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Quirky features reflect playfulness in an Oconomowoc Lake home


April 2017

 The great room flows into the dining area and kitchen, the hub of activity. “The entertaining aspect was huge for us, so that’s why everything is so open,” the homeowners say. “We didn’t want people to feel like they were leaving the party if they left the kitchen.”

While some folks escape to Lake Country to slow down and unwind from the pace of city living, others fall in love with the easygoing lifestyle and make a permanent home here, where they entertain family and friends. The husband and wife who recently built a Midwestern shingle-style lake house on Oconomowoc Lake fall into the latter category.

“We wanted a traditional lake home look but not rustic or (like a) log cabin,” says the wife, noting the subtle interpretation in their kitchen ceiling, which mimics the hull of a boat.

To breathe life into their vision, they hired a team of professionals: Wade Weissmann of Wade Weissmann Architecture Inc. for the floor plans and design drawings, Moore Designs Inc. in Germantown for construction, and Peabody’s Interiors in Brown Deer for the interior architectural elements and finishes.

 A secret door within the circular bookshelves leads from the study to the master suite.

The other half of the great room features a wood-burning fireplace and a wood box with custom copper work that was hand-soldered and chemically stained.

Since the couple viewed the house as their forever home, they made choices to please themselves without too much thought about resale value. That freedom translated into playful features and highly personal touches, including genuine portholes in the kitchen doors leading to the butler’s pantry, a deluxe blue La Cornue range with both gas and electric ovens, an oversized fireplace and custom copper fire box in the great room, and even a bar whose Caesarstone quartz agate top lights up with LEDs in the master suite.

“We have quirky details, like the circular study (with) a secret door,” the homeowners say. “We wanted truly circular bookshelves and a curved desk.” The room itself allows for that as it sits in a turret, a distinctive feature of the exterior they were excited to make part of the design.

 In some of the smaller rooms, the homeowners introduced wallpaper, like the metallic, geometric-patterned style in the lower-level powder room.

The study offers privacy even as it is within earshot of the great room, and the desk overlooks the lake and beachy area, enabling the homeowners to keep an eye on their two boys. And when the homeowners wish to retreat to the master suite, they can push a button, and the electronically operated secret door opens. As much as that delights them, it also affords practical access to that wing without disturbing the study’s aesthetic character.

The expansive kitchen is a favorite space, and when guests visit, it becomes a hub of activity. The homeowners love to cook, and everyone can pitch in with the kitchen’s generous workspace in its two large islands and long countertop beneath a wall of windows.

“Lake living is all about preparing meals to take on a boat or in the boat house, and as the evening rolls around, you sort of wander up to the house and start thinking about making food,” Weissmann says. “It really ends up being all about the kitchen and gathering and having great meals.”

 Two fireplaces share a flue: One heats the screened porch, and the other a cozy seating area in the open air. Nearby the infinity pool glistens in the abundant sunlight on the property’s south side.

Offering a stunning view of Oconomowoc Lake, the porch features screens that can go down at night to keep bugs out as well a heated floor to keep the chill at bay.

In fact, many meals are shared outdoors, and the homeowners enjoy an impressive patio that includes a screened porch with a double-sided fireplace, several seating areas and an outdoor kitchen with a large grill. “In the summer, we do a lot of entertaining out here, and I can put 20 burgers on the grill at once,” the husband says.

Parallel to the lake lies an infinity pool, whose location was blessed by a turn of events that enabled the homeowners to purchase an adjoining property before the house’s construction. “We were able to move the house over and locate the pool to the south of the house,” Weissmann says of modifying the plans. “We thought it was a really nice location because it would get sun all day. Then to be on that hill with the infinity edge pool next to the lake … when you’re in it, it looks like the pool just continues and runs off into the water.”

The homeowners, who are overseeing construction in the house’s lower level now, are happy to stay put, and one couldn’t blame their guests for wanting to linger too.

Resource center: How to re-create the look

» The red couch and the table with drawers in the great room are from Boston Store Furniture Gallery. The Seaside Globe light fixtures, which are customized in scale and color, can be ordered through Peabody’s Interiors.

» The bathroom faucet in the powder room is by Rocky Mountain Hardware and ordered through Moore Designs Inc. and Bayer Plumbing and Heating Inc. The wallpaper, mirror and sconces by Visual Comfort are
available through Peabody’s Interiors, while the draperies come from Manhattan Textiles in Wauwatosa.

» For a nautical flourish, the furniture with rope accents in the screened porch is from Summer Classics’ Marina collection.


This story ran in the April 2017 issue of: