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Project DetailS
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee Retreat

Lake Winnipesaukee RetreatLake Winnipesaukee Retreat

Located at the foothills of the White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee is New Hampshire’s largest lake, covering over 70 square miles and dotted with more than 350 islands. The name “Winnipesaukee” comes from the Abenaki people and means “beautiful water in a high place.”

Our clients — a young and active family of four based in Boston — came to us in search of a lakefront summer home that could serve as a seasonal retreat from the city. Where they landed was a wooded site with ideal southerly views of Lake Winnipesaukee, situated perfectly for New England, affording the opportunity to arrive from the North and then move towards the South as you walk through the home towards both the primary view and the sun.

At the start of this project, there were existing structures that had to be removed on both lots — a circa 60’s ranch that had long-since reached its lifespan (and was in violation of state shoreland zoning requirements) on the guest house/boat house lot and a poorly sited and configured circa 90’s house on the main house lot. Neither of these existing homes were in tune with their surroundings, missing the opportunity to connect to the views, the sun, and the outdoor spaces. Our site-specific design focused on defining a tangible, sensory and cohesive bond between the two lots, drawing a throughline from the outside, in.

Our clients dreamed of a place where they could regularly entertain visiting friends and family from around the world, offering a home away from home that was warm and welcoming. At the same time, they didn’t want the home to feel cavernous when it was only the four of them. Our solution was to design a series of interconnected and open spaces — a dining room, lakeside terrace, family room, west-facing courtyard, living room, and a recreation room — that organically pinwheel around the kitchen on the main level. We made sure that each of these spaces, that while connected to the whole, felt entirely different in character from scale, amenities, and furnishings to materials, quality of light, connection to the outdoors, and views.

The boathouse was an integral component of the overall design as the homeowners are avid boaters and water skiers. This aspect of the project required significant effort relative to permitting and design coordination with local regulatory authorities. Additionally, we worked very closely with Folsom Design Group in Wolfeboro and the NHDES to make both properties (the main house and the boat house) significantly less non-conforming all in an effort to be a better neighbor, improve the environmental impact of the properties, and decrease the site’s overall disturbance on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Our biggest design opportunity revolved around sunlight and views outside. With two narrow lots that ran South, from the view of the lake, toward North in their longer dimension, we looked for additional views from the home, and to find new ways to bring in the light. We intentionally kept the building as thin as possible, giving each room light, a view, and ventilation on at least two walls wherever possible.

With cozy home entertaining in mind, we designed the kitchen with a commanding view of both the rest of the home and the site. While standing at the kitchen sink you can see visitors arriving via car, or by boat, and from the path connecting the main house to the guest house, with a full view of the dining room, family rooms, and fireplace. The rec room with games galore is audibly connected to the kitchen via an open-air stair to the lower level while private family bedrooms are quietly tucked away on the upper level.

Further linking the building to its organic surroundings — the waterfront with a wood dock stretching into the water and toward the lake, mountains, and visible ski trails — our design featured an abundance of natural materials that serve as a welcome contrast to urban life. Natural stone walls and reclaimed granite pavers were used to join the structure with the landscape, a standing-seam metal roof promises long-lasting durability, and high-performance windows advocate for light, ventilation, connection to the outdoors, and energy efficiency.

A blend of rustic and modern details, the family now affectionately refers to their cozy retreat as “Treehouse Time.”

Project Completion Date: 2020


Trent Bell Photography


Builder: Beckwith Builders
Interior Designer: Belhaakon
Landscape Architects: Richardson & Associates
Structural Engineering: Albert Putnam Associates
Permitting: Folsom Design Group of Wolfeboro

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