Nature intervenes

Colours and textures from surrounding woodlands inspired the interior of this lakeside retreat

An exterior view of the patio area. backyard, cottage, deck, home, house, outdoor structure, patio, real estate, yard, black, gray
An exterior view of the patio area.

A house situated just minutes from a large lake and surrounded by dense woodland should ideally be designed to sit comfortably and sympathetically within its environment. To continue the flow through to the interior, though, can present a challenge if the client's brief demands a radically different decor.

Fortunately, in the case of this lakeside second home, the owners asked designers Handman Associates to produce a contemporary, yet rustic look and feel.

Designers Shelly Handman and Veronica Riley Martens felt the best way to achieve that brief was to bring the outside in, fulfilling both the visual and tactile senses.

"The clients had a very distinct idea of a rustic contemporary look that was nothing like their traditional, elegant city apartment that we had recently designed, so initially it took us by surprise," says Riley Martens. "Once on site, we realised the inspiration was right outside the windows, and the colours and textures of the woods shaped our design ideas throughout the project."

They say the initial brief was to update a few aspects of the lake house interior. The job rapidly turned into a complete overhaul of the home, with just a few pieces of original furniture remaining.

Tones of green and brown, along with neutral shades, dominate the interior from the rough-hewn armchair fabrics to the woven floor mats. A dark bronze woven sofa suite makes for a casual, almost-outdoor feeling in the screened-in sun porch. Splashes of vivid green in the cushions and plants throughout the house reflect the lush colours of summer leaves.

A view of the sunroom. ceiling, dining room, home, house, interior design, living room, gray
A view of the sunroom.

Dominated by a double-height stone fireplace surround, the living area inspires images of intimate winter evenings spent reading by the fire. A clever design feature is the original artwork that slides along a rail to hide the flat screen television when not in use.

A lot of thought was put into the choice of dining table, say the designers.

"Being a significantly sized piece of wooden furniture, we wanted to capture the elements of nature in a raw sense."

An antique furniture store specialising in using reclaimed wood designed and made the table from unused railway planks, which were in pristine condition.

"The overall effect is crude, with a chalky finish, but very effective because of its raw simplicity," says Handman.

Above the table hangs a metal frame containing candle shells, each with a 25-watt bulb inserted. Two halogen downlights serve to highlight the table setting.

S vie wof the living and dining areas, countertop, dining room, interior design, kitchen, living room, room, black, brown
S vie wof the living and dining areas, wooden flooring, brown walls, lights, wooden dining suite and tables, drapes, brwon sofas, rock fireplace, lamps.

The homeowners were very certain about how they liked to live, says Handman. They enjoy entertaining and didn't want their bedroom, which could be seen from the front door entrance, to be hidden away behind closed doors when guests arrived.

One solution was to create small living areas within the large bedroom. Through the open door, visitors can spot a pair of comfortable armchairs on either side of an ottoman, each with a reading lamp alongside. Glass sliding doors open onto a sunroom. The room is also accessible from the living area. The owner has her study nook tucked almost out of sight on the far side of the room, and an entire wall of book shelving acts as a library.

Choosing a designer needn't be based on geographical location, says Handman.

"Although we only went to the site twice during the whole process, every nook and cranny of the home received our attention through the use of plans, photographs and our clients' excellent ability to relay information like drawings and measurements via email."

Credit list

Interior designer
Shelly Handman and Veronica Riley Martens, Handman Associates (Chicago, Illinois)
Porch sofas
Sienna sofas
Artwork over TV
Afternoon Respite by Lena Bartula for Crossroads Contemporary Gallery
DeVries & Dornbos
Dining chairs
Othello chairs
Dining room rug
Tibetan wool area rug
Bed linen
Bedside Manners
Twig headboard
Custom designed by Handman Associates
Darpel & Associates Builders Inc
Living room chairs
Mayfield club chairs
Table lamps on living room console
Primitive Grand
Dining table
Custom-weathered pine table
Altar hanging light
Master bedroom bench
Siri bench
Floor lamps
Pharmacy lamps

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