The cottage purchased by Al’s grandfather in 1953 had seen generations of family gatherings and summers in Lake Geneva. But as the family grew, the house got more and more crowded. And what had been charming was starting to feel tired.

Kathi and Al spend a lot of time at the property, and they knew they needed to rebuild. They wanted to retain the lake cottage feel, but make the home more comfortable as a family destination. So, in addition to a fabulous master suite and open living areas, the new house includes a bunk room for the kids, as well as bedrooms, a rec room and kitchenette on the lower level. Now, instead of being on top of one another, each family can have some personal space.

A waters-edge, summer-vacation aesthetic sets a casual, inviting tone. “We built a home in Illinois about 10 years ago,” offers Kathi, “so we had some ideas about what we liked. I usually lean toward warmer colors, but we wanted the style to be more ‘lake’ and nautical, but not over the top.” That approach is evident in the marine blue tones that crop up throughout the home, knotty wood flooring and special design touches such as a round window above the bar. “The bar is all wood,” adds Kathi, “and the window is like a porthole in a ship, with a view of the water.”

Kathi and Al’s personalities comes through in other ways, too. Kathi’s love of color and pattern adds real warmth to the interiors. She even designed a stained glass window at the base of the stairs and had it created by a local artist. And Al’s millwork company customized cabinetry and trim, as well as the rich woodwork in the bar. Even the big garage features thoughtful cabinetry and rustic wood paneling.

Being so close to the water is not without challenges. As the English basement was dug, water began to seep in. To remedy the situation, the below-grade living spaces had to be enclosed in a waterproof bladder. Additional unfinished space is used to stow kayaks and beach toys.

With a gourmet outdoor kitchen, screened porch and more than a dozen windows facing the lake, the new house recalls the original cottage in one key way—the outdoor stain matches the color of the original cottage brought into the family nearly 70 years ago.