Text by Charlotte Safavi
When Michelle and Perry Browder decided to purchase a summerhouse, they looked no further than Williams Bay on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin. The couple and their children became enthralled with the area from prior visits.
“We love our lake house,” Michelle says of the cottage-style home the couple purchased as a new build designed by Hummel Construction in 2018. “It’s only an hour and a half away from where we live outside Chicago. We use it as much as possible, but especially in the summer.”
The Browders brought in the interior design team of North Shore Nest, Suzanne Glavin and Melinda Cahill, when the house was under construction. “We’d worked successfully on [the Browders’] main house, so it made sense that they wanted our design direction on their weekend home,” says Suzanne. “They also wanted us to select all the finishes and add details for a customized look.”
Because the main floor plan is entirely open—from the street-side entry foyer to the lakefront great room at the back—the design team wanted to add some visual separation between the living spaces. For example, the foyer has a vaulted ceiling, while the library features exposed timbers. In a nod to the waterfront setting, the great room area has shiplap walls. “All the trim and ceiling variations served to enhance each of the ‘rooms’ on the open plan, as did the selection of light fixtures,” says Melinda.
The cottage-style kitchen, with its low ceiling, features not only Shaker-style white wood cabinets and polished nickel pulls, but also a pair of nautical-style, overscale brass pendant lights.
In the adjacent great room, where the ceiling height expands, the dining area is crowned by a pair of circular chandeliers above two tables that can be pushed together for large gatherings. A long custom-made banquette with channel tufting provides optimal seating on one side.
“Our approach with the décor was comfortable with a nautical touch and lots of clean, transitional lines,” says Suzanne. “We went with a timeless blue-and-white palette with hints of orange or green, but again, we didn’t want to overdo the nautical aspect.”
The use of small-scale geometric patterns, like Greek key or fish scale, for the upholstery and classic trim for accent pillows keeps the look timeless and sophisticated while complementing the setting.
Of course, the lake outside is always beckoning. “The homeowners love to entertain, so the furnishings suit a crowd, as well as being perfect for the family when they are spending a quiet weekend here,” says Melinda.
The main living area offers cozy seating around a cocktail table, as well as spots for solitude, such as the corner chaise lounge perfect for reading a book by the window.
Though the flooring throughout the home is hardwood, the bedrooms are carpeted for comfort underfoot. Each bedroom has its own distinct décor, with aquas and greens integrated into the neutral palette, but they are all designed to take advantage of the lake views.
“We love that every level is open to the lake,” says Suzanne, referencing both the main level with its porch outside and the basement level where people can enter off the dock. The Browders agree. “It’s really become our happy place,” Michelle says. “It’s where the entire family and our 3-year-old dog, Emma, can get away, play, and relax.”