by Erin Hemme Froslie
Sometimes it’s the simplest details that take the most thought and coordination. But for a lake home in northeastern South Dakota, that intentionality creates an effortlessly functional, yet beautiful destination for a growing extended family.
Details pop up in the most unexpected places, including an essential but often forgotten element of exterior design: the house number.
“When you don’t think about how it will work with the rest of the home, somebody will just put them up somewhere,” says Jackson Strom, project manager at Chris Hawley Architects.
But if you value function and design, you thoughtfully cut the house number out of the black metal that serves as a railing around a window well. You also conceal the window well ladder by mounting it to the backside of the metal barrier.
“So, the piece serves as a fall barrier, hides the ladder and displays the house number,” Strom says. “It serves a purpose, but it also becomes a fun detail.”
Strom designed the South Dakota lake home after receiving a call from the family. While boating around their lake one afternoon, they had fallen in love with a contemporary-styled home that he had designed.
“The homeowner’s (grown) son said if they ever built new, he wanted something like that one,” Strom says.
The family had enjoyed lake life for more than two decades. They had a small, one-level home that held lots of memories: teaching kids how to do water sports, boating and hanging out together. They cherished close ties to their lake neighbors and appreciated watching each other’s families grow.
But their children were grown and the family was expanding through marriages and the birth of grandchildren. The lake was still home for the empty-nester couple. But it also was a weekend getaway for one of their adult children’s families who lived nearby. Their other grown children enjoyed the lake as their summer vacation destination.
To accommodate the growing brood, the homeowners tore down the original home and started fresh. The result is a contemporary two-story home with a walk-out basement that boasts clean, simple lines and details that support an unpretentious welcome. It’s a place where the homeowners can comfortably live all summer long, yet easily accommodate additional visitors.
“We knew that the house would stay in the family and our kids love the contemporary style,” says the homeowner. “Now, I can’t imagine having designed it any differently.”
The family had a fairly short list of requirements when they first met with Strom. They wanted three bedrooms in an upper level and a main-floor master suite with space to get away from the chaos of crowds. They also wanted a bunk room for guests and their growing group of grandchildren – preferably in a walk-out basement.
Beyond that, the plans and details were left in the hands of Chris Hawley Architects and the construction company, Quest Construction in Aberdeen, S.D. To assist the homeowner with envisioning the plans, Strom presented interior and exterior renderings and hand-drawn interior elevations to the client.
“They saw what our vision was and trusted us to execute it in a way that was best for them,” Strom says. “It made the project enjoyable and so much better for the client.”
To take full advantage of the lot’s natural beauty, Strom designed the floor plan on an axis, connecting the interior and exterior spaces in an orderly fashion. The kitchen effortlessly flows into the dining room and great room area, which leads to a screened porch and a stone patio where barbecuers have a full lake view while cooking dinner on the built-in grill or a pizza oven.
Large, unobstructed windows maximize natural light and serve as a canvas for the outdoor view in nearly every room. Even when retreating to the master suite, which is tucked in the back of the home, the homeowners are lulled by the sights and sounds of a peaceful body of water.
To keep the exterior lines clean and simple, Strom broke the home into three modular sections. Each box is designated with its own siding: dark gray vertical metal, burnt orange Dryvit and gray lap siding. The limited color pallet and clean lines carry into the interior, which is filled with warm grays and bright whites.
The kitchen boasts custom-made white oak cabinets and wide-planked engineered white oak wood floors by Shaw. To keep natural light and views unobstructed, Strom eliminated upper cabinets. An island with a quartz top by Cambria provides ample space for meal preparation and small-group meals. The countertop on the island features a larger, bigger pattern while countertops along the kitchen sides remain white quartz.
“It was a way to be sensitive to the budget, but to also put the eye-catching details where they matter,” Strom says.
Two fridges and two dishwashers ease food storage and cleanup when the full family is gathered. A bar area at the back of the kitchen provides ample space for everything from an ice machine to a wine fridge to a coffee station hidden inside floor-to-ceiling cabinets.
To offer contrast and warmth to the space, Strom painted the bar cabinets a dark gray. He carried the color into the interior of the screened porch, matching the color of the exterior lap siding. Tongue-and-groove cedar ceilings were also chosen for the porch and the attached great room with a stone fireplace.
“It created a cozy feeling. A lot of these elements make the open, clean lines seem less sterile,” he says.
The master suite is tucked into the back of the home. But because the home is angled on the pie-shaped lot, even this back area has a wonderful view of the lake. A small den provides a place for the homeowners to find peace and quiet to read a book or watch television, even when there is a houseful of guests.
The master suite bathroom has a dual vanity and a large window above the tub that lets in south light but is placed high enough to provide full privacy without any window coverings. Strom utilized a horizontal drain in the walk-in tile shower. He chose a shower tile similar to the floor, but one that had a bit more texture. The floor gently slopes to the far edge of the shower. Eliminating a center drain doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it provided a sleeker, cleaner look.
“On every piece of the house we asked, ‘How can we best do this?’” Strom says. “We spent a lot of time making sure we did the best we could do.”
Details that Matter
It is seemingly simple details that make the home stand out. For example, Strom designed a screen wall with horizontal slats that separates the kitchen from the front entryway and runs through all three levels, ending as the staircase railing on the second floor. The wall provides a sense of privacy and division in the open floor plan, but allows visibility and natural light. The horizontal lines also are replicated on a wall in the great room where the flat-screened television hangs.
At first, the homeowner wasn’t sure how the screen wall would add value. It quickly became a favorite feature. “It is so cool,” she says. “It works really well as a design element.”
Another detail that took considerable coordination is the stair treads on the floating staircase. They were custom-made to match the flooring and extended beyond the stair stringer a quarter inch, giving a cleaner, finished look to the stairs. Even the pieces that covered the screw holes were custom-made to match the home’s woodwork.
While the main floor serves as the centerpiece for daily living and entertaining, the upper floor and walk-out basement provide those extra spaces that are needed when the rest of the family arrives.
The second floor was designed primarily for the family who spends nearly every summer weekend at the lake. It features three lake-facing bedrooms, one of which is a second master suite. A second washer and dryer are stacked and tucked behind a pocket door.
The basement includes a bunkhouse, a bedroom, a family room complete with a pool table and a bar. The walkout leads directly to a ground-level patio and the beach, which is where the grandchildren will begin to learn how to water ski and wakeboard.
The family spent their first summer in the home last year. Construction finished early, meaning they had the entire season to make new memories. “I like the functionality of it,” the homeowner says. “Every space is utilized and has a purpose, but it’s also beautiful. There isn’t a thing I wish we had done differently.” ~L&H