A Look Inside Architect Charles Stinson’s Family-Focused Lake Home

Architect Charles Stinson’s forever home is a true family affair—his son led the build and his grandkids’ entertainment was at the forefront of the design

Photos by Paul Crosby

With a sleek shape and windows on all sides, this waterfront house feels more like a floating ship—just the way architect and homeowner Charles Stinson intended.

Charles Stinson’s grandsons are on FaceTime, describing what it’s like to hang out with him and their grandma, Carol Eastlund, in the couple’s new 2,600-square-foot home on Shady Island, one of Lake Minnetonka’s most secluded waterfront locations. “It’s impossible to say what I like best,” enthuses the 9-year-old. “The secret hangout room downstairs, the swimming and boat and docks, and Grandma’s blueberry pancakes! And her waterskiing!”

His 12-year-old brother adds, “The architecture is awesome and homey. The house looks and feels like a ship on the outside, and the interior is just really cool.”

Contemporary accordion-pleated light fixtures and shiny pedestal chairs add a splash of funky retro vibes, which makes the welcoming atmosphere even more lighthearted.

And it’s ever so true. After Charles and his wife decided to sell their cabin and the house they’d lived in for 27 years (designed by Charles himself), they decided to downsize and create their forever home. Charles designed this one as well, distilling his signature architectural style to its essence. Besides creating spaces to live and work, the two also envisioned a family camp focused on the lake, the woods, and other outdoor experiences.

Outdoors, touches of more blue can be found at the family’s outdoor seating area and in the boat cover, but those fade into the background compared to the majestic trees and open shoreline.

“My mom and dad created a place where everyone wants to be,” says Jason Stinson, father of three boys and founder of Stinson Builders, who constructed the home. “It’s in my dad’s nature to make it fun, from the road winding across the island to the house, with its openness to the lake and secret passageways, to the hammocks in the trees.”

Listen to the crunch-crunch of the gravel underfoot, enter the home, and let the floor-to-ceiling windows guide your view out to the lake. “You feel like you’re on a boat floating on the water,” says Charles. “You can only see the deck and the lake. By keeping the architecture simple, it can get out of the way so nature does the work.”

Charles’s trademark design elements, including horizontal planes separated by clerestory windows, bring in ample light through triple-pane Loewen windows and doors. By including built-in buffets and lower cabinets, views remain prominent, and a wall of windows in the kitchen is uninterrupted by dishware because of the room’s drawer system. Even the Gaggenau stove features a retractable ventilation panel with a window behind it.

The interior of the home is nothing but cheery with complementary orange and blue furniture and accessories, massive windows that create an almost skylight effect, and a glass fireplace.

Nature was further brought inside through wood downed by the emerald ash borer—you can find it on walls, doors, floors, and ceilings. The wraparound deck was constructed from thermally modified ash. Local artisan Darril Otto stained the interior and exterior siding and great room ceiling to highlight patterns in the wood grain and create a modern whitewashed look.

When the family visits, they all tend to hang out in the sunroom with its two bright blue Herman Miller couches that convert into daybeds. There, they can convene before tackling the day’s adventure: swimming or boating (made convenient with an outdoor shower); badminton, ping pong, or croquet; walks to look for wildlife. The couple’s RV also awaits in a nearby grassy patch. “For my son’s birthday, I borrowed a sauna trailer and we put it on the camping area next to the house,” recalls Jason, “and we all camped, sauna-ed, and jumped in the lake. I have such respect for my dad’s architecture, and for my parents in that they really believe in what they do.”

Home Details

  • Architect: Charles R. Stinson Architecture + Design
  • Builder: Stinson Builders
  • Home Location: Minnetonka
  • Bedrooms: 2
  • Bathrooms: 3
  • Style: Modern island beach house

Tour this project on Midwest Home‘s Virtual Tour here. 

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