Lisa and Duke Uihlein’s lakeside retreat looks decades older than the 1950s rambler they tore down to create space for it.

That’s because, even though their newer home was built in 2014, it evokes a North Woods lodge, punctuated with a stair tower reminiscent of old forest watchtowers. Inside, rough-hewn timbers frame reclaimed barn-board ceilings and hickory-plank paneling. A massive Montana stone fireplace soars to the great room’s vaulted ceiling. And the Uihleins even use an Old World wrought-iron crank to roll up their fireplace screen.

“We wanted it to look and feel like it had always been there,” said Lisa of the family-friendly getaway that they built on a lake near Hayward, Wis.

Duke Uihlein had grown up vacationing at the ’50s-era “cabin,” and the couple wanted to give their three children the same North Woods experience.

In 2007, they bought the property, covered with pines and birch trees, which had been in Duke’s family for decades.

The no-frills walkout rambler had small windows, a tiny kitchen and no screen porch, but it worked pretty well until their kids became teenagers and wanted to bring along friends for the weekend. “We simply outgrew the space,” Lisa said.

The Uihleins enlisted TEA2 Architects in Minneapolis to design a new main house and bunkhouse. The team used the reclaimed wood, along with stone and ironwork, to give both dwellings age-old character.

The couple requested that the spaces be roomy enough to hold large gatherings — they’ve hosted up to 24 teens at once — yet intimate enough to feel cozy for the family of five.

“We wanted the home to feel welcoming, with room to socialize,” Lisa said. “And our kids will eventually bring their kids.”

For inspiration, Lisa showed the TEA2 team photos of Blackberry Farm in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, where the couple had visited.

“We really liked the look, feel and mix of materials used at the resort,” she said.

The siting of the new dwellings also was designed to maximize light and lake views, said architect Dan Nepp.

The main house sits on a knoll, and the lot gradually slopes down to the lake. “The old rambler just didn’t match the amazing piece of property that was underutilized,” he said.

Nepp and project manager Aaron Frazier designed the home’s elongated rectangular floor plan to stretch from north to south along the shoreline.

The far wing holds the private spaces, including the master bedroom and bath. The center of the plan includes the entry porch, foyer and great room. The adjacent kitchen flows into a big screen porch, which opens to a bluestone terrace facing south. That spot has the best view of the dock, beach and watersport activities. “Now we can see what’s going on down at the lake,” Lisa said.

For the interiors, TEA2 designers melded stone, wood, copper and glass to fashion a timeless look.

“The materials also give the lake home a sense of history and the feeling of being Up North,” Nepp said.

The expanses of glass on the lake side add an unexpected modern touch. “But the windows feel well integrated because of architectural elements, such as deep eaves, timbers and rafter tails,” he said.

The new light-filled kitchen is four times the size of the old one, and is equipped with two islands “to serve breakfast to 20 kids,” Lisa said. It also has two refrigerators and a prep kitchen/pantry on the front wall.

Glass doors can be folded back to create a 12-foot-wide opening between the kitchen and screen porch for outdoor dining and lounging.

“In warm weather, we leave it open all the time,” Lisa said. “The porch is the summer living room.”

Although the main floor is 3,600 square feet, to accommodate big groups, the defined spaces beneath arched trusses make it comfortable for a small group, Frazier said.

Upstairs, four dormers draw light into the bedrooms, which are tucked inside the attic space. The walkout basement houses a rec room, family room, sauna, exercise room and two guest bedrooms.

Cool clubhouse

The Uihleins built a bunkhouse 125 feet away from the main house to give their teens and their friends more sleeping quarters and to serve as a hangout away from parents.

The bunkhouse building is tucked into a knoll and also houses an unobtrusive three-car garage. “It echoes the character of the main house but is more playful and charming,” Nepp said.

The “sleeping galley” is outfitted with eight bunks nested within timber columns and beams. Each bunk has an outlet for charging phones, a reading light and a cubby. The bunkhouse even has its own kitchen, bathroom and living room — all with treetop views.

“The kids try to take dibs on who gets to use the bunkhouse with their friends,” Lisa said.

Duke and Lisa plan to pass down the thoughtfully crafted lake home to the next generation and beyond — to provide a place where they can “shut down” and savor the outdoors.

“When the kids are playing badminton,” said Lisa, “not one of them has a phone in their hand.”


What: A family retreat and bunkhouse are designed for comfort with lots of age-old character.

Size: First floor 3,620 square feet, second floor 1,710 square feet, and lower level 3,810 square feet. Bunkhouse is 1,190 square feet. Main house has six bedrooms and 6½ bathrooms.

Design team: Architect Dan Nepp, project managers Aaron Frazier and Colby Mattson, TEA2 Architects, Mpls., tea2, 612-929-2800.

Builder: John Kraemer & Sons, Edina.

Landscape: Timber Ridge Landscape and Design, Hayward, Wis.

Interior design: Marcia Morine, Morine Design Associates.