Lakeside Legacy

Built with tradition in mind, this shingle-style cottage continues a family’s longtime love affair with Lake Winnipesaukee.
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The cottage’s living room culminates in a wall of glazing prefacing an expansive outdoor deck, which is one of the family’s favorite spots for lounging and lunch. The brass candlestick chandelier from Visual Comfort is in scale with the voluminous space.

Lake Winnipesaukee holds a special place in their hearts. “My husband’s great-grandfather went to the lake initially and fell in love with it,” explains the wife. “He started bringing his kids to the lake each summer, and the tradition continues now with our three children and their cousins.

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“This double-volume section takes advantage of the gambrel design and makes the house feel bigger than it actually is,” says architect Michael Patrick of the main living area’s verticality.

“It’s where my husband first introduced me to his family. It’s where he first said, ‘I love you,’” she continues, recalling the many happy memories formed over the years. “For us, it’s a magical place where we get to enjoy the area’s natural beauty and also a sense of togetherness.”

Over the years, generations of children and grandchildren built vacation homes in the same neighborhood, forming an informal community. Family members visit each other by boat or golf cart. Cousins stay up late playing board games and putting on talent shows. Parents plan barbeques and take sunset boat cruises on placid lake waters. Fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, even ziplining, are all daily activities.

For their own treasured slice of shore, this couple decided to build a “Plan A” cottage first, with a “Plan B” main home to come later. “Our children are young—ages three, five and seven—and we weren’t sure what their needs would be long term, or if our family would expand,” she explains of the decision to start with the smaller project.

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Interior designer Tiffany Harris sourced and framed a vintage swimsuit as an homage to what the owners’ grandmothers might have worn in the 1920s.

They hired Washington, D.C.-based firm Barnes Vanze Architects to realize their vision of a family-friendly cottage built for easy, breezy summer living. Founder Anke Barnes and principal Michael Patrick embraced the opportunity.

“We have worked for the husband’s family at Lake Winnipesaukee for 15 years now and have built a number of houses up there,” notes Barnes. “These clients represent the younger generation. They desired something a little different than what’s been done before. They craved some distinctiveness and were drawn to the shingle style.”

“We wanted to feel a sense of history and tradition with this home; we didn’t want it to feel too modern,” explains the homeowner. “We plan to have this home in our family forever.”

The architects developed a gracious silhouette with a gambrel roof, evocative of a carriage house that would have been typical on a grand estate. “We softened the form a little so that it harmonizes with the wooded setting,” says Barnes, adding that the decorative exterior flourishes are characteristic of the shingle style. “They provide scale and interesting shadows, and add real charm,” he explains.

“In fact, this cottage has two fronts since it has both a landside and a lakeside approach,” adds Patrick. “We accentuated the side entrance with an articulated portico over the door to guide visitors on where to go.” This side door services both “fronts” in an efficient, space-saving arrangement.

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When in residence,
the family spends as much time outdoors as possible, particularly on their deck, which doubles as an outdoor living room. Here, wicker sofas from Ballard Designs invite lingering.

On the cottage’s water side, an expansive deck doubles as an outdoor living room. The deck was designed to “feel grounded and substantial, like a piece of the building,” notes Barnes. “The lattice work and arched openings are evocative of garden structures and give a sense of intentionality.”

Three garage bays dominate the lower level, with a mudroom, bathroom, and laundry area handling water sport gear, dirty towels, and wet foot traffic. In an upside-down arrangement, the main living spaces above—at just over 1,700 square feet—seem to float among the trees thanks to their extra 10 feet of elevation. “When we have visitors, they always say it feels like being in a treehouse,” points out the client. This arrangement also provides a higher vantage point from which to appreciate the lake views.

The living spaces are arranged symmetrically, with a primary suite and kids’ bunkroom on one end and a guest suite with kids’ bunkroom on the other. “This way two families can sleep over and still have privacy,” explains the owner. At the center, between these wings, is a spacious, light-filled great room and kitchen. Here, decorative beams, stained to mimic oak, break up the floor-to-ceiling V-groove paneling.

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“When guests visit, they always say it feels like being in a treehouse,” says the owner of the kitchen’s upside-down vantage point.

“This double-volume section takes advantage of the gambrel design and makes the house feel bigger than it actually is,” describes Patrick. The great room culminates in a wall of glazing, including two sets of French doors leading out to the deck. Transoms above capture extra doses of light and views.

With the clients hailing from California, New Hampshire-based builder Wood & Clay played a vital role in maintaining the constant flow of communication required for a successful collaboration. “We work with a lot of out-of-town clients; we’ve been using Zoom since before the pandemic,” explains Vice President Shannon Robinson-Beland, whose father, John Robinson, founded the company in 1979. She and her husband, Kevin Beland, accept a handful of choice custom projects per year.

Robinson-Beland acted as headquarters, guiding the homeowner in material sourcing and maintaining deadlines. Outside, composite building materials—the garage doors and NuCedar shingle shakes—are low maintenance and long lasting. Inside, Wood & Clay’s craftsmanship is on full display, from the Swedish-inspired decorative stars incorporated into the balusters to the hinged doors concealing the great room TV.

Oak—the wife’s preferred wood—warms the cooler white tones and contributes to the lake house vibe. The hardwood appears in the kitchen island, reclaimed fireplace mantel, mudroom built-ins, and flooring. “Because this is a guest home, the clients were mindful of the budget and applied more detailed millwork in the central living area and primary suite,” notes Robinson-Beland.

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In addition to boats and kayaks, the owners’ Moke electric car provides transportation to nearby family cottages.

Another vital member of the design team was interior designer Tiffany Harris, who hails from Pasadena, California, not far from her clients’ primary residence. Working remotely, Harris was able to channel the wife’s desire for a light, bright interior but with some rustic touches to reflect the woods outside.

“She’s a traditionalist and is drawn to beautiful things with detail, whether it’s the leaded glass cabinets in the kitchen or the turned wood on the great room’s spindle chairs,” shares Harris. Pulling colors from the surrounding landscape, they established a serene palette of ivories, blues, and greens. “We couldn’t help but mix in a little Cali aesthetic,” the designer says with a laugh, “but her main directive was that it feel like an authentic lake house.”

For the design team, incorporating kid-friendly features was always front of mind. Some necessary architectural maneuverings left a spare niche next to the stairs in the great room, which they transformed into a whimsical hidden playroom, complete with a child-sized Dutch door, toy storage, and a porthole overlooking the stair. Equipped with a safety latch, the porthole only opens a couple inches, just enough for a shout-out to anyone nearby.

Another thoughtful and practical feature is that each bathroom boasts a pull-out stool in its vanity base. “My kids use those stools all the time,” says the client. “They’re so handy that I often catch my five-year-old washing strawberries in the bathroom,” she says with a smile.

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In the kitchen, a backsplash of handmade tile, an oak island, and a farmhouse sink lend vintage style.

Family heirlooms are sprinkled throughout the interior. “This multigenerational layering of nostalgia really personalizes the house,” notes Harris. The fieldstone fireplace surround emulates a rustic stone fireplace from the husband’s childhood lake house. The “Lake Winnipesaukee” sign above the fireplace is a reproduction of a cherished original.

Overall, client and interior designer had a lot of fun with their selections, particularly in the kids’ bunkrooms. “Where her husband summered, all the bedrooms had names,” explains Harris, “and my client wanted to recreate that same arrangement.”

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One of the owners’ two onsite boathouses boasts a grandfathered living space on its second floor. This is where the family’s children gather with their cousins for movies and games.

For the “Star Room” ceiling, they opted for a Cole & Son “Stars Midnight Blu” wallpaper to mimic the night sky. In the “Bear Room,” an adorable grizzly bear rug sourced from Etsy and a bean bag reading nook invite lingering. To round out the theme, a “Woods Onyx/White” Cole & Son wallpaper creates an interior forest of bare trees.

Playfulness continues in the downstairs bathroom, where the word “lake” is spelled out in the floor tile. (“We provided Wood & Clay with that design in Auto CAD, and they made it happen; it’s not a mosaic,” says Harris.) The wallpaper has a tongue-in-cheek outdoorsy theme. “Even though it was built first, this is still a second home, so we decided to take some risks,” notes the designer. “I really like this house, because it’s filled with so much love, nostalgia, and playfulness.”

With their cottage now complete, the owners’ favorite activities include leisurely lunches on the deck, joining family boat parades in their pristine Chris Craft, and tooling around in a sky blue Moke electric car. One of the property’s two boathouses has grandfathered living space above, which is where the kids often hang out with cousins to play games and watch movies.

“This is where we go to relax but also connect with our loved ones,” sums up the owner. “Family is very important to us, and being at the lake is all about family.”


BarnesVanze Architects
(202) 337-7255

Tiffany Harris Designs
(626) 429-7665

Wood & Clay Fine Homes
(603) 524-3128

Categories: Architecture and Interiors