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My Cabin: Adirondack Décor Touches

Blending past and present in a small lake cabin

Story & photos by Lisa Hogan
Cabin location: Oswegatchie, N.Y.
Published: June 1, 2012
Sucker Lake Adirondack cabin
THE BEST SEATS AT THE CABIN – Bright green Adirondack chairs stand out against the Hogans’ red cabin, inviting guests to recline and enjoy the calming view of Sucker Lake.
My strong affinity for the Adirondacks began in the 1960s, when I vacationed with my family at Big Moose Lake and Whiteface Mountain near Jay, N.Y. Several years later, I spent time exploring and camping with my older brother.

As an active lover of the outdoors, I enthusiastically introduced my husband, Tom, to the Adirondack lifestyle of hiking, camping, canoeing, and kayaking, which led to a two-year search for our cozy cabin in the woods.

Although our original quest for a cabin was in the central Adirondacks, we quickly realized that the wilderness and communities of the northwest Adirondacks offered more respite and recreation than we originally expected.
Sucker Lake Adirondack cabin
CAPTURING THE LAKESIDE VIEW – To make the most of their cabin’s lakefront orientation, Lisa and Tom Hogan added a 600-square-foot wraparound deck with stairs down to the shoreline.
By kayak, we inspected a waterfront property for sale on a little, nonmotorized fishing lake named “Sucker Lake,” famous for brown trout and large- and smallmouth bass.

Located in Oswegatchie, N.Y., Sucker Lake is a “stone’s throw away” from Five Ponds Wilderness, the largest and most remote wild forest east of the Mississippi. While exploring the property, I smelled pine pitch and deep-woods duff in the mountain air.

The year-round, two-bedroom, one-bath cabin was built in 1965 on boulders deposited from the last Ice Age, and it offered 1,000 square feet of good bones. A tin roof, new windows, propane furnace, electric baseboard heat, and relatively new kitchen cupboards provided a sound basis from which to begin cabin life.

We simply couldn’t resist the fieldstone fireplace’s high hearth surrounded by knotty pine, the 290 feet of glistening waterfront that spread out just 50 feet from the cottage, and the property’s fully matured white pine, birch and hemlock trees. We made an offer in December 2004.

The northwest Adirondacks area was easy to embrace with its vast primeval wilderness rich in history, a variety of available recreational activities, and its kind, uncomplicated people.
Sucker Lake Adirondack cabin dock
DREAM DOCK – Adirondack chairs enhance conversations over coffee.
When deciding how to renovate our newly found cabin, we chose to capture this most primitive and remote environment by blending past with present. We added a 600-square-foot wraparound deck with a decorative cedar-timber railing, which offers panoramic views of the Panther and Sugarloaf Mountains as well as Sucker
Lake below. It also provides plenty of cozy seating areas for enjoying hot summer days and the chill of early autumn.

We removed the yellow shutters and painted the dark-brown structure red. The white interior walls came to life with deep red, pumpkin orange and forest green paint. Local trees were the sources for birch and cedar trim and pine floors.

We also hand-picked cured birch trees from the woods and used them to install floor-to-ceiling bark-on birch bookshelves. Tom’s library serves as the lake’s neighborhood library and includes many Adirondack tales.
Sucker Lake Adirondack cabin
ADIRONDACK FLAIR – Lisa’s décor choices include birch logs and rich, warm colors inspired by her cabin’s location.
Rustic terra-cotta tile was installed over vinyl linoleum floor in the bathroom, living room and kitchen. We used a black-based vintage floral patterned wallpaper in the bathroom and replaced many doors with ones we found in an antique store in Saranac Lake.

Finally, in an effort to blend old with new, I selected Adirondack-style furnishings from various antique shops, flea markets, and even retail stores.

An antique candelabra lit with locally made beeswax candles provides a halo above the two cedar chairs on the covered front porch (see photo on p. 42), from which you can hear wind through the pines and rain tapping on the tin roof while still celebrating outdoor living. On the dock, two Adirondack chairs serve as a platform for morning coffee and good conversation.

We’ve found that our Sucker Lake cabin experience directly reflects the lifestyle of the northwest Adirondacks. We cherish both the availability of various recreational activities and the sweet blend of natural beauty and history.
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