Blue Lake Cottage

Highest comfort, performance and style replace an aging cottage in Northern Wisconsin's lake country.

Once home to a camp site, this lakeshore property features a cottage at the end of its useful life. Previous owners liberally modified spaces which did not suit their needs—thereby creating compromises, dysfunction, and a hodgepodge of styles. The site is challenging, with the old cottage sitting atop a mound between the lake and an existing ravine. Access to the main entrance on top of the hill is cumbersome. Add deferred maintenance, equipment and assembly obsolescence as well as a lack of performance, and the Clients are ready to start over.

We completely revisited the site conditions and came up with a brand-new site concept, placing the main entrance on level ground with the arrival on site and recessing the new building into the hillside—thereby literally integrating it more with its surroundings.

Lower (Walkout) Level

The newly designed arrival area is on level ground with the drive—thereby making getting in and out of the house a breeze. A bridge shelters the new garage, storage shed, and house and enables loading and unloading even in inclement weather. A generous entry and mudroom area greets visitors, opening to a multipurpose hangout space that can be closed off with a barn door. Three bedrooms allow sleeping for 6 people on the lower level. Separate toilet and shower spaces enable a more efficient use of those spaces during times of high occupancy.

The lower level is clad in stone, echoing the natural surroundings and embedding the building into the landscape.

Upper Level

Above the stone-sided lower level sits the main level, which offers 360-degree views of the lake and shoreline. A generous staircase brings visitors into the public area and also offers easy access to the lakeside mudroom and outdoor entertainment area. A Master Suite is located on the south side with the bedroom being separated from public spaces, while shower and toilet room remain accessible from the lake and mudroom area as well. This maximizes use and minimizes investment cost as the expensive wet rooms do double duty.

The north end of the building is comprised of a great room with kitchen, dining and living areas, and windows that offer expansive views of water and woods.

A single, simple shed roof covers the building, reducing first day cost and making maintenance over time a breeze. The roof’s angle is exposed on the inside making for an attractive, wood-clad vaulted ceiling.

The entire lakeside is used for an outdoor deck and trellis structure. The garage roof is structured as a rooftop terrace and accessible from the great room. Between the two, this site now features sunrise and sunset, covered and uncovered exterior spaces.

Key Features

  • Tight integration with a challenging site
  • Efficient and compact floor plan layout
  • Compact building shape
  • Cost-effective, green construction methods and materials
  • Super-insulated, airtight building envelope
  • Triple-pane high performance windows
  • Air-to-air heat pump for heating and cooling
  • Balanced heat-recovery ventilation
  • LED lighting throughout

 Project Details

  • Design: Tim Delhey Eian & Stephan Tanner
  • Project: 2016