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Traditional lakefront house

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Traditional architecture can evoke a sense of nostalgia – a feeling that time stands still while the rest of the world speeds on relentlessly.

It is this enduring aspect of such architecture that ensures its continued appeal. But design evolves and the traditional elements are often adapted and refined to reflect a contemporary sensibility, which was precisely the case with this lakeside house in Minnesota.

Designed by architect Kurt Baum for owners Steven Streeter and Robin Wettengel, and built by Streeter Homes, the house has elements in common with Nantucket beach houses, but does not mimic the architectural tradition of any particular style.

"The house responds to the location in its own unique way, while meeting a number of conditions imposed by the site," says Baum. "And while modern functionality defines every aspect of the design, traditional materials and forms were essential for the exterior."

To this end, the house features a steeply pitched gable roofline, cedar shingles, painted shiplap siding and small-pane windows. However, builder Steven Streeter says the detail reflects a contemporary interpretation.

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"The siding, for example, has a much larger, 8in reveal on each piece of wood, and there is no obvious mortar or joints in the stonework that appears around the house," he says. "And the cedar shingles are machine sawn to provide a smoother, more refined finish. The landscape also places the house in a modern setting."

Extra-solid, weathered columns and beams frame the entry to the house, providing a sense of substance and permanence. With a gabled roof tucked beneath a larger gable there is also a very welcoming, human scale to the entry.

Tall, narrow windows either side of the front door provide glimpses right through the house to the lake beyond – a view that unfolds further inside the entry.

To maximize the picturesque setting, there is one large, open-plan living area that opens onto a long covered veranda. Classical elements on the interior include a painted beamed ceiling and wide oak plank flooring. But here again, there is a contemporary treatment, with motorized blinds concealed within pockets in the beams along the tops of the windows.

Different areas within the large space are defined by framed openings or casings that are framed in walnut that has been specially dyed in a dark espresso shade.

"The dark walnut framing provides a little bit of separation, between the entry and the living room, and between the dining area and the kitchen," says Baum.

The dark wood also appears on the stairs, which have a contemporary, architectural look. Streeter says the stairs were designed to resemble large blocks of wood stacked one on top of the other.

The owners and architect worked closely with interior designer Alecia Stevens to design a very clean-lined interior with an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary furnishings that include leather, jute and fabrics in silk mohair, linen and cashmere, along with Jean Michel Frank furnishings from Ecart in Paris.

"We opted for a neutral palette, as we didn't want the house to overpower the setting," says Baum. "Similarly, the architecture is not too detailed for the same reason."

Interior walls have a troweled, multi-layered Venetian plaster finish that adds a subtle texture and visual depth. The color of the walls changes depending on the light at different times of the day. The white also provides an ideal backdrop for the owners' artworks.

"We didn't want a cottage, dollhouse-style interior," says Streeter. "We wanted a much more metropolitan look, but with traditional elements. There needed to be a balance. In the kitchen, for example, we have chosen classic materials, such as oak and Carrara marble, but given them a modern treatment."

The marble features on the countertops and in the backsplash, where the tiles have been cut to resemble bricks. The entire cooking center is framed by a band of Venetian plaster.

Contrast is also provided by the mix of dark dyed walnut cabinetry on the island, and the lighter oak perimeter cabinets. All the cabinetry has a sleek, contemporary design.

In addition to the main kitchen storage, which includes symmetrical pull-out pantries, there is a separate butler's pantry, where the family prepare most of their meals.

Other key features of the house include a modern, climate-controlled wine cellar, positioned in a hallway where it can be seen. The owners can also enjoy an alfresco living area, complete with outdoor fireplace.

Credit List

Architect Kurt Baum, KBA Architects (Minneapolis, MN)
Builder Steven Streeter, Streeter & Associates (Deephaven, MN)
Landscape architect Travis Van Liere
Interior designer Alecia Stevens
Lighting designer Michael Cohen
Home theater and audiovisual systems John Deering Theater Design
Siding Cedar shiplap
Roofing Cedar shingles by Eclipse Construction
Structural steel Designer Iron
Specialty millwork Aaron Carlson
Custom cabinets Fritz Cabinetry & Furniture
Island countertop and backsplash Carrara marble
Masonry fireplace Nelson Masonry & Concrete
Doors and windows Synergy Products
Door and window hardware Twin City Hardware
Walls Venetian plaster by Otto Painting Design
Hardwood floor Plank walnut from Belrose & Company
Stone countertops and fireplace hearth Summit Stone Interiors
Lighting Juno recessed; Holly Hunt lamps
Stairs Bauer Custom Welding
Cooktop and ventilation Miele from Warners Stellian

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