A Passion for the Lake

Every day at dusk, the twelve-by-fourteen-foot picture window at Don and Nancy Vercauteren’s lakefront home off Moultonborough Neck frames a masterpiece by Mother Nature—breathtaking sunsets with hues of gold, reds and purples.

“The sunsets are spectacular here,” Nancy says. “The sky just fills with all these beautiful hues.”

The Vercauterens never tire of the setting. While they have lived in other parts of the country and travel extensively, these New Hampshire natives have a passion for the lake.

“This place touches my soul,” Don says. “I spent a lot of time here on Lake Winnipesaukee when I was a kid, with my dad, fishing and boating.”

Nancy, too, has childhood roots here, lots of friends and playful memories. “I’ve
grown up here. I learned to water-ski here,” she says, sitting on the octagonal
screened-in porch with the couple’s ever-present best friend—Diamond ‘Lill,
a miniature Schnauzer—curled up on a comfy chair. The view from the room stretches to the lake—Center Harbor to the right, the Ossipee Mountains to the left, out to pine-topped horizons and the blue hues of sky and water.

“Nancy wanted an On Golden Pond type home setting, and so did I,” says Don, referring to the Oscar-winning movie starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn that was filmed nearby on Squam Lake in Holderness. “I don’t know a more beautiful lake anywhere in the world than Lake Winnipesaukee.”

Finding the right site

Eventually, the Vercauterens found their near-acre of heaven with 155 feet of shorefront and an older ranch-style home that they eventually razed. Not all was forgotten, however, as Nancy and Don saved many pieces, including a shed/garage that serves as “Don’s den” with a casual bar, antique maps and signs, and pictures.

The Laconia-based Stewart Associates Architects designed the home, which was completed in spring 2006. Architect Peter Stewart says the vision was to build a home suited to the landscape, which also meant limiting the variety of building materials.

“We wanted the home to fit the land rather than dominate it,” he says. “We’re strong
believers in using good materials, but [in] using them simply, without a lot of affectation. We try to build for our time instead of copying something from 150 years ago.

“We let the materials speak for themselves,” Stewart adds. For example, the Vercauteren home has white cedar shingles instead of clapboard siding. “The way the sun shines off the shingles is similar to the way it shimmers on the lake,” Stewart says.

A tight squeeze

At less than an acre in size, the lot presented some space challenges, including abiding by the required fifty-foot setback from the lake. Add in wetlands on both sides and Stewart and Kevin McBournie, his builder, had to make the best use of buildable space. To ensure lake views from every room, the living spaces were placed on the lakeside of the house, with the hallways facing the back of the home.

As for the interior, the goal was to avoid “monumental styles,” Stewart says. The cathedral ceiling may be high and the picture window is large, but neither is overpowering. “Human scale is important,” he adds.

Inspired by nature, infused with style

Indoors and out, the home complements its natural surroundings. There are oak floors, pine beams, wood wainscoting and a stone fireplace. The bed in the master bedroom is made from logs, but the sage and cream bedding is luxuriously silky—not plaid flannel.

The Vercauterens’ recipe for their home’s décor called for a dash of rustic, a splash of country, a blend of antiques and newer pieces, and a secret ingredient—a heaping helping of sophistication. Nancy worked closely with Luke Dupuis and his partner, Ann Elliott, owners of Home Comfort, a home furnishings store in Center Harbor. Dupuis also served as general contractor for the project.

As for design details, while Nancy may not have known exactly what she wanted, she was certain about what she did not want.

“I didn’t want an Adirondack-style home, and I didn’t want rustic,” she says, adding that because of the setting, however, she gave the nod to some rustic touches—wooden countertops in the powder room, a wooden bear lamp, a twig chair and other accessories. The couple also had an ample collection of favorite antiques that they wanted to incorporate into this new space. The trick was blending it all together without creating an overly eclectic hodgepodge.

Dupuis helped the Vercauterens choose those pieces that were the most important to them. “They realized they couldn’t have everything, and I helped them select the things that would fit into the scheme,” says Dupuis. He collected other, newer antiques through his travels, and when he found the perfect antique buffet for the dining room niche, he had a base custom built. Another antique piece was turned into the vanity in the powder room.

“That’s what I love about Luke,” Nancy says. “He’s been antiquing since he was a kid and knows how to mix the old with the new, the reproductions with the real McCoys. He and Ann have an excellent ability to transfer all the ideas into what you see here.”

“He listens to what you want,” adds Don. “He has vision.”

Making the décor work

Dupuis says Nancy knew her palette — she loves greens, reds and yellows. “These colors gave me a good opportunity to get the outside in. In the kitchen, the green paint brings in the color of the lawn and the trees. It keeps the room nice and warm and cozy, he says.

And what about that living room window?

“In working with the architect, we wanted to make sure that view hits you in the face—we wanted that ‘wow’ factor, says Dupuis. “It sets the stage the minute you open the front door.
Specials features of this home include separate his and her bathrooms attached to the first-floor master suite; his and her offices; a private guest suite; an oldfashioned, walk-in pantry; cathedral ceilings; a country kitchen with stained-glass windows above the doorways; and an open floor plan for the kitchen and dining areas. All the rooms boast waterfront views.

In a setting like this, ever-changing sunsets and sunrises bring a unique kind of splendor to this home.

“The view becomes a piece of artwork for the home, Dupuis adds. Nancy agrees: “The sunsets are probably my favorite thing about this house.”