Upta Camp, Upgraded
A simple 1950s hunting cabin in the Rangeley Lakes region gets a respectful remodel.
When Katy and Jerry* bought the property on the shores of Mooselookmeguntic Lake, it was a real, rustic Maine camp. But the Massachusetts couple liked the signs of its history and wear. They were drawn to the rough-hewn logs, the weather-darkened wood, and the rusty metal roof. They liked how it perched on a rock overlooking the water and they loved the six acres of wild woodland that surrounded the cabin. There was a dock that went out far enough for swimmers to take a running jump off the end into the cool blue depths. Across the water, they could see the state forest with its tall pines, oaks, and birches growing thick along the shore. And on a clear day, in the distance, they could see Mount Washington swelling over the horizon.
But the camp, though authentic and hand-built and full of history, was also a bit rough around the edges. “The original owner built it in the 1950s to be a hunting and fishing camp,” explains Jill Crosby of Rangeley Building and Remodeling. “There was no bathroom, no electricity, and it had really low windows. It was purely a place to stay for him.” Although his family eventually put in plumbing and electrical, the wiring was “not pretty,” according to Crosby. (The wires had been stapled to the outside of the building rather than integrated into the structure of the walls.) “It was also sagging in a few places, as old buildings do,” she adds.
“It went through our minds early on that the camp needed a lot of work,” says Jerry. “But you could tell that it had been built with a lot of care and effort.” From the former owner’s family, they learned that he used timber from the property to build his cabin, and that he lived on site (in the small boathouse) while he was making it. “That made it pretty special,” Katy says. When they approached Crosby and her partner, Mark Gordon, about renovating the camp, the design-build team told the new buyers that many people would have simply torn the camp down and started anew. “They said if we had asked for that, they probably would have turned the job down,” remembers Jerry. “They wanted to take an old, almost historic camp, and bring it back to life. And that was our dream, too.”
During the winter of 2017, the team from Rangeley Building got to work renovating the nearly 70-year old structure and constructing an addition with a breezeway. The addition houses several guest rooms, the owners’ suite, Jack-and-Jill style bathrooms, and a large sleeping loft with ladder access. The original building was turned into a communal space. Crosby rejiggered the floor plan so that the camp could fit a great room and a spacious kitchen. It was also important to Katy and Jerry that they figure out a way to let in more natural light, so Rangeley Building took down all the exterior logs, created large shingled dormers, added new Andersen windows, and replaced the 10-inch vertical logs as they were. “A lot of cabins can feel really dark inside,” says Katy. “So any place they could put in a window, they did.”
It wasn’t easy putting all the logs back in place, and on more than one occasion, they had to source similarly sized logs from the surrounding woods. “That was the biggest challenge,” says Gordon. “We wanted to keep the look the same as it was, so we did a lot of log work.
The camp had a rusty metal roof, which we left, and so we had to match the color of the new roof.” To fake a rusty look, they added a metal roof to the addition and breezeway, covered it with a silver coating, and then painted it with Rust-Oleum to create an oxidized appearance.
Along with wanting more natural light to increase the visual warmth, Katy and Jerry also wanted to be able to sit in front of a roaring fire and listen to it crackle and pop. They planned to use the house year-round, which meant winterizing the walls with foam insulation and bringing in propane heaters. Those were easy fixes; the fireplace was a bit trickier to manage, since the camp didn’t have a solid foundation. At first, Gordon and Crosby proposed a fireplace insert, but once it was installed, Katy and Jerry found themselves a bit disappointed with the size. “At that point, we realized that a cabin in Maine just needs a big fireplace,” Jerry says. “So we told Mark and Jill to do whatever they needed to make it happen.” Since the camp was already going to receive new flooring, it wasn’t too hard to install foundation just under the cultured stone fireplace. For the mantle, Crosby took a log from the property and had one of their carpenters cut it down to size. “We use the fireplace all the time to make s’mores,” Katy says. “It’s just beautiful.”
When it came to decorating the renovated camp and its newly built addition, Katy and Jerry worked with Crosby to figure out a color palette that felt welcoming, classic, and rustic. They painted the custom-built kitchen cabinets (the work of Vining’s Custom Cabinets in Weld) a barn red color and applied coats of sage green to the bathroom walls. They used pine boards on the floors and ceilings throughout the structure, which helps unify the old portions with the new. “Most old camps are like that,” says Crosby. “They’re consistent and simple. We also used pine shiplap boards laid horizontally on the walls, which we like because it’s affordable and has so much character from the knots.” Another feature that was inspired by classic Maine camps is the countertops. Sourced from Freshwater Stone, the dark soapstone has an inviting softness to it, a slightly velvety finish. “It wears so nicely,” Crosby explained. “This place wouldn’t have accepted any kind of glitzy countertop. It would have looked horrible and out of place.” The lighting is a combination of classic shapes (outside there are barn lights, sourced from Barn Light Electric, and inside they have schoolhouse pendants, purchased from Pottery Barn) and slightly more woodsy pieces, like the dining room chandelier. “The pine cone mica fixture is a beautiful piece that the homeowner had already,” says Crosby. “It’s so woodsy and charming.” Working with Katy was “so enjoyable,” Crosby explains, because she “really has the best taste. She had a vision and style, which made it really easy to work together.”
All the finishing touches, including furniture and textiles, were determined by Katy and Jerry, who decided to go with a four-seasons theme for the bedrooms. Their bedroom is winter themed and features watercolors by local artist Marcia Baker. “We got most of our furniture from our very favorite furniture store in the whole wide world, which is right in town,” says Katy. Almost every time they come up to camp, they like to stop in at Welcome Home Furniture in Rangeley to see what new items might have come in. Their queen-sized hickory twig bed comes from the shop, as does the live-edge maple table that sits in front of the fireplace. “We also have lots and lots of blankets,” Katy adds. These, she says, are essential. “This is where we come to catch up and come together with each other and our kids,” she says. “It’s a place for snuggling up with a loved one or for having cozy hangouts in the kitchen.” In this way, the authentic Maine camp spirit lives on. And hopefully, it will continue on to the next generation. “We’re looking forward to when our kids have kids,” Jerry says. “We’ll have all the cousins up and have plenty of beds for them.”
*The owners’ names in this article have been changed to protect their privacy.