Blog Cabin 2014: Building for a Lakeside Location in Florida

From repositioning the house to weatherproofing the exterior, learn how DIY Network's design team remodeled Blog Cabin 2014 for lakeside living.

1403021_HGTVRemodels_BlogCabin2014_0087 Tony Flora/ AP Images 2014, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Let's call it a side benefit. Because he was moving Blog Cabin 2014 from another location, project designer Dylan Eastman could place the building anywhere he wanted on its new lakefront site outside of Winter Haven, Florida.

"Normally you can't do this with a renovation project," he says. "You have to live with the existing location of the house." But for this project, he could tell the truck driver to park the home almost anywhere on the property. Here's how he turned that to the future homeowners' maximum advantage.

Between the Trees

The five-acre lakeside property is thick with beautiful live oak trees, many of them with wide, splayed limbs. "They're perfect climbing trees," says Dylan. They also provide privacy screening from the street and create a mature landscape that will make the house feel like it's always been in this spot.

First and foremost, Dylan planned the location—and the route the movers would take to get it on the property—to preserve the trees. In the end, only a single specimen was felled, and it was diseased anyway.


Browse Time-Lapse Photography

Long Side to the Water

The home had been a classic urban bungalow-style house—very long and narrow, with one end facing the street and the other facing the back yard. But Dylan decided to rotate it 90 degrees, so its length would run parallel to the shoreline out back, meaning many more of the house's windows would face the lake.

This required creating new front and rear entrances on the long sides of the building, but since the entire home was being reconfigured and rehabilitated anyway, that presented no obstacle. And with the site 600 feet away from the road, behind those live oak trees, he wasn't worried about creating too much exposure toward the front of the property.

Oriented for the Sun

Though the damaged roof had been removed to make the building low enough to travel under electrical lines along the route— project contractor Dennis Kelly, of Waller Construction, rebuilt it to match the original pitch, shape, and deep bracketed overhangs of the house's exterior walls. These help keep the home cooler in the summer, by shading the windows when the sun is high in the sky, and allow the sunshine in during the winter, when the sun sits lower on the horizon. By turning the house, Dylan reduced the summer cooling load even more because now only a short end faces southwest, which is the hottest, sunniest exposure.

Expanded Laterally

The two additions Kelly built—one on the first floor, to accommodate the kitchen, two bedrooms, and their shared bathroom and one upstairs to expand the widow's walk into a sitting room and master suite—both expanded the house laterally, so the new spaces also front on the lake. The roughly 27-foot wide building grew from 54 to 80 feet long.

Views Throughout

By removing interior walls—which he did by adding engineered structural framing to support the long ceiling spans—Dylan created an open floorplan. This accommodates modern informal lifestyles, and it also means the beautiful lake views will carry through not just the rooms along the new back wall, but to just about every vantage point in the house.

Upgraded Exterior

1403021_HGTVRemodels_BlogCabin2014_0026 Enlarge Photo Tony Flora/ AP Images 2014, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Compared to so many other Blog Cabin projects through the years, this central Florida location is subject to far easier weather conditions. Still, the building got some major weatherproofing. The structural components are strapped and bolted together to protect against high winds.

The exterior siding is factory-painted fiber-cement lapboard, which is rot and pest-proof—and comes with a 15-year warranty on the paint. The trim, too, is made from prefinished fiber cement, and fastened to the house using hidden clips, so there's no nailing or touchup painting required. The vinyl-clad windows have argon gas insulation between the two panes, and a low-emissivity coating on the outside of the interior pane, which reflects heat outward—helping keeping the air conditioned space inside as efficient as it is comfortable.

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