Preserving the Soul of a Lakeside Retreat

The semi-outdoor patio received new clerestory windows and large pocket doors with Phantom screens.

On a wooded peninsula lying serenely in a suburban lake, generations of a family have made memories swimming, sailing, picnicking, and entertaining friends. In the original summer home, built by the grandparents, cousins spent their nights on a sleeping porch, recalling the day’s adventures before falling into slumber beneath the stars and breezes off the lake.

In 1970, one set of parents tore down the summer house and built a house faced in white brick. Several years ago, their son and his wife decided to build a new year-round home on the site. But they didn’t want to start from scratch; they wanted a new home built within the bones of the existing house.

Thus began years of design exploration with architect Andrea Swan. “They took their time,” says Swan, principal of Swan Architecture. “They weren’t in any rush. They wanted to preserve and respect the existing home’s footprint.” Eventually, Swan found the perfect solution. Working with Hagstrom Builder,  they took the house down to the studs, keeping the exterior walls and floor joists. They also kept the first level, but lowered the dining room’s 11-foot ceilings to make way for an enlarged and reconfigured second level with master suite, elevator, laundry room—and sleeping porch.

“The homeowner didn’t want to completely level his parents’ former home,” says Pete Hagstrom. “He wanted a new home within the same walls. While it was challenging for us to save and work with the 2-by-10 joists, especially when inserting new mechanical systems, we did it. We also worked around all of the old oak trees on the site. It was important, in a place a family has enjoyed for 100 years, to preserve its storied history.”

An exterior of a home features shingle-style and clapboard siding, gable roofs, and porches giving the house a lake-cottage aesthetic.

Shingle-style and clapboard siding, gable roofs, and porches give the house a lake-cottage aesthetic.

All new roofing, windows, doors, and insulation were added. Shingle-style and clapboard clear cedar siding, dark-stained cedar shutters, a bluestone and limestone foundation, and gable roofs and porches supported by reclaimed Douglas fir timbers helped create a lake-cottage-style aesthetic. Outside, his grandfather’s flatwork stone terrace was preserved and bluestone patios were added.

A great room featuring a stainless steel and mahogany fireplace complemented by a glass table surrounded by chairs and artwork above and flanking the sides.

The fireplace stayed in the same location, but got a facelift with stainless steel, stone, and mahogany.

Inside, the great room still faces the lake, but a 12-foot-wide exterior pocket door now leads from the great room to a screen porch. The fireplace and chimney are in the same place, but the new fireplace is stainless steel, natural stone, and mahogany. On either side, windows were inserted to bring in daylight, and bookcases were replaced with display cubes of eucalyptus, quartered walnut, and tamo wood. Vertical clear-cedar paneling on the lower level was removed and reused in the sleeping porch and the interior of the main-level screen porch.

A remodeled guest bath featuring whimsical twin bird faucets, a mirror flanked by wall sconces and a gray metallic vine wallcovering.

In the remodeled guest bath, whimsical twin bird faucets, a mirror, and wall sconces from the former house were reinstalled. The gray metallic vine wallcovering adds a contemporary touch.

In the foyer, the pickets of the unique brass and steel railing and the wall sconces were kept. In the remodeled main-level guest bath, whimsical twin bird faucets, a mirror, and wall sconces from the old house were reinstalled. Likewise, furniture from the previous home was accommodated throughout.

The second level of a home shows a unique brass and steel railing, table and chairs, and the family dog.

Shingle-style and clapboard siding, gable roofs, and porches give the house a lake-cottage aesthetic.

“The client wanted to balance the classic exterior with a more contemporary interior, while blending in lots of existing furnishings,” says interior designer Greg Walsh, owner of Walsh Design Group, ID-Inside Design, and Martin Patrick 3. “Designing the interiors was like a dance of reinvention, about balancing the family heritage aspect of the project and collectibles acquired over the years with new items brought in to update the house.”

A renewed kitchen featuring dark cabinetry with horizontal wood grain panels and modern hardware. A two-part island accommodates prepping, seating and eating.

The renewed kitchen features cabinetry with  horizontal wood grain panels and modern hardware. A two-part island accommodates prepping, seating, and eating.

The biggest change occurred in the kitchen. The challenge: how to open up the kitchen to the living and dining areas yet retain the same—if not create more—storage and counter space. The answer: a “cube.” Together, Swan and Walsh came up with a storage and serving solution that is functional and beautiful. The cube—which faces into the family room on the wet bar side and into the dining and kitchen areas with counters for a breakfast bar—is made of rift-cut white oak cabinetry bookended by cabinetry columns of cinnabar-stained, horizontal rift-cut white oak. The cube’s shelves, drawers, wine storage, counters, baking station, and coffee station ensure everything needed for cooking, daily life, or entertaining has a place.

An element dubbed the "cube" serves multiple purposes: It's a functional work of art, a piece of furniture with plentiful storage, and a butler's pantry.

Architect Andrea Swan and interior designer Greg Walsh designed the “cube” to serve multiple purposes: It’s a functional work of art, a piece of furniture with plentiful storage, and a butler’s pantry.

Inside the cube is a butler’s pantry with pass-through openings and plentiful storage made of the same charcoal gray rift-cut oak cabinetry that lines the kitchen. The cube pantry and the mudroom/pantry in back of the kitchen are hidden from view, yet are conveniently accessible to caterers and bartenders.

To modernize the kitchen cabinetry, Walsh says, the team chose a Shaker-style door with a horizontal wood grain in the panels and modern hardware. The two-part island consists of  a lacquer gray working and serving portion that wraps around the higher walnut bar with seating.

“They came to me not knowing exactly what they wanted or needed, but were open-minded and unhurried,” Swan says. “The process was about exploring within the existing confines of the walls and using the former home as a template.” For Walsh, the challenge and the thrill of the project was taking the owners’ love of the site, the house, and their family history, along with the items they wanted to bring with them and balancing it all out. “It was important that familiar parts of their past were retained in the house,” he says. “It was about bringing all of that history together.”

Digital Extra: Aerial View

An aerial view of a lakeside home shows a home surrounded by trees and water.

By Camille Lefevre. Photos by Corey Gaffer

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