Janet and Jerry Colbry’s camp on northern Maine’s Sebec Lake has been in the family since the 1940s, when an uncle built the original 12x12-foot log structure from trees harvested on the property. In Maine, cabins are called “camps,” and this camp was built to be used as a hunting and summer retreat—just enough shelter to get out of the weather.
Eventually, the log cabin was moved to a new location on the property and had a living area and screen porch added. The log portion of the cabin became the kitchen. And while it was cozy and nostalgic, the camp kitchen was also increasingly troublesome.
When Janet and Bob bought the property from her uncle in 1995, they knew something would have to be done with the kitchen eventually. The underpinnings of the log structure were rotten, creating kitchen cabinets that wouldn’t shut and a floor that heaved with the weather. Mice found their way through the cracks and crevices. The kitchen leaned.
“It was a hard decision,” Janet said. “Ultimately, it was the pest invasions that drove us to our decision to tear the kitchen off and build a new one. We arrived a few springs ago to find that a squirrel had chewed a hole right through the wall.”
Contractors offered plenty of solutions, but to save the log structure would cost more than building an entirely new addition.
“We loved the original cabin with its authentic look and feel,” said Jane, who spends six months of the year living at the camp. “If it had been at all possible to keep the existing structure, we would have gone that route. It just wasn’t a financially sound decision.”
Having come to terms with letting the little log kitchen go, Janet created a Pinterest “Kitchen Camp Remodel” board and over the period of a few years, began gathering ideas. When it came time to put plans to paper, she was ready to show the builder and architect an aesthetic that spoke to her heart.
“A larger space was a must, with a cathedral ceiling and log beams,” she said. “As well as a pantry closet with sliding barn doors. In a camp with only one closet, this was a must-have!”
The rustic, northern Maine feeling would be brought to life with pine tongue-and-groove walls with peeled spruce log beams, stained to make them stand out from the other wood tones in the kitchen. Plenty of windows would bring light, which would be a welcome change from the dark log kitchen. Additionally, a sliding glass door leading to a new wrap-around deck opened the kitchen to the outdoors.
The larger footprint brought more seating, including stools at the kitchen island. Like all kitchens, this is the gathering place for family. All nine family members can eat a meal together now, which Janet loves.
“Go for it, do what you want to do,” is Janet’s advice. “This kitchen is my dream kitchen, and I didn’t compromise on anything. It’s perfect.”
See also: Should You Renovate or Rebuild?