Dreaming of a lake home where they could gather with family and friends, Laura and Ken Higgins were inspired by the classic lodges at U.S. national parks, such as Yellowstone and Glacier. "They're so comfy and inviting," says Laura.
The couple found a site for their getaway home on Round Lake near Hayward, Wis., and hired Rehkamp Larson Architects, whose work they had admired. Architects Jean Rehkamp Larson and Sarah Nymo made the most of the lake setting by designing a long, linear home with two bedroom wings angled 10 degrees, which offers some separation from neighbors and allows the house to hug the shoreline. "Our goal was that every room have a lake view," says Laura.
The exterior features a mix of materials that make the home look like it's always been there, says Nymo, including chinked logs on the central portion of the house and cedar board-and-batten siding on the bedroom wings. The window frames and boathouse are red, adding a playful touch and "a way to find your house when you're out boating," Nymo says. Inside, the home is casual and rustic with no-fuss finishes that lend themselves to relaxing and unwinding.
"We were looking for a very comfortably worn-in feel," says Laura. "Like an old comfortable pair of jeans," says Nymo.
Reclaimed barnwood from Manomin Resawn Timbers was used for beams, flooring, window trim and built-ins.
"It's a very comfortable material for a cabin," says Nymo. "It has so much depth and character," including tool marks on the wood and even traces of red paint. "If it's nicked, it only enhances it."
There are inviting nooks and built-ins, including a hidden toy cupboard with a secret latch under the staircase, designed with future grandchildren in mind. "It's meant to be a cozy play space for little ones," Laura says.
Also tucked under the stairs is a built-in bench, just off the kitchen. "It's part of the kitchen but not in the way — a spot to relax and read a book," says Nymo.
The bench is "the most popular place in the whole house," Laura says. "Everyone loves that, gravitates to it. You can close your eyes and take a nap — and people do."
Also highlighting the kitchen is a backsplash of patterned encaustic tile that resembles a quilt. "It's fun, and feels so of the place, northwest Wisconsin — a cultural craft," Nymo says.
The comfy lake home is a magnet for friends and the Higgins' two young adult children, just as the couple had hoped. Last year, their daughter asked, "Do you mind if I bring friends for Labor Day weekend?" Laura recalls. She brought 10. "We got air mattresses and it worked out fine," Laura says. "It was a fun opportunity to spend time with her and her friends."
Laura especially loves the porch, the bunkroom with built-in bunk beds of reclaimed wood and the boathouse where they often eat supper. "I love the whole place," she says. "It makes me happy."
(Other contributors to this project include Lucas Thorne Construction, interior designer Talla Skogmo and Dawn Feda, Hirshfield's.)