This New-Build Indiana Lake House Is Meant to Feel Like the Rippling Waters It Overlooks
From the blue paneled ceiling to the pleated tub pendant lamp.
Published Sep 25, 2023 1:10 AM
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Indiana-based artist Becky didn’t want to just see the water from her Lake Maxinkuckee home, she wanted to be surrounded by it at all times. “I had an old water fountain put in the front of the house just so I could feel the sense of water on both sides,” says the homeowner, who splits her time between the lake; nearby Culver, Indiana; and Florida, alongside her husband, a retired businessman. When the couple brought in designer Amy Knerr, founder of Of Place Studio, to bring the new-build home to life, Becky relayed the same message to her. They chose the white zellige tile in the kitchen because of how, when it reflected the light, it looked like rippling waves. The pleated linen Pinch light over the bathtub is meant to echo the froth on the lake when it gets choppy.
Becky knew exactly how they wanted to live on the lake—a result of coming to the same spot for 20 years. Before work began on this home, there was an old A-frame on the lot. While the size of the house and its layout no longer made sense for her family (which consists of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, all under age 7), Becky wanted to replicate its unassuming charm in the new house. She asked her architects, from the firm Michael Abraham Architecture, to introduce quirks like intersecting rooflines and an exterior partially covered in river rocks. “She wanted it to look like an old-English cottage,” notes Knerr. “It looks like this little house tucked into the woods, and then you see it from the back and you’re like, wow, this is spectacular.”
The magic is all in the details, like the primary bathroom vanity countertop with its double bullnose edging and mitered top. Even the baseboard trim in the space is finished in the same stone but with an ogee edge. “It’s carrying in that refined elegance, but it’s still rustic with the beams and the wood floors,” says the designer. The living room coffee table is crafted from an antique door.
Becky and her husband’s bedroom in the old A-frame was located in the open loft, which was ideal for when they were too tired to engage with guests downstairs but still wanted to feel one with the party. To maintain a similar sense of connectedness in the new house, they added an interior window in their bedroom that looks down to the living area. “We can shut out the noise if we want or be a part of it,” says Becky.
There’s always something to be part of: Two of the neighboring houses are owned by relatives, so it’s not unusual to find 20 people over for dinner. Knowing this, Knerr maximized the kitchen for entertaining. Tons of drawers (some of them ventilated) allow them to quickly stow away groceries so nothing ends up sitting out on the counter. A discreet pocket door leads to what the designer calls the scullery—aka the perfect hiding spot if you want to prep and chop in peace. “It’s basically a second kitchen (there’s a full range cooktop and dishwasher),” says Knerr. The nearby bar, though, is the first thing you see when you walk inside. Knerr added a copper footrest to the island to make it seem as though the island was pulled straight out of a pub in England.
Like the cabinetry, the floors are made of white oak. While Knerr admits she doesn’t usually finish boards on-site, the location’s humid climate called for it. “Because of the moisture that comes into the house, site-finished floors hold up better,” she notes. The planks are also thicker than usual (an inch and a quarter), so they are able to expand and contract more easily. The sticky summer air naturally makes its way inside when the windows and doors are left open, and also when the grandkids come back from using the slip-and-slide over at their great-aunt’s place. “We run the hose on it and that keeps them going all day,” says Becky with a laugh.
As to be expected, all of the art throughout the house is extra-personal to the homeowner, who has been an artist and painter for 60 years. Portraits of younger generations can be found throughout as well as scenes she’s done of the local farm country and wildlife. Her collection also encompasses the work of her two artist sisters and sentimental family pass-downs like her father-in-law’s binoculars from World War II and her mother-in-law’s china from the 1950s.
Even some of the paint decisions she made were personal. The baby blue ceiling in the guest cottage bedroom over the garage was a must-have. Becky has had a blue ceiling in every house she’s lived in. “When I’m up here, I get so excited, that if I can’t sleep, I just go and sit in different corners to see, what does it feel like if I’m a guest here?” says Becky. “Although it just makes it so I can’t sleep all the more because it’s so beautiful.”