WE DEFINITELY WOULDN’T MIND SPENDING OUR SUMMERS HERE.
photography by DUSTIN HALLECK
styling by JENNIE CORNELL
written by ALYSSA CLOUGH
Just a one hour drive away from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago sits the prettiest lake house on Lake Delavan, located in the neighboring state of Wisconsin. The lucky inhabitants? Kristi Kohut, founder of Hapi Art and Pattern, her husband Matt, and their son Owen. Their summer home wasn’t always the picture perfect mix of nautical accents paired with contemporary design, though. After one full year of renovations—including a 1,100 square foot expansion— the couple (with some help, of course!) was able to transform a 1960s ranch into a two-story Nantucket-style home. Keep reading to learn more about the impressive remodel filled with Kristi’s light and colorful designs.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO RENOVATE? AND EXPAND THE HOME TO INCLUDE MORE SQUARE FOOTAGE?The original home was a three bedroom, two bathroom, 1,100 square foot ranch on a great property on the lake. Big backyard, great lake views! We intended to use (it) as a weekend place, but it quickly became a full on summer residence, which every weekend would be bustling with family and friends. So my husband looked at me one morning at 6am when Owen, our nine year old, and his cousins were running around the family room and said “second floor—double the house”. From there, it was all about creating a great space, opening up the first floor so that would feel in place and would give us the space we needed and we then added an additional 1,200 square feet upstairs and now it’s four bedroom with four full baths. Plenty of room for “an open door policy”, which is exactly what we wanted.
WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THE RENOVATIONS?
SPACE, a bit more privacy, and an ability to do something fun, from a design perspective, without compromising the lawn, (which is) great for croquet with friends and most importantly family wiffle ball games after being on the boat all day.
WHAT ORIGINALLY DREW YOU TO THE HOME?
A few things. We needed something close to Chicago, so my husband could maximize time with us between business travel, meetings, etc. So we wanted to be within 90 minutes of our primary home, O’Hare airport, and his office, we needed to be on the lake, not across the street, not around the corner.
Built-ins Painted in Benjamin Moore Marine Blue!
WERE THERE ANY FURNITURE PIECES, DECOR, OR FEATURES YOU LEFT ALONE IN THE RENOVATION? OR LOVED SO MUCH YOU FOUND A PLACE FOR THEM IN YOUR NEW SPACE?
The built-ins. The previous owner added these fabulous built-ins in the family room and created a dining nook. Fantastic use of space, however, they needed to be “perked up” a bit, so I had them refinished in the amazing dark blue, added vintage brass pulls, and vintage brass lighting. And I had the sailboat art piece commissioned by artist Abbey Holden. Also the view, the back of the home on the 1st floor is essentially all glass looking onto our lawn and the lake. Priority number one was preserving that view uninterrupted as we added columns outside the home
HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE OVERALL COLOR PALETTE?
Really wanted to keep it light and airy, so we used a lot of bright white moldings and light soft grey, but then gave it personality with black and white tile accents in all of the bathrooms and interest with the deep blue built-ins. But of course, I do like color and couldn’t help but add some vibrancy with the artwork, pillows, and loads of design books.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE AESTHETIC OF THE NEW HOUSE?
“Welcome to the lake – grab a glass of rosè – drop your stuff in one of the guest rooms – we will meet you on the lawn or down on the pier”. Seriously though, we wanted a lake house— we didn’t want something that looked like it was from the suburbs, but we wanted space to entertain family and friends throughout the summer and having it as comfortable for our son and six of his buddies for the weekend, as much as it’s comfortable for dinner parties for 10 of Matt and my close friends.
WHAT INSPIRED THE DEEP BLUE HUE OF THE CABINETRY AND DINING NOOK?
As much as I love color, one of my favorite combinations is black and white, so this inspired the color in the master. Black can be a bit harsh, so I chose a really deep, dark blue instead to give that feel, but give it some softness. For the built-ins downstairs, as much as I wanted to (keep) the lightness and airiness of the room, I also wanted to give it a cozy feel, and to me, (that meant) punctuating the two sides of the room with the deep-blue jewel tone for the shelves. The stripe of the stairs is the same blue, too, so it all ties together.
HOW DID YOU BALANCE THE NAUTICAL (LOVE THE FISH PRINTS!), LAKE HOUSE FEEL TO YOUR SPACE WITH MORE CONTEMPORARY DESIGN?
My decorating style is very eclectic, I love to mix it up—new and vintage, classic and modern. And this mixture definitely captures the aesthetic of the house. We wanted a solid, classic base that echoed our life on the lake, so we used that as the starting point and ripped out the original kitchen cabinetry and added open shelving and we used lots (of) light colors throughout and lots and lots of white moldings, trim and woodwork—shiplap ceilings, etc. But then on top of these, there’s loads of color brought in with the artwork and textiles and a hint of glamour with the jewel tones, brass finishes, and antique framing.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THIS DESIGN PROJECT?
Mine was designing the structure with Scott Beckwith, our designer. I think this drove Matt crazy, I would obsess over a roof line or the placement of a column….
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU RAN INTO WITH THIS RENOVATION?
Ha! Structural integrity in keeping within the original foundation. One of the things we really wanted to keep from the original home is the tall, vaulted ceilings in the main room and so I incorporated this into the design, but as soon as we handed it over to our builder Dan Fahey of Jorndt Fahey of Lake Geneva, WI, we found out it was not structurally sound. So we then hired a structural engineer to work with Dan to add rigidity to the design and foundation work to the original structure vs changing my design and Dan and the engineers made it work. (Thanks Dan!)
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THIS DESIGN PROCESS?
I love the energy and excitement of the last week when everything came together. I think every single trade was working side by side, trying to get it done in time, on top of furniture being moved in, the stripes of the stairs were being painted, the rope railing installed and all of the light fixtures put up… And me sneaking in here and there to hang art and put all of the accents in their place. There were a lot of long days when you just wanted to crash from exhaustion, but there’s something about the camaraderie of pulling all the last bits together and the transformation is so incredible, finally seeing the vision come together.
YOUR STAIRWAY IS AMAZING! HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE THE STRIPED LOOK? AND WHAT ABOUT THE ROPE RAILS?
Ok, so the stripes. I have to say, I saw something like it on a design blog, but decided to use it to pull the downstairs design of the bookshelves and dining nook (all the same color) to the upstairs. The rope rail—our builder Dan Fahey found it and was literally installing it himself at 6pm on the Friday night before we moved in.
Gray Wall Painted in Benjamin Moore Sterling!
SHIP BELL WALL SCONCE wellappointedhouse.com
Owen made those—we were on a family vacation on Scrub Island in the BVI and Owen sat down and started drawing them. Of course, I saved them and then when I started to design the lake house, thought, I can send these to my framer and they are perfect. I think they make his room.
WHAT IS THE LOFTED SPACE USED FOR? WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU BUILT INTO THE HOUSE OR WAS IT ALREADY THERE?
The loft was a great accident. The house was being framed and we went up for a walk through with Dan and as we went into Owen’s room, we asked about the round window up there and at the time. The design had the window actually being in the attic space, so Matt and Dan climbed up there and started talking about how to open the space up so the window let natural light into the bedroom, so they figured it out to be a loft above the built in bunk beds. Owen has a few laid back chairs up there and his fishing books. To this day, Dan and Matt both claim it as their idea, so clearly we nailed that one!
Painted in Benjamin Moore Almost Black!
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE PIECE IN THE HOME? FAVORITE ROOM?
Matt and I would both agree Owen’s fish prints! Followed by a vintage telescope from the 1920s that I found at a design shop outside of Chicago. It’s 8 feet tall and adds a bit of grandeur to our bedroom—a 15 foot ceiling helps too.
Favorite room—our new bedroom, big, 700 square feet, a huge claw foot tub, a steam room, and a great view… Love waking up with the light peeking in through the French doors and the sound of the water and the sailboat halyards. Plus, it’s utterly silent when the downstairs is bustling with kids making s’mores on the patio in the evening after dinner.
IS THAT ART HANGING IN FRONT OF A BOOKSHELF IN THE MASTER BEDROOM? I LOVE THE WAY IT LOOKS AND NEED TO KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED!
My husband did it! I was out one morning walking along the lake and I came back and it was hanging there. I loved the way it looked and I asked Matt, “That looks great, how’d you come up with that idea?” And he looked at me and said, “It was on the floor and needed to be moved.” …It works…
(Love the white wood frames? They’re from Simply Framed!)
YOUR CLAWFOOT TUB IS PERFECT. WHAT INSPIRED THE MORE EDGY COLOR SCHEME AND OVERALL VIBE?
I wanted to add a bit of edge to the overall vibe, and to me the master bath was a great place to do this. We used the deeper hue on the inside of the bookshelves in the master to link it together.