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Our Fixer Upper by the Sea

This is long. Sorry. Some of you are aware that Mr FPM and I have a little house in Lunenburg Nova Scotia. More specifically just outside in Blue Rocks – an extremely quaint and charming and super picturesque fishing village. It’s often reffered to as more beautiful than Peggy’s Cove and not touristy,  unique and…


This is long. Sorry. Some of you are aware that Mr FPM and I have a little house in Lunenburg Nova Scotia. More specifically just outside in Blue Rocks – an extremely quaint and charming and super picturesque fishing village. It’s often reffered to as more beautiful than Peggy’s Cove and not touristy,  unique and unspoiled beauty.

Our deck view

Our view from our Haven by the Sea Blue Rocks NS - Front Porch Mercantile

at the end of our driveway…for real….it’s gorgeous

our view Front Porch Mercantile photo by John Batten

Our kayak got a bit of use from the wharf

kayaking in Blue Rocks - Front Porch Mercantile

Pretty right?

We are about to embark on what we are referring to as “Round 2 of renovation”. It’s not fancy. It’s not a big fancy pants Captains House with period details and winding staircases.  It’s small. It’s 100 plus years old. Big emphasis on the plus. It’s rustic. It needs a lot of re loving. A lot. I won’t lie. But, it’s on the ocean, it’s outside of our favourite town of Lunenburg, has the most amazing view. We can kayak from the wharf in our front yard, we can hear the fog horn on beautiful foggy days and waves crashing on fabulous storm days, and, most importantly, when we are there, we both feel such peace and calm I can’t even describe to you in words (which, if you know me, says a lot, because I like to talk and always have words) :)

We came to own it in a very serendipitous way. Do you believe things are meant to be? We talked about it 25 years. For real. 25 years! We have camped almost every summer since we’ve been married in the Lunenburg area. We would sit in our lawn chairs, watch the sun rise and watch the boats go out from the fishing village across the bay.

Without planning it, and with a bunch of weird and serendipitous moments. Including drinking champagne with some locals, watching this video, a BUNCH of other “moments” and realizing life is short, we bought a house. Crazy.

We are not “own 2 house home kinda rich people” what were we thinking?? Seriously. An investment. A dream. A retirement plan.We made a plan to fix it up and rent it out – so we did.

We did what Joanna and Chip Gains would do – we bought the house needing the most love in the best neighbourhood. But we are not Chip and Joanna, no teams, no big budgets, big ideas and dreams. A crazy fixer upper idea.

By the way…our families thought we were nuts. I think they still do. The lady we bought the house from thought we were nuts too as we asked her take this picture because we were so overjoyed at becoming home owners of this wee house in Nova Scotia!


Our closing day June 2012 – ocean view, sun shining, waves crashing!

The lovely lady that owned the house loved her lil house. Her taste were different than mine and to be fair and honest, she was happy there, we have different tastes and lifestyles. The colourful interior was lovely if you love colour. To me, it needed changing to more neutral colours.

Here is what we started with. (excuse the bad photos – we were not even considering a blog post in 2012) :)

The living room before


It was very colourful




Blue Rocks before

We spent one summer painting, cleaning, working hard on the house, all by ourselves (and with the help of some crazy family and friends on occasion), no paint teams or workers hired, honestly we had such a small budget we had to work hard and just do it, we re painted every room, everything needed scraped, primed (at some point latex was used over oil paint in most rooms..ugh)  every SINGLE inch of wall and ceiling needed to be done. We cleaned, we replaced bathroom fixtures, we replaced lights and electrical and added some windows, we did a wee little bit of kayaking and relaxing, but mostly we worked, and worked hard.

Here is my teenager – being just the best as she scrapes gross foam backed carpet from the mud room! That was a nasty job (love you L)


Priming over the Toronto Maple Leaf blue oil painted walls.





Lots of fun!

We had it pretty ship shape by end of summer.



On September 1st 2012, tenants moved in.They were there for 2.5 years. We had not stepped foot in the house in all that time. 

Those tenants just moved out. We decided life IS short and meant to be enjoyed.  We have pretty crazy busy lives. So…we are now working on more cottage renos (because we are crazy) and turning out little cottage into our “Haven by the Sea” where we can go rejuvenate, relax, paint and enjoy, and have some joy. We will also be offering our cottage up for weekly rentals in the summer and we will be hosting some “paint by the sea” workshops. So – you will be seeing a few posts in the next few months on our cottage. Um, sorry. WE have LOTS of painting to do. I see LOTS of Fat Paint, Fusion Paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in my cottages future!

Did I mention – I am on a super super super tight budget, like “you are gonna be so amazed if I can actually do it” tight budget – so I will also be sharing some cost saving tips along the way. I’m outfitting the entire house from top to bottom from scratch and on that REALLY tight budget. It sounds easier than it is. I’ve got 6 weeks until my first tenants arrive. AND of course we still have our shop and workshops to run. It’s going to be exciting and FUN(and yes…crazy) You can also follow along on Instagram, and Facebook.

Have you ever been to Lunenburg? Its such a beautiful colourful and historic town! It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Town.

Lunenburg Nova Scotia photo by Front Porch Mercantile

Here is some fun info about Lunenburg

Here we go…..stay tuned…thanks for following along…I’m going to need your help along the way with suggestions and ideas!! :)

Wish us luck! I’ll be posting regular updates as we go. Front Porch Mercantile will be open regular hours Wednesday to Saturday 11-3, we are only here off days and a few extra days the lovely Lise will be at the shop, so don’t worry, you can still get your paint fix!

Thanks for popping in and reading ALL the way to the bottom of this long post. Leave me a comment if you can, what do you think, are we crazy or brave??



ps..I’m writing this post watching the sun rise over the ocean, listening to the waves crash and birds chirp :)

*****UPDATE we finished and had the cottage fully rented out most of the summer of 2015 and into December – beyond our expectations, you can read a few more posts about it, see some before and afters and how we finished it here and how to rent if you are interested here at Air b n b********** and check Instagram #HavenByTheSea we post a lot of photos :)




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  1. Congratulations on getting your sweet cottage back. Enjoy it. Our cottage is being rented for the very first time this weekend. Maybe we could swap sometime! We are in a lovely part of Ontario called Prince Edward County at Sandbanks Summer Village. Check it out.

    1. Hi Margaret – its exciting and nerve wreaking all at the same time renting isn’t it? I would LOVE to come visit Prince Edward County sometime, I’ve always wanted to. We should talk. :)

  2. Yes!!!! A hundred times yes! You are brave and crazy and fabulous!! I totally get that feeling you get when you are there, I feel exactly the same way when I’m lucky enough to be looking out into the ocean, listening to the waves, sand between my toes, the smell of the salty air….it’s like being home, at peace…..I am soooo happy you have found your happy place❤️. Love to you and John!

  3. Okay…for real, sitting her alone listening to Stan Rogers. So inspired to visit NS because of you guys…need to get my butt in gear and just go!
    Your cottage looks amazing! What a journey! Yay for brave souls like you two!

  4. Wow, just watched the video.. crazy that the couple heading out on their bike at the end of the video are doing so on the road at the end of your driveway….. quite a few shots from close to your lil house too. Brings back good memories..

  5. I think it is a great idea. I wish I could do it. Lunenburg is lovely and relaxng. Life is short and we should all take any opportunity we can to enjoy ourselves. I am sure the place will be lovely when you get finished with it.

  6. I am so excited to follow this along and REALLY looking forward to your cost saving tips! We have our big old century farmhouse to completely redo the inside of in the next few years, on a laughably tight budget. Walking through it now is like walking from decade to decade (you can pick out which room was last reno’d in the 70’s, and which in the 80’s, and 90’s… I’m not even kidding). My problem is never knowing where to start, and mostly, not knowing how to do it without spending a fortune.

  7. You are an inspiration to many! Way to go for just following your heart and soul! That is what life is all about! This makes me want to visit you there! It’s been years since I’ve been to Lunenburg! Maybe I need to schedule a weekend away from the shop!

  8. Girl, this is the stuff dreams are made of! Hopefully you can make enough in rent to add some wonderful things for yourselves to enjoy. What a lovely place. And don’t expect me to believe you wouldn’t be painting something or other there anyway.

    Now I have another place to add to my bucket list.
    The Other Marian

  9. Just found you! Love the cottage and can’t wait to catch up and follow along. I’m in Ontario and have yet to wander down East…..looks like a must-do for sure.

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