Classic Meets Modern in this Cozy Yet Stylish Dream Lake Home
Written by Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal & founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc.

The Wheaton home is more than your average lake house. This open-concept home is nestled on Gull Lake and offers five bedrooms, five and a half baths and nearly 5,000 square feet with endless views of crystal clear waters. When I designed this home, it was important for each square foot to exude entertainment and luxury. Step inside and see how we brought this design to life.

The Style:
The Wheaton design is situated on a narrow lot perfectly perched on the south end of Gull Lake, just an hour from Grand Rapids. This Dutch colonial home features a gable-style roof, which afforded a ton of space while maintaining that quiet cottage feel. The design style is transitional—classic finishes like the stone fireplace surround and white shaker cabinets with modern touches like the geometric pennants and chandeliers to break up the space.

The Amenities:
The main living space is long and open. We used white built-ins and a beautiful cobblestone surround to emphasize the room’s focal point—the fireplace. For this design, I used a 62-inch Napoleon Vector™ Gas Fireplace with a birch log set. Linear fireplaces often get deemed as contemporary or modern, which they can be, but The Wheaton proves that with the right design, surround and thoughtfulness, a linear fireplace works well in any home and with any design style.

The Outdoor Living Space:
To not offer an outdoor living space would be a disservice to homeowners. In this design, I included a beautiful back patio as well as a screened-in porch, perfect for a hot cup of coffee or a chilled glass of wine. More and more homeowners are viewing outdoor living spaces like this as a necessity, not an accessory. When life gets busy or chaotic, outdoor spaces act as a homeowner’s escape from life’s stressors.

The Function:
We designed this home for entertaining. Large windows bring in an abundance of natural light into the first-floor living space–an open-concept kitchen, dining room, living room and wet bar. Off the living room, a first-level master bedroom and massive on-suite with modern farmhouse finishes and a master closet with built-in storage solutions. This home has the ability to comfortably sleep the whole family and visiting friends, too. A beautiful staircase leads to an upper level where, at the landing, you can continue straight into a large bedroom or veer left for a loft with lake views, a bunk room and an additional bedroom.

On the lower level, a large space for entertaining, an additional bedroom, bathroom and additional storage. The unfinished storage space is accessible from the backyard, a great spot for all of those lake toys so owners can focus on having fun, not picking up clutter.

As an architect who has designed homes across the globe, homes big and small, fireplaces and outdoor living spaces are trends that aren’t going anywhere and should always be included in designs. The right fireplace offers heat (if you want it), ambiance and a focal point. By choosing a premium fireplace like the Napoleon Vector, I am confident it will provide lasting beauty and enjoyment every season, every evening and for years to come.

Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal, and founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc., is known for his one-of-a-kind home designs. Visbeen works with clients to understand the important aspects of their vision and then transforms these into a conceptual sketch right before their eyes. Winner of more than 100 Residential Design Awards and dozens of Best in American Living Awards, Visbeen incorporates these themes and more into his designs and his own home, located in Grand Rapids, Mich.