Ever been on a break somewhere so idyllic that you wish you could just keep coming back? Egon Walesch had that in the lakeside log cabin on the shores of Lough Ree, Co. West Meath, Ireland, that he used to visit as a child.
And when he inherited it, he used all his skills as an interior designer to turn it into a stunning sanctuary for himself and his partner, Richard Goodwin. We learned how he did it (while secretly wishing for an invite).
If you like cabin style, we have lots of cabin decor ideas (opens in new tab) to inspire you
Even as a young boy, Egon knew that the cabin's rustic charm was bordering on the run down. And it was an issue he was determined to address as soon as he got the keys. 'As a child, I loved this cabin, but remember thinking it was a bit dark and cramped, and the windows weren’t big enough to enjoy the magical views,’ he says. ‘We wanted the place to feel cosy, warm and inviting – a real home and a place you would yearn to return to.’
It took a few years for them to find a builder who would go along with their plans to restore the cabin, and not just want to knock it down and build 'a proper house'. A friend finally recommended a local builder sympathetic to their ideas.
Egon spent a year travelling between London and Ireland, visiting the project every month to check progress, make critical decisions when necessary and even lend a hand when needed.
Because the cabin was split into separate rooms and a small hallway, Egon and Richard felt going open-plan and taking advantage of the roof height would make the space feel bigger.
'The internal walls were knocked down to create a large kitchen/dining/living space, and then the ceilings were removed to expose the rafters and create a sense of height and light.’ says Egon. Original floorboards were sanded and repaired where needed, and the whole cabin was rewired and replumbed. For a smart finish, the walls were clad in tongue and groove panelling, and a new kitchen fitted to make a modern centre to the house.
Extending one side of the house made it possible to create two new en suite bathrooms. ‘The original bathrooms had been between the two bedrooms, and were impossibly narrow,’ says Egon. ‘By adding the new extension we transformed the bedrooms, which have views into the new bathrooms. I’m a great believer in making interesting viewpoints through rooms rather than always closing them off with doors.'
The cabin is cosy at any time of the year thanks to insulation in the roof, walls and floors and triple-glazed windows and full-length sliding doors.
‘The glazing is on the side of the house facing the lake, so we can enjoy the views from the master bedroom and main living space,’ says Egon. The couple fitted an energy-efficient heating system and wood-burning stove along along with a remote access system. ‘We can turn on the heat and lights before we arrive from London, so we never have to turn up to a cold, dark house,' says Egon.
When it came to the décor and furnishings, Egon chose a fairly neutral palette, and then mixed in lots of natural tones, textures and a few bright pops of colour. ‘I’m a big fan of mid-century architecture and design. Seeing as the cabin was built in the mid-1960s it made sense to furnish it with pieces from that period. I love the mix of old and new. It was great to match pieces from auctions and antique shop with contemporary art and design.’
The transformed cabin is somewhere they now look forward to spending time in. ‘There is something very rewarding about making something beautiful with a small sustainable footprint,’ says Egon. ‘It’s a home that offers us everything we need. It’s so relaxing, as soon as you arrive here, you can feel the stresses of modern life fade away.'
Sounds like something we all need. Now, when can we come?