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Out of the past

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In an architectural nod to the rustic Adirondack camps of the 1880s, this lakeside vacation home celebrates local materials, a sense of history, and togetherness

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Around the turn of the last century, it became fashionable for the extremely well-to-do to build rustic large-scale residences in the mountains of the Eastern states. Created from timber and stone found on their sprawling estates, understatedly called "camps", these houses became icons of wealthy America. Architectural acknowledgments to this look come in large and more modest-sized homes.

This vacation cabin by architect Keith Summerour offers a direct reference to those homes – but on an intimate scale. From the roof pitch to the porches and rustic interiors, the four-bedroom residence provides an appropriate response to the lake and woodland surroundings.

"The owners had found an idyllic site, a peninsula nosing out into a picturesque lake," says the architect. "The holiday home's pine siding and split cedar shingles, in the tradition of Adirondack-style homes, sit well in the woodland setting. However, alongside the traditional look, the owners wanted the house to provide a sense of togetherness, and the floor plan directly reflects this."

Summerour designed the house to be entered through a foyer, with four small bedrooms leading directly off this space. Straight ahead and also accessed from the foyer, a living room is flanked by a screened porch and a kitchen and dining area.

"The owners wanted a single communal living space to encourage family members to gather together," says Summerour. "A double-sided fireplace creates a focal point on the far wall and also provides warmth on the porch side of this wall."

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A staircase leads from the foyer up to an open loft area, used as a study, that looks down into the living room. The stairs, built with split logs, are a good example of the home's rustic sensibilities.

Besides encouraging intimacy within the family, the design also brings communion with the outdoors. Doors open directly outside from the porch, and two of the four bedrooms have small sleeping porches that also connect with the surroundings.

On two sides, the wrap-around porch is screened against insects, but the third side is glassed, enclosing the kitchen and adjacent dining area.

"In the living room, three triple-hung sash windows slide and stack upwards, allowing easy access into the dining area," he says. "The stacking windows and bedroom sleeping porches are further nods to the Adirondack homes from the past."

The homeowners were closely involved in the interior design and ensured the look and feel indoors matched the exterior.

"White pine is used for the walls and ceilings in the home," says one owner. "Luckily, we found a local, small-scale lumber merchant who provided recycled heart pine planks for the floors. The distressed timber, replete with nicks and nail holes, has a darker tone and adds to the sense of implied history that runs throughout the house."

The same lumberyard supplied the rough-hewn cedar mantelpiece, and the chimney is built from local river stones. Other natural elements and the unadorned kitchen cabinetry contribute to the classic log-cabin feel. The owner says that much of the furniture is made from hickory, including the dining table and a four-poster bed in the master bedroom – the latter complete with a decoration of fir boughs and pine cones.

"We chose the soft furnishings to complement these natural elements and the wood interiors," the owner says. "Fabrics are largely in browns, olive greens and muted reds. Furniture was sized for comfort, to fill the spaces and create a cozy environment, while remaining mindful of the need for circulation. Some space was reclaimed by providing dining-area seating as a bench attachment to the kitchen island."

While the kitchen and the other two sides of the wrap-around porch are only one small step from the woods, a nearby boathouse provides further extension to the family's lakeside appreciation. This was designed by Summerour in a similar style to the house, and built in the same materials.

"The upper level of the boathouse offers an alternative outdoor dining area and an outlook right on the water, with screens, not glass, covering the windows," says the owner.

Together, architect and owners have created a residence that harks back to a time of grand-design, rustic summer houses. While much smaller in size, this lakehouse is equally big on relaxation.

First published date: 01 November 2007

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Credit List

Architect Keith Summerour, NCARB, Summerour Architects (Atlanta, GA)
Interior designer Owners
Builder Rick Buchanan Construction Company
Cladding Peeled logs, rough-sawn white pine siding
Roof Split cedar shake
Doors and windows Kolbe & Kolbe from Coan Millworks
Wallcoverings Heart pine
Blinds Reeves Hardware
Lighting Living room – chandeliers from Lighting Store; Black Forest Lamps and floor lamps from Toby West; master bedroom – side lamps from BD Jeffries
Flooring Slate flagstones; seagrass rugs from Myers Carpet
Furniture Family room – sofa from Ferncliff Falls; upholstered chairs from Perrin; willow branch dining table and chairs from Objects; Black Forest standing bear from Toby West
Kitchen cabinetry Barnwood from Gillespie Cabinets
Sink Stainless steel from Made Rite Fabrication
Faucets Tuscany Brass in polished nickel by Rohl Photography by John Umberger
Oven Viking
Microwave, dishwasher KitchenAid
Refrigeration Sub-Zero
Ventilation Vent-A-Hood Pro
Master bed The Summer House
Vanity Renaissance Tile; Barwood Gillespie Cabinets
Wall tiles and flooring Renaissance Tile