What lakeshore retreat design focus is

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For this totally renovated multilevel lakeside retreat, the design focus was a clean approach to midcentury modern living with a slight nod to the home’s 1970s roots. As the 2021 New American Remodel, “The inspiration was taken from the site, lake and reflections and is interpreted through the use of organic shapes, dramatic lighting and texturally contrasting materials. The interior environment is conducive for entertaining while being a warm comfortable family home,” says Rob Turner, CRT Studio.

As the builder, Rob Smith, E2 Homes, explains, “The house started with kind of a tree house feel due to all the levels. But the owners loved the character, which is hard to define sometimes in newer homes, as well as the stunning views. We embraced the levels, but it was a challenge as there were some obstacles including low ceilings. We had to figure out how to make a home built in the’70s feel more open and modern.”

The formal living room has dramatic charcoal walls that highlight the art and furnishings. Russell Glotfelty, Axiom Fine Art, provided and curated all the artwork throughout the home. A wine room produces vertical visual interest and connects the two main living areas. In the dramatic stairway clever niches — with sculptures by Byron Walker — create a gallery effect at each level.

The custom kitchen is in a dark rich monochromatic palette. The inclination is horizontal and linear to reflect the proportions of the space. The palette was selected to relate to the beautiful lake view and to nest visually into its environment. The linear LED lighting helps define the horizontal nature of the space. Sandra Agurto, Cabinetry Creations, designed the custom cabinets. The bold orange sectional adds some playfulness, and Rob also incorporated the bright hue in accessories. Some of the glass pieces are from his own midcentury modern collection. Understated furniture in neutral tones keeps the lower living area feeling open and bright.

It was a complete interior and exterior renovation of the 6,459 square-foot home with six bedrooms, six and a half baths, and luxurious outdoor living space with a summer kitchen, cabana and boat dock. The work actually began outside so the owners could enjoy their new lake life while waiting for the house to be completed. 

The interior would require some careful thought and creative engineering. On the first level, since there was a structure above, the team lowered the floor. “We jackhammered the slab and went down to create that extra vertical space. That level actually only had seven-foot ceilings originally. On the second level we integrated structural beams to eliminate some walls to make the rooms feel more spacious even though the ceilings were not higher. The top floor required the most work as it was not structurally sound. That enabled them to increase the ceiling heights,” Rob Smith says.

Other solutions involved keeping the spaces as visually open as possible. “Rob [Turner] selected specific light fixtures so they wouldn’t be hanging down. In the kitchen we used LED strips and there were only very select pendant lights used throughout. He was really creative with the finishes to minimize the lack of height,” he adds.

Recessed ceiling details and indirect lighting define the rooms and provide a soothing comfortable environment while the finishes and wall treatments define the flow of space and provide visual order. “We wanted it to be warm with a lake house feel to it, but at the same time to be a little edgy and contemporary. The owners were very much part of the process, but I pretty much had carte blanche with the design. They had just a few pieces of furniture they kept. And we communicated a lot with meetings and reviews, but they were very trusting,” Rob Turner says.

Standout features include the staircase — the major vertical connection of the house where all the levels come together and illustrate the extensive layering of materials, finishes and accents — the wine room that connects the upper and lower living areas, and the kitchen in warm, dark tones with plenty of entertaining space. 

With such extensive renovations it would have been easy to consider tearing the house down as is a common practice these days. But everyone involved appreciated the original intent of the house. “I saw the potential — it had the right bones,” Rob Smith concludes.

The primary bath is designed and finished to be spa-like. Elegant porcelain tile was selected to replicate the finest marbles while the organic wood details add diversity and visual contrast to the space. Rich tones and striking textures were also used in another bathroom.

The main focus in the primary bedroom is the lake with wide doors letting the outside in and comfortable chairs so the owners can enjoy their view. Upper windows provide light without taking up precious wall space. A recessed ceiling channel and a small art gallery make the entry to the room an interesting feature.

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