A vacation home by a lake is the perfect opportunity to escape the everyday grind. While rustic lakeside houses have their own allure — and are wildly popular with North Texans — some love a more modern lake house that adds a bit of luxe to their lives. Whether you’re already the proud owner of a lakeside house or one is on your radar, we’re sharing decor and design ideas that can take a lake house to the next level.
So, what exactly is a modern lake house?
Modern lake-house decor incorporates rustic vibes that are intertwined with modern design. This mix brings a stylish edge to the place — while still respecting the traditional elements of a lakeside house. But, instead of channeling a rustic log cabin, modern lake-house decor makes the spaces feel much brighter and lighter. This hybrid style also incorporates bolder contemporary elements and often incorporates inviting earth tones. One thing is for certain: A modern lake house is anything but dark and dingy. Of course, one of the most important rules of lake-house design — no matter what design style you love — involves taking advantage of the views around you. The big idea? Create a tranquil, sophisticated space where relaxation is automatic. If you are ready to put a contemporary spin on lake-house style, take the following advice.
Create a contemporary color palette
The first step in creating a modern lake-house retreat is to focus on the color palette inside and out. Instead of the dark browns of many log cabins and lake houses, think light and airy. One place to start is with light blues — which reference sky and water — or cool grays. Pale citrus colors, such as light greens and light yellows, make for a calming palette, too. And, don’t discount fresh, crisp whites: Bright white walls reflect light and bring an element of airiness to a home.
What about the color of your kitchen and kitchen cabinets? This is another opportunity to incorporate a neutral, calming palette. The same advice applies here, too: Think of light blues, pale grays, pale citrus colors or fresh whites. As for cabinets, white is a classic choice, of course, but light grays, light beiges, light blues and light greens can bring a sophisticated, modern feel to a lake house’s cabinets, as well.
Make a statement with lighting
For modern lake-house decor, consider making a statement with contemporary lighting — especially if the home has traditionally rustic elements such as beamed ceilings or wood-plank walls. In those cases, sleek light fixtures will make a wonderful contrast. If the space is available in a great room, consider a large cylindrical or square chandelier, finished in brushed steel, dark bronze or brushed brass. Industrial-style fixtures — such as wire-cage or ribbed-glass pendant lights — add a graphic punch to rooms, too. Consider, also, the white-glass ball lights favored by the architects and designers of the Bauhaus: The slim poles or cords terminating in simple globes of glass telegraph a timeless modernity in any space. No matter what, think minimalist lines and simple materials when it comes to the light fixtures in your lake house.
Work with the wood décor already in the house
Lake houses often have walls and ceilings of slatted wood. While that may not say modern, there is a way to inject modernity using furniture and accessories. Clean-lined sofas, chairs and tables will push a woodsy room into a more design-forward direction. Consider modernist classics, too, such as a bent-plywood Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman upholstered in supple leather, or a curvy Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen, covered in smooth wool or Ultrasuede. The sleek lines of these pieces will add great energy to a room — while their superb comfort will fit right in to the lake-house life. The same trick applies to dining and breakfast spaces: Ring a table — even a rustic one — with modernist chairs to add instant contemporary flair.
Bedrooms can be made more contemporary, too. Say you have a rustic wood headboard crafted from wood planks. An edgy note can be struck by adding bold nailhead trim or stainless-steel screws along its edges. Bring in a solid wood nightstand with black hardware. Instead of hanging lake-house clichés on the walls — oars, boat paintings, rustic signs — go for compelling black-and-white photographs or colorful abstract art. Bring in articulated, architect-y floor lamps. Every subtle touch adds to the whole contemporary composition.
Don’t distract from those lake views
Those relaxing lake and woodland views are a serene experience that you will enjoy inside, too — as long as your furnishings and décor don’t distract. Modern window treatments are typically minimal in design, so think clean lines and no frills when you choose window treatments for your modern lake house. Window treatments are also another opportunity to incorporate wood into the décor: Consider using wood shutters in light finishes, for a contemporary look.
Incorporate color, pattern and texture
Even if your lake house’s furnishings lean toward the rustic side of things, you can modernize their appearance with contemporary colors, patterns and textures. This is a good time to get bold: Toss textured black pillows with white geometric prints into chairs. Drape brightly colored cashmere or wool blankets over the backs of sofas. Add colorful, sculptural vases to tables and shelves. If strong color isn’t your thing, pick a calm palette but bring in multiple textures and patterns for visual flair. Creamy colors, pale colors, monochromatic colors: They get more interesting when you vary the textures of things — fabrics, finishes, wallpapers — rather than the hues.
Make the outdoors modern, too
Don’t forget about the importance of the outdoor areas of your modern lake house. After all, part of the lake experience is spending time outside. One of the must-have features of a modern lake house is a fire pit. These can range from simplistic metal fire pits to more architectural fire pits crafted from stone, concrete or steel. Porch, patio and deck furniture should reflect the same styles you have inside the lake house: Modern outdoor pieces are key to modern lake-house vibe. (For a truly high-design direction for your outdoor furniture, explore the classic modernist pieces offered by Knoll, Cassina and Herman Miller that are now available in weather-resistant finishes and fabrics — so that MoMA-worthy design can be enjoyed outside, too.)
Your lakeside vacation home is a valuable getaway destination. And, as more people work remotely, it allows for even more time spent at the lake. If a lake house retreat — or a vacation home anywhere — is on your radar, an expert agent at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty can help find the perfect one for you.
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