Modern Luxury Lake Home

Modern architecture with scale and substance, and an ultra-sustainable Passive House footprint.

The design brief calls for a modern, streamlined 7,000 square foot lake home with 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, outdoor pool and Passive House performance. The lake is to the north, access from the road to the south—a challenging orientation for a passive solar design. This setup also means that the home ultimately has two frontages, and no rear. The natural topography is comprised of a significant berm between lakeshore and front yard—further adding to the challenge of siting a home here, which takes advantage of the both landscapes, views and natural sunlight. The Clients have a strong desire to offer glimpses of the lake right though the house from the front door, and provide guests with accessible pathways to the waterfront. Partnering on the design are Christine Frisk of InUnison Design, as well as Landscape Architect Travis van Liere.

As we go on the journey to explore design solutions which cater to the brief, we realize that the home is best located in the berm—simultaneously providing a cutout, and integrating into this natural feature to complete the vista from the water. Local zoning requirements further dictate placement—in particular in regards to the location of the pool, which will occupy and recycle the foundation of a cabin, which is to be demolished as part of the project.

The layout of the new home is divided both horizontally and vertically to cater to the desire for a clear delineation between private and public spaces. Access to the site is provided both on the lower and main levels, with access directly to the lakeshore, as well as the outdoor pool waterfront yard area, which becomes an extension of the living area. Clearstory windows on the south side provide solar hat gains and daylight to the public living and entertainment spaces, while bedroom suites are generously lit by windows to the north, east and south sides—taking in both waterfront as well as wooded and open areas.

Lower Level

The lower level is home to the main entrance with elevator and decorative stair. A generous mudroom connect the underground garage right to the entry area. The lake bath is also located here—making short trips from the waterfront to wash up before re-entering the home. Other rooms on the lower level include a kids’ project space, home theater, exercise room, wine cellar, and an office area, which doubles as a guest suite. Beach and pool toys can be stored in a separate space just below the patio and pool with ground-level access to the lake. Large, German-made triple-pane windows offer up views from the font door to the lake.

Main Level

Continuing the tour on the main level, the open, decorative staircase opens up to the living and dining area, and amazing open kitchen with an enormous continuous island, that doubles as an eat-in table. There is also an adjacent pantry area for additional storage and food prep during events. The one and a half story tall living and dining areas are separated by a room divider, which houses an ethanol-burning fire feature, which doubles as a window between the two. Large windows open the space towards the patio and pool area, with views of the lake beyond. Also located on this floor are two identically sized bedroom suites, which share a Jack-and-Jill-style bath, as well as a Powder Bath.

Upper Level

Moving up another flight of stairs, or taking the elevator, the Master suite comes next—occupying the entire upper level. With windows opening up views of all directions, there is lake-facing bedroom, with adjacent Master Bath and an amazing Walk-in Closet. The southwestern corner holds another small office and reading area, which is acoustically separated from the rest of the house. Opposing it on the northwest corner is a sitting area which provides views across the entire lake. Windows in this wing of the house are full height, with sunlight and views managed by exterior, motorized venetian blinds.

On the outside, the home is split into two distinct volumes—the east and west wings—like Yin and Yang. The east wing is clad in white siding with white colored windows, while the west wing is clad in a dark-glazed brick with anthracite colored windows.

On the interior, a simple color palette of whitewashed walls corresponds with natural wood window frames. Clean, European-style cabinetry in glossy white and matte grey are outfitted with flush-built in high-performance appliances. Baths are not lavish—just clean, simple and easy to live with and including low-maintenance surfaces throughout.

Using about 85% less heating energy, and 2/3 overall site-energy than a code-built home, this stellar performer is heated, cooled and dehumidified by a variable refrigerant flow air-to-air heat pump system. Solar thermal panels on the roof help heat the water for the pool, which is also super insulated. A balanced, whole-house energy recovery ventilation system provides fresh year year-round. The green roofs avoid storm water run off on site and can be host to a photovoltaic system, which generates electricity to power the home and electric vehicle charging station in the garage.

Key Features

  • Efficient floor plan layout
  • Compact building shape
  • Cost-effective, green construction methods and materials
  • Meaningful repurposing of existing structures on site
  • Superinsulated, airtight building envelope
  • Triple-pane high performance windows
  • Air-to-air heat pump for heating and cooling
  • Balanced heat-recovery ventilation
  • Solar-thermal domestic hot water system; also used for pool heating
  • PV-system and vehicle charging station
  • LED lighting throughout
  • Sustainable stormwater and landscaping practices

Project Details