A Waterside Retreat at Squam Lake

Nestled in the unspoiled landscape surrounding Squam Lake is a playful, four-season vacation home that’s perfect for its owners and their children, as well as extended family and friends



Architect Treffle LaFleche's design for this Squam Lake home combines a traditional New England
aesthetic with modern appeal.

Summers are for creating memories; summer homes are places for making them. A Massachusetts family sought both on the shores of New Hampshire’s Squam Lake.

Inspired by the husband’s childhood vacations in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, the couple found an existing home in Center Harbor that was built in the 1970s. They spent one summer there before deciding new construction better met their needs and hired Treffle LaFleche of LDa Architecture & Interiors LLP in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to design a new home. “Treffle really listened to what we wanted,” the husband says. “He has a great way of telling stories about how to use a space. They make you understand what needs to be there for it to work.”

For LaFleche, the challenge was designing a home that satisfied the wife’s desire for light and expansive lake views as well as the husband’s vision of a New England-style retreat.  The home also needed to fit its natural setting while offering modern comforts for the couple and their three children—ages thirteen, nine and six—as well as extended family and friends. “Most people don’t have time to take long vacations,” LaFleche says. “They want to be comfortable and have the modern conveniences of their everyday residences.”

Builder Jim DePaolo of Denali Construction in North Reading, Massachusetts, worked closely with LaFleche’s project manager, Carter Williams, for nearly a year in tearing down the original home, clearing the site and framing the new house. DePaolo’s crew of seven did everything, from roofing to inside trimwork to cabinetry, shelving and closets. “It wasn’t a simple house to build,” says DePaolo, whose crew worked through the winter, often in subzero temperatures. “But it was a great project to work on.”

The staircase—made with acid-etched steel, white oak, and stainless steel cable—was designed by LDa Architecture & Interiors LLP and built on site by Denali Construction.

A playful layout

The four-bedroom home cheerily combines traditional New England style with a contemporary aesthetic. Viewed from the road, the home—built on a slope leading down to Squam Lake—appears smaller than its 3,400 square feet. “It unfolds and reveals itself as you come down the driveway,” the husband says.

A gravel drive leads to the home’s front entrance and a two-car garage; a screened porch is off to the right. The house seems to telescope into four separate units: the rustic porch; a kitchen and dining space; a dark blue stairway tower that connects the ground-floor and upstairs spaces; and a family room. Echoing the sloping site, the home cascades toward the water. This cascading effect is reflected inside as well; the interior spaces—family room, kitchen and dining areas, and the screened porch—easily flow into one another, offering expansive views of the lake. “You don’t see the lake when you approach the house,” the husband says. “But when you pass through the front hall, it’s stunning to get that first view.”

LaFleche used windows and corners as design elements throughout the home. Rows of windows in the dining and kitchen areas wrap around the sides of the house, accentuating corners. “The corners allow people to stand and observe all the views from the back of the house,” the wife says. The windows contribute to the home’s energy efficiency. The house has radiant-heated floors throughout; a forced, hot, hydro-air-heating system; tight insulation; and a metal roof. Ceiling fans keep rooms cool.  

Just off the kitchen and dining room, the light-filled
family room is anchored by a two-story fieldstone
fireplace and large built-in bookcases.

Natural gathering areas

With a beamed cathedral ceiling and welcoming fireplace, the family room is a natural gathering spot  (“I could be in there all day,” the wife says). The white walls are accented by bookcases and the ceiling, both constructed from Douglas fir. The focal point of the room is a large fireplace constructed of two-inch fieldstone veneer, providing the look of solid stone without its full weight.

Another gathering area is the large kitchen, just off the family room. Organized to serve visitors and guests without creating extra work for the homeowners, the kitchen features perimeter cooking and storage with an island in the middle. “A lot of thought went into how we’d use the kitchen but also how others would use it,” the wife says. “It encourages collaborative cooking.”

A hospitality area, convenient to the refrigerator and screened porch, allows guests to get their own coffee, tea and snacks. The dishwasher next to the sink allows for easy loading/unloading; dishes are stored in a drawer on the other side of the dishwasher. A second prep sink is built into the large granite-topped island, which is sided in shiplap fir and seats the entire family for meals. Easy-access white shelving and cabinetry as well as a pearlized glass wall tile create a modern, monochromatic look.

Porch perfect

The screened porch brings the outdoors in on all four sides. Constructed of cedar screen panels and Douglas fir, “it’s my favorite spot,” the husband says. The entire family enjoys the space, which suits lakeside living. Accessed from the kitchen, yet set off slightly from the rest of the home, the porch is a perfect spot to enjoy warm summer nights as well as cool spring or fall evenings. A ceramic wood-burning fireplace is a contemporary counterpoint to the porch’s rustic character and allows the room to be used three seasons of the year.

A staircase as a design element

Connecting the ground floor with the upstairs sleeping areas is a sleek, steel-cable staircase with oak risers. Built on the premises by DePaolo’s crew, the staircase bisects the ground-floor living spaces. LaFleche designed it as an architectural element, viewed from outside as a tower, “a stark counterpoint to the main house,” he says. Windows in the tower look through to the front and back yards.

Upstairs are three bedrooms and the bunkroom—the most popular sleeping space for visiting children. Each bed, as well as its corresponding cubbyhole and towel, is named for an island on Squam Lake. On the floor is a giant map of Squam Lake, so the children can practice their navigation skills. Bright blue and green bedding complements the colorful floor.

Landscape emphasizes natural surroundings

Matthew Cunningham of Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC in Stoneham, Massachusetts, worked with the homeowners and La-Fleche to develop a landscape that emphasizes the home’s natural surroundings and complements its contemporary appeal. Low-maintenance, drought-tolerant native shrubs and trees—including pine, paper birch and red maple trees as well as hay-scented ferns and blueberries—help the home blend with its woodland setting. The patio off the screened porch is made of reclaimed curbstone sourced from Franconia Notch. A small fire pit facing the lake is a relaxing spot to gather.

The home is now a four-season vacation retreat, and the homeowners have forged a relationship with LaFleche, DePaolo and Cunningham that continues long after the project was completed. The family eagerly anticipates their weekend drives north from the Boston area, looking forward to making new memories together. “This house has been transformative for us,” the husband says. “As our kids grow older, I like to think they’ll want to return here with their own children.”  


Just off the kitchen and dining room, the light-filled, family room is anchored by a two-story fieldstone fireplace and large built-in bookcases. Floors throughout the house are white oak; the first floor contains a radiant-heat system. 


The kitchen easily accommodates the family of five, who enjoy entertaining extended family. White walls and cabinetry lighten the space. The large island top and counters are granite; the island is sided in shiplap fir.


The iridescent-glass brick backsplash tile, Vihara Puka, is from Discover Tile LLC at the Boston Design Center; appliances are from Baron's Major Brands. 


The bunkroom sleeps eight or more cousins and family members. An oversized map on the floor shows Squam Lake and all of its islands; coordinating blue and green bedding comes from The Company Store. The beds are from Pottery Barn.


(Left) The kids' upstairs bathroom is painted a cheery blue; the retro sink is by Kohler. (Right) Two of the child-friendly bedrooms are connected by a loft space, easily accessed by a ladder.


The home's playfulness is accentuated in its front entry way, a welcoming place to hang towels and leave flip-flops after a morning adventure on the lake.


As one of the family's favorite gathering spaces, the screened porch is centered around the ceramic Malm fireplace, which provides
a cool counterpoint to the room's rustic feel. 


The home opens up visually out back, facing the lake. The house is designed in four separate sections: from right to left, the sunporch, the kitchen/dining area, a central hallway connecting the upstairs and downstairs, and the family room. The low-maintenance landscaping and firepit, by Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC, accomodates the active family.

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A Kitchen Collaboration That Works

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