A Gathering Place

By Shelby Deering | Photography by Chris Kayser

For well over a century, families have flocked to Geneva Lake. Its crystal-clear waters and beaches offer fun-filled adventures, and the communities that surround it provide every imaginable amenity. It’s truly a special place that many families find irresistible — and not just for a weekend visit.

The attraction of lake living is deep-seeded and multifaceted. Owning a lakefront home here most certainly comes with impressive views and quick access to the water, but most importantly it provides the opportunity to create a gathering place — a haven where extended family can congregate and relish in each other’s company.

The owners of this exquisite home have done just that, crafting an oasis where their family can relax, reflect and make memories that will last a lifetime.

AN IDYLLIC LOCATION

This 11,000-square-foot residence is located on the lake’s south shore. It’s in good company with neighbors like the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Black Point Estate & Gardens to the east and private estates such as Allegheny and Fair Lawn just a short distance away. These storied homes, which have graced Geneva Lake’s shores since the late 19th century, give a glimpse into the early history of the area. This relatively new home, built in 2001, echoes the grandeur of these stately properties and boasts today’s comforts and conveniences.

With a jaw-dropping view that overlooks a sweeping slice of the lake, the property serves as a family compound for the couple and their five children, who range in age from 30-39, plus spouses, grandchildren and two Portuguese water dogs named Sox and AJ.

Even though this is their second home (the couple’s primary residence is in Naples, Florida), this dwelling is very close to the homeowners’ hearts.

“In the summer of 2001, we were visiting close friends in Lake Geneva and happened to see the house when it was under construction,” they explain. “It was during a sunset cruise and it was the view of the breathtaking sunset from the house that sealed the deal.”

They continue, “Previously, we had summered in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, while always visiting friends in Lake Geneva. While in Nantucket during a dinner, we asked our family where they would like a second home and Lake Geneva was the overwhelming choice. They wanted a place where the whole family could gather and visit friends already there.”

Inspired, the couple ended up purchasing the home in 2002 after its completion.

THOUGHTFUL RENOVATIONS

Since the home was built less than two decades ago, it hasn’t require nearly the in-depth renovations that are sometimes required of lake homes. But with three floors featuring eight bedrooms, nine full baths and three half baths, there have been a few significant changes to this multi-level home over the years. “We always look at ways to improve the house and keep it current,” the homeowners explain.

The couple has completed three separate remodeling projects throughout the home. During the first project, a new and improved master suite was constructed. Originally separated into two rooms with one closet, “it was too small for two people,” they say. This project entailed removing a wall and opening up the space to create one large suite with his-and-hers closets and his-and-hers bathrooms.

Next, the couple took on the kitchen, explaining that its original design incorporated three separate areas: the kitchen, the hearth room and a butler’s pantry. “We opened all that up and created one large space with the kitchen, sitting area and a full bar. Now it works well as a wonderful gathering place for our growing family,” they share.

When the grandchildren came along, it was time to make the home even more family-friendly. A bunk room and play space were added above the garage specifically with the grandkids in mind. “We call it ‘The Treehouse’ because you can see western lake views through trees that are visible from all the windows and you feel like you are in a treehouse,” they explain.

WARM SURROUNDINGS

Much of the home’s décor reflects the couple’s desire for comfort with traditional style taking center stage.

Comfortable is certainly an accurate word to describe the accessories throughout the home. Plush throw pillows and cozy linens soften nearly every room. The white and cream color palette is oh-so easy on the eyes. Rooms are arranged to encourage long conversations and joyful times spent with friends. While one dining room is intended for formal gatherings, another is set for casual meals made for fun, family dinners.

Lakeside living is illustrated with colorful paintings throughout the home. For instance, in one of the living spaces, you’ll find Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s Lady of the Lake gracing the wall. “Our family loves to charter the steam yacht Louise on an annual basis and we’ve chartered Lady of the Lake for special occasions,” the homeowner says.

Other beloved lakeside locales are represented in the home as well. An oil painting showcasing a sailboat-filled lake and nearby garden is featured on a wall alongside a doorway.

This particular painting, the couple explains, was done by the famous French impressionist Pierre Bittar and the subject is Harbor Springs, Michigan.

Even The Treehouse displays a bit of artwork. Amid reclaimed wood accents fashioned by Elkhorn’s Heritage Beam & Board, the blue barn door sweetly shows off the grandchildren’s initials.

To punctuate the home’s charming interior, the outdoor spaces present equally delightful details. With its tranquil pool, comfortable lounge chairs, dedicated dining space and stone walkway that meanders to the water, the homeowners have created a lakeside paradise. Gorgeous landscaping dotted with perennial plantings is picture-perfect thanks to Mariani Landscaping of Lake Bluff, Illinois. In the summertime, fresh- from-the-garden flowers often make their way inside the house.

Last summer, the property was featured as part of the Lake Geneva Garden Club’s biennial Lake Geneva Garden Walk. Although not a member, the homeowner says she “loves to go on the Garden Walk to see other homes and gardens on the lake,” no doubt to gather inspiration for her own home.

FAMILY FUN

When asked about their favorite aspect of the home, the couple says, “Having plenty of room for the family to gather. There are large, comfortable areas where the family can hang out together in addition to small areas where one can escape to quietly read a book or take a nap.”

These expansive areas include outdoor spots, like the spacious deck, airy patio and screened porch. Indoors, the family can lounge in the five living spaces while the little ones play the day away in The Treehouse.

“They love the bunk beds and The Treehouse play area,” the homeowners say. “It accommodates the cousins getting together yet gives each one of them their own private space.”

Situated on the western shore of the Black Point Peninsula, family members travel from near and far to enjoy the spectacular views and sunsets. “It is convenient to Chicago for two of our children and their families, and it’s also convenient for our three daughters who live in New York. They can jump on a plane and fly to Milwaukee and be here in no time.”

At the end of the day, this home really is a utopia for sharing quiet, and at times not-so-quiet, fun family moments. “All five of our children live in big cities, so getting away to Lake Geneva is a treat for them and a way to decompress from the hustle of city life,” the homeowners note. “As our son-in-law has said, Lake Geneva is about food, sleep and golf, in that order.”

And then there’s the honorary title the home carries: “Stone’s Throw,” which is inscribed in the stone gate as you enter the driveway. The name offers a bit of whimsy, but it turns out it has special meaning for the family as well.

As the homeowners explain, “Stone’s Throw is a metaphorical reference to how physically close the home is to beautiful Geneva Lake. It is also a reference to how easy it is for our family members to get to the lake and finally, it is a reference to how both those things help to keep our family close together.”

Not unlike past families who traveled to Lake Geneva, the essentials have remained the same: soak up as much as you can of Geneva Lake; listen to the crickets sing on summer evenings; and create lifetime family memories.

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