy says

    WOW! What an inspirational place! I have added Camp Wandawega to one of the family vacation musts spots! So lovely and not commercial at all! These types of places are so rare these days! Hats off to a lovely couple!

  42. Cyndi says

    What a fun Monday morning read. It makes me wish I was at a cabin in Wisconsin instead of sitting at my desk in Minnesota!

  43. says

    Oh, this place looks incredible!! Love all of the updates and how they fit the spaces SO well. I could see myself spending several wonderful and productive hours writing in a place like this…

  44. Jane Crawford says

    THIS IS FREAKIN’ AMAZING. Thank you so much for sharing. This Southern gal has been intrigued with the lakes in that area since Kid Rock’s song “All Summer Long” This looks just like I imagine the lake in the song. I especially want to go there during this time of the year when we are sweltering away down here in hot, sticky, muggy Florida!

  45. says

    I swear, this post caused me physical pain….really it did. It’s so beautiful and inspiring and just so…so….incredible that they brought this magical place back to life. Thanks SO much for sharing the information with all of us who can only dream. If I don’t win this book, I’m buying it anyway. Now, I’ll just go wipe the drool off my chin.

    Blessings to all who stay at Lake Wanda- what-the heck-was it called?

  46. says

    This is an amazing post! They are so lucky that they were able to buy that land! Their family will have so many memories there for years to come.

  47. Jewel says

    Loved reading about this special place! I live in Wisconsin and have always dreamed of owning a cute place like this. Tereasa and David have done amazing things to bring this place back to life.

  48. Beth Moore says

    What a fabulous lake-side resort with so much charm! After having visited their website I also discovered that the owners’ sense of humor is equal to if not even greater than the charm of their cottages! This is definitely a place I want to add to my “must-see” list of US destinations! Thanks you so much for the chance to win her book about that sweet little cottage!

  49. says

    They did such a wonderful job. I can’t believe how cute and cozy it is. It makes me want to fly up there to spend a weekend. Great post, I can’t wait to try and win their book!

  50. lee ashley says

    Oh my…this is my dream…every time we go on vacation to the countryside we think about buying up an old place and giving it new life. Even if I don’t *win* the book, I’m going to buy it and read it cover to cover! Thank you SO much Layla, for an amazing post!

  51. Cindy says

    I entertain all the lime. Always have someone spending the night, Weekend or week. Love the space and recreation of the Lake cottages.

  52. Renae says

    This would be my dream come true. We just got back from a week at a resort in Minnesota and while it’s not quite rustic enough for me, it got us talking. Then I came home and looked at a BHG mag from last summer where four couples bought a rundown camp and redid everything. The movie Indian Summer has always struck me as the perfect scenario for a camp…now i’m even more inspired to make something like this for us. Maybe in our own home. :) So do all three of these (Minnesota, the BHG mag and now this post) “mean” something? Coincidence? Maybe not!

  53. Debbie says

    What an amazing post Layla! It just made my heart go pitter patter! So calm, so serene, so inviting, and such an incredibly warm, welcoming place! I am in love! I even shared it with my friends and family by email and posted it on my Facebook! Thank you so very much for sharing! You made my Monday!

  54. says

    Wow, what a beautiful property. So inviting, relaxing and down to earth. This is the type of place that makes you want to cherish every moment of every day.

  55. Carmen says

    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing transformation. What a dream come true! I love the inspiration this story tells and how one can transform their dreams into reality.

    Have a wonderful week!

  56. Kelly says

    Wow, that is pretty much in our backyard (we live on the NW side of Chicago)! Very neat post, may have to check that out. A lake house would be lovely…..need to cobble the pennies together.

  57. debbie says

    that is awesome. i want to take my family and all my sisters and brother and all the neices and nephews and move into that place. How blessed they are to have that. That was great Layla.

  58. Becca says

    I live just a mile from Lake Wandawega and I had no idea this was there! Great post. I hope to live on the water someday!

  59. Rachael says

    Wow! This is one of the most amazing and beautiful places ever! What a lovely post! Thanks so much for sharing this magical place!

  60. Melinda says

    What an amazing and wonderful place. Almost makes me feel more rested having read the post! I would love a chance to receive the book and escape further into the camp experience. Thanks Layla!

  61. Linda says

    Is this question “legal?” Where did tereasa find/buy the lights hanging above their kitchen island? I am looking for something like this (something untraditional and with character) to use in our bathroom remodel but am having difficulty finding similar pieces.
    BTY: I LOVE your site and check it daily!

  62. says

    wow – what a dream come true!!! I would love to own the camp i went to in the Texas Hill Country!!! how lucky are they????!!!

    love you!

  63. Carrie says

    I am swooning after reading your post. I grew up in MN & spent my summers at my grandparents lake cabin which they began building in the late 1940’s so Camp Wandewega brought back sweet “vintage” memories for me. This couple is living a dream of mine.

  64. Bev says

    That is so amazing…….. If more family could retreat to a place like that more families would stay together !!!! Love it

  65. Dawn says

    Wow! Yet another wonderful post, Layla! What a fantastic story and such inspiring photos! Thanks for sharing all of it with us! Thank Tereasa too! Great work by both of you! I’ll be back tomorrow to throw my hat in the pot for that scrumptious book!

  66. says


    Thank you for this wonderful post about rehabbing historical buildings and honoring history. Tereasa and David did an incredible job updating with much needed features while remaining true to the camps origin. Will be back tomorrow! (Save me a spot around that campfire. I plan on roasting some marshmallows with you and Jude!)

    Your Friend,

  67. Shannon C says

    What perfect timing on this post. I just spent the weekend at my childhood cabin in Wisconsin and it brought back so many memories. What an awesome story.

  68. Lisa says

    Love this post! Makes me so happy to see such a wonderful place “brought back to life!” It reminds me of a special place in the Adirondacks of New York that we’ve been to with friends and family :)

  69. Jana says

    Wow, Layla! Your post made me want to jump in my car and head straight for Wandawega! What a refreshing escape for one’s soul. A beautiful place. A beautiful story. Thanks for the post.

  70. says

    So evocative! I bought Teresa’s book about the tiny cottage when it first came out. Wisconsin lake sounds mighty fine right in the middle of this hot n’ sticky Georgia summer. Save me a log at the campfire, Layla. Hey–writer’s retreat????

    • Layla says

      YES!!! Mom and I are hitting the road for Minnesota (and Wandawega!) in October….wanna meet us there? ;-)

  71. Amy Wathen says

    Ahhhh LOVE this. I started reading and thought this reminds me of that book I want…. I kept reading and fell in love… then I came to the end and saw it IS THE BOOK I WANT. Thanks for a great giveaway. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  72. says

    El, you were not joking! I am in love with every little thing about this post. The camp is purely delicious and your words were every bit as wonderful. You sure are great at what you do, dear. :)

  73. says

    Oh my what an adorable place. I could live there year yound. The cottages and the grounds and well, all of it are so breathtaking. What a fantastic job they did on such a wonderful place!

  74. says

    Wow talk about the project of a lifetime! So thankful there’s still people out there to restore heritage locations like that. They did amazing work!! :)

  75. Heidi says

    This was a wonderful read accompanied by gorgeous shots…it kept me company (smiling and dreaming) while up late last night….THANK YOU!!! :)

  76. says

  77. says

    Nice post. thanks for linking back to my Wanda posts. T+D are super creative people and have built a wonderful and magical place with Wandawega. I love visiting.

  78. gina says

    Wow, what a place. I’d love to spend some time there. Cannot wait to read more about it. I’ll be back to throw my name in the hat for the book. Really hope I win! What a wonderful story…thanks for sharing.

  79. Karen says

    I LOVE THIS STORY!! All the photos were a real plus. Hurray for this couple and all the hard work they put into this. It looks like it would be so much fun to “play” there!! Very inspiring story.

  80. Debbie says

    Hi Layla, What a sweet little get away spot. I know they had a ball fixing it all up. I would love to read her book about her little cabin that she moved in. I started to order it once before but didn’t. I sure would like to win on. Thanks alot!!!!! Debbie G

  81. Melanie says

    i know the camp will make so many visitors happy just as this post has made me feel= The place looks gorgeous! it so inviting. Excellent work-love the photos as well!

  82. says

    Oh! I just saw that book at Borders recently and was so intrigued! Can’t wait to throw my name into the hat…and to head over to their website to find out more about their property! And seriously, hidden Fiestaware?? How awesome is that?!

  83. says

    Layla, of all the beautiful and inspiring posts on TLC, this is the most beautiful and inspiring. Such a treasure for Thereasa and her husband. Thanks for sharing.

  84. says

    Awesome series, Lay! Simply gorgeous and as inspiring as always. I posted the first of my renovation posts today for our own beach cottage and it was so fun to come here right after and see this lake cottage reno, woot woot! and they are right across the lake! Love you!

  85. Sharlyn LePage says

    Such an awesome place. Their own little world, for sure. Thanks for sharing such wonderful pics.

  86. Tina Byford says

    Oh my goodness…….it is breathtaking! I love the beach but think I could quickly fall in love with this Lake! The transformation is unbelievable and I know they have put lots of hard work into it and it shows! Can’t wait to check out her blog!

  87. Heather says

    Oh my stars and garters!!!! This post made me positively flutter! I LOVE their ideas, their vision, and their lovely camp. What a WONDERFUL idea for a wedding site. I will SO be putting y name in the hat!!!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this.

  88. Kelly says

    How incredible, fun, peaceful, beautiful, and special!!! The post you did on it was great, too! :)

  89. Beverly Palmer says

    I never dreamed about ever going to Wisconsin until this post. The way you wrote about Wadanwega Resort and the pictures you posted, well I could almost smell the lake and feel the breeze coming off of it. It made me want to take my husband and all 3 kiddos (and our dog Thomas) there for vacation. Absolutely beautiful!

  90. says

    I hadn’t yet read this post (catching up after a week of lovely vacation) but I remember reading about this couple in a magazine a few years back. One detail stood out: if memory serves me well, this is the girl who bought all the equipment to make maple syrup only to find out there wasn’t a single maple tree on the property. I love her spirit!


  91. Melanie says

    LOVED this post! I’m just 30 MIN from Beardstown IL. How fun to put a post with a location. I enjoyed this and hope to do some fun things with our new Cottage!

  92. Linda says

    I was born and raised in Wisconsin….and subsequently moved out and on with my life in other parts of America. Still love going back home, and deeply relate to the cottage on the lake lifestyle and am thrilled to see so many people hankering for the experience.

  93. Denise says

    Maravilhoso seu blog! Estou conhecendo agora e já estou apaixonada por tanta inspiração , beleza , bom gosto e muito arte!
    Denise Moro

  94. says

    What a beautiful history!
    I had to forward this to my husband.
    Guess what? He loved it!
    I guess we will have to plan a trip… :)
    Thanks, Layla, for sharing this sweet story! :)

  95. Cheryl F says

    Teresa is liviing my dream. Seriously, this has been one of my dreams since I was a little girl. Our family used to visit a resort in Bracebridge Ontario that went up for sale a couple of years ago. Of course there was no way I could afford the multi million dollar price tag. I couldn’t find any news of the plans for the resort and then I found a facebook group and began to absorb the bad news. The new owners tore down every beautiful old building thinking they would sell the gorgeous lakefront property as 3 lots. Their plans were never approved and the land sits empty except for the ghosts of summers past. It was devasting to see the bare land where cabins and lodges used to be, where families used to bond, and play, and laugh for generations. It warms my heart to see Teresa and her family bring life and laughter back to such a beautiful spot.
    Cottage life really is something I am very passionate about – I will be a cottage owner one day!
    Can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings on your blog!!
    Cheryl F.

  96. Diane says

    i remember when this cottage was in country living
    didn’t know there was an extra 25 acres
    how great

  97. Linda says

    You have indeed created your own little Heaven! I love your decorating strategy of “found, flea, or free” and am SO ENVIOUS of your ability to look at something and envision what it could be. The white kitchen with its light fixtures, cabinet pulls, penny candy canisters, and the cupboard with the punched tin drawers especially appealed to me. The red and white cabin overlooking the lake appeals to my “live simply quest.” I can imagine summer slipping into fall.. What a beautiful respite from the hectic pace of today’s existence. I can’t wait to read your future posts.

  98. Kelly Martin says

    My 15-year-old daughter and I absolutely loved reading about this beautiful resort. We poured over every picture and creative description. Thanks for sharing!

  99. says

    I am literally brought to tears at reading all of these posts…..
    I am so incredibly humbled that our little projects could inspire folks.
    and so greatful to you, layla- for choosing to share our little story with all of your friends. it is so much fun to find other folks that share interests with you. thank you- sincerely and truly- you made our year!!!

  100. Karen says

    Absolutely love this post. I recalled seeing a bit about this cabin last year when a cousin of mine referenced it in her little family blog. I loved hearing so much more about it.

  101. susan beaty says

    i read about this in i believe eithr country living or bh and g. ive wanted to get it for a long time, just not able to do so.would be fantastic to win this. thanks for the giveaway:)

  102. Rhonda G says

    Wow, they are truly “livin’ the dream” and with such grace and style. I love that Teresa has such an eye for her transformations on a budget. Just goes to show how far your imagination can take you. Loved this post, one of your best!

  103. Bethe says

    What a lovely, lovely story! Beautiful pictures and a delightful story to match. You really don’t have to be a Vanderbilt, just have a vision and patience and a willingness to work hard. Congratulations to them both and thanks for sharing Layla.

  104. zandermom says

    How inspiring and relaxing just viewing your blog! The camp is a child/adult’s dream – the way life should be lived. Thanks for the post.

  105. says

    Wow! That is amazing! Truly inspirational and gorgeous! Great. Now I want a broken down camp too.
    (I’m in CA, and my pastor is from Chicago. His last name is Surratt. I wonder if there is any relation..?)

  106. says

    OMG OMG how amazing my heart is a flutter I am speech less they so deserve Wandawega isn’t is just the best sorry I missed the giveaway but thats ok I am just so pleased I got to read all about this talented family :))))

  107. says

    I’m in love! What a beautiful post for a beautiful place. We live on a hill overlooking a lake in middle TN, and I am trying to achieve this same kind of fun/ timeless decorating at our house too. I grew up around all the wonderful lake camps in Maine, and hope to bring this relaxed feeling to our home on a half a shoestring budget. Thank you so much for sharing!

  108. says

    LOVELOVELOVE this! Camp Wandawega is a dream come true – it would be fabulous to find an opportunity like this here in NW Pennsylvania. I especially enjoy that everything about Wandawega is a Labor of Love – there are no commercial restraints/ridiculous expenses. Right down to the fabulous chair re-dos and the “Modest Little Cottage.”

  109. says

    Oh My Gosh Layla, I am getting so many great ideas for our lakehouse by reading about Camp Wandawega! Thank you Thank you!

    The offer to come help me, still stands! If you want a lake project of your own! ~Dana

  110. Amy says

    Awesome post! Have seen the book and live 45 minutes away in an area called “Lake Country”. WI is beautiful and the lakes are everywhere. This is awesome though. Would love to meet them and visit there!! Thanks for this great post:)

  111. says

    OMG I’m dying. Not only is she beyond talented – I love everything she has done and I could stay here forever.

  112. says

    I missed this the first time around (thanks for the reminder and I hope you’re having a great trip!). What a great story and amazing transformation. Wow! A dream come true and they did an outstanding job! It’s gorgeous and looks like a wonderful, relaxing place to retreat!

  113. says

    What a great story and what a great place! I love it, and the little cabin reminds me of a little cabin we have on our property. This post has given me some ideas to do with mine. I really love the idea of using colorful fishing lures as a decor item. Perfect.

  114. says

    I have been obsessed with Camp Wandawega for quite some time now even though I’ve never been there. I definitely plan to visit this upcoming summer. This post was lovely, thank you for sharing!

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