The Renovation of Kerby Lodge

Would you paint Kerby Lodge if it were yours—and your parents weren’t around to tell you what to do? Would you walk away from the dark wood paneling, and the solid wood beams that mark the many rustic northern lodges in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin? Or how about the dark, authentic log buildings dotting the woods of the Adirondacks—one of our favorite locations to find historic inns and restaurants.

The truth is, I enjoy the look, feel and smell of old wood and musty books found in rustic lodges. These sensations strike a nostalgic chord in me, as I think of the men and women who harvested first generation lumber to craft homes and barns that reminded them of the countries they left behind. I seek out the dark hidden nooks in the old inns—the chairs tucked away for private thoughts and quiet reading. These books and chairs and wood surfaces need not become musty, as the fictional Kerby Lodge had become.

But on the other hand, I also delight in the fresh white paint and bright furniture found in other Lake Michigan inns. For instance, there’s an inn on Mackinac Island Steve and I like to stay in, and they spend their winter touching up all the paint so it’s pristine for spring and summer. Both sensibilities have their place in the coastal towns of the Midwest. One may be nostalgic, while the other is more refreshing, and restful.

Would I paint Kerby Lodge if it were mine? Probably. And like the main character in Shoulder Season, I’d leave a few authentic pieces to do the heavy nostalgia lifting—like the Scottish hutch, and dining set. At least for a while, until I painted them orange, or teal. With flecks of black and white paint. And new hardware.

1 Comment

  1. Kristi Kay

    I probably would, although I completely understand Kay’s internal struggle about it. But since a Lodge is for the guests more than for the owner, updating it seems smart.

    I’d probably keep a dark little musty room for myself somewhere though, where I could smell those old books without anyone judging me or them.


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