A Dream Lake House Come True
Take a peek inside a beautiful dream lake house design with the project designer and homeowner, Charlie Bolivar of Charlie’s Designs LLC.
I grew up in Jamaica Estates in Queens, New York, and have always been a city person. I have worked as an interior designer in New York City for the past 25 years and very much expected never to leave the comforts and conveniences of Manhattan. However, when Covid-19 hit last year, my husband and I decided to look for a home outside the city. This way we would have more outside spaces, while still remaining within striking distance of the city, where both our careers are based and where our friends and family all live.
We were lucky enough to find a beautiful lakeside property near Lords Valley, Pennsylvania. Located approximately 100 miles west of New York City.
A Dream Lake House Becomes Reality With
Charlie’s Designs LLC
Photography by Elizabeth Leidel
We fell in love with this particular lake house as soon as we parked in the driveway for our initial viewing in the summer of 2020. The house itself was built in 1977. It reminds me a little of some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, who is one of my favorite architects. The house sits on almost one acre of land. Including about 60 feet of private lakeshore and more than a hundred trees. It’s still hard to tell who is most in love with this setting—my husband, who loves birdwatching and kayaking, or our eight-year-old Goldendoodle who is crazy about swimming in the lake!
While the house is structurally sound, it was definitely ready for some gentle interior renovations! We decided to maintain the lake house style and countryside atmosphere of the first floor. However, we were keen to introduce a more minimalist, modern design to the second floor where all of the main living spaces are located. My preferred design style is minimalist. I really believe that sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to a successful design.
The First Floor Reimagined by Charlie’s Designs
On the first floor, this dream lake house delivers a large family room that begged to be turned into a modern-day mancave. As well as two guest bedrooms, a guest bathroom, laundry room, and a sauna with a separate shower. The family room has two large French doors that open to a backyard that gradually slopes down to the lakefront. This room offers beautiful views of the water!
Our remodeling of the first floor included installing a new carpet. I chose to install the same carpet throughout the family room and both guest bedrooms to create a consistent flow across the first floor. In addition, I added various different wallpapers that play well off the newly installed carpet. And with motifs that hint at either the water or the wooded landscape surrounding the house. New stone floors in the laundry room and guest bathroom as well as the original 1970s wood paneling in the family room further contributes to the country house atmosphere.
Lake House’s Bar & Family Room
The family room on the first floor has become our favorite place to relax in this new house! We’ve turned it into a multi-purpose space that boasts four large movie theater chairs facing a flat-screen television; a new built-in bookcase with a reading nook; a large 1960s pool table which we inherited with the house, along with a new dry bar; And a workout space that features a digital resistance exercise machine and a closet for storing workout gear.
The bar area next to the pool table was created by converting a former linen closet into a liquor display on backlit glass shelves. And by adding a separate oak-barrel style bar counter. A variety of different artwork and accessories picked up during various family vacations, round out this warm and welcoming space.
An Entrance from the Lake to a Cozy Space
The hallway by the main entrance has a staircase that connects the first floor to the upstairs living area. It was previously somewhat isolated from the rest of the house and originally featured a solid wall along the staircase as well as another perpendicular wall at the top of the staircase. We knocked down these none load-bearing walls and replaced them with glass banisters and a very modern metal railing.
The hallway space has now become light and airy and provides the perfect introduction to the second floor, which itself is flooded by light flowing through the many large windows along each side of our dream lake house. A new built-in planter and a large, recessed Buddha head (carved from volcanic rock and picked up during a vacation trip a few years ago!) now complete the hallway space.
We replaced the original wooden floors throughout the upstairs area with large, white marble tiles. I picked a large size tile (24” x 24”) to use throughout the second floor, except in the main bedroom and its ensuite bathroom. By using only one type of tile consistently throughout the upstairs area this space feels both modern and light. While the upstairs area is very large and open, I deliberately did not fill the space with too much furniture or accessories to ensure it feels light, uncluttered, and modern.
Artwork from Lumas
The oversized artwork featured throughout the house (which includes a huge photo of our dog!) were all custom printed on glass, using our own travel photos and the top-quality work of Lumas.com, an online art framing company that shipped their finished product directly to our home.
A Dream Lake House Modern Family Kitchen
The original design of the house featured a small, enclosed kitchen in the middle of the second floor. We were able to remove those enclosing walls (which were not load-bearing) and thereby created a much larger kitchen with a huge island. The kitchen space now extends into the dining room area to create the perfect entertainment space.
The marble countertop of the kitchen island mirrors the marble tiles on the floor, whereas the black countertops along the wall has a myriad of small, shiny specks that sparkle in the light from the undershelf LED lights as well as the overhead skylight.
New stainless-steel appliances fit snugly into customized kitchen cupboards. However, we opted for a paneled appearance for the refrigerator and dishwasher to minimize the number of shiny surfaces in the kitchen. As well as to present a more uniform look.
A former storage closet, that was originally located outside the enclosed kitchen, was turned inside out to house a mini-fridge, wine fridge, and a few bar shelves for wine glasses topped by honeycomb-style wine storage. This area now blends seamlessly into the enlarged kitchen. While also providing handy access to beverages for guests in the adjacent living room and dining room.
Main Bedroom & Ensuite
The main bedroom and its ensuite bathroom present a large space for retreat at the end of a busy day. Huge windows and two French doors provide a lot of natural light. Hotel-style carpeting, an electric fireplace, and large flat-screen television, as well as a custom-made king-sized leather bed frame and headboard, provide a luxurious but minimalistic space.
The main bedroom originally featured a large bathtub underneath a skylight. We quickly realized that we will likely never use that and instead converted the space into a new walk-in closet. The closet mirrors reflect the trees and leaves and also make the room feel even larger.
A Sunroom turned into a Home Office & Breakfast Room
Finally, the sunroom which juts out from the second floor was turned into a home office and breakfast room. I added a mural alongside the main wall, choosing an autumnal design. Featuring a lake and wooded landscape that is reminiscent of the surrounding landscape here in northeastern Pennsylvania. The completed room made an impression on the vendor from whom I ordered this customized mural. As a result, they featured this Charlie’s Designs room in a brief article in their online blog at magicmurals.com! The sunroom provides fantastic views of the lake and by adding this mural to the room I was able to create some subtle continuity between the exterior landscape and the interior space.
The renovations for our dream lake house lasted almost five months, right through the winter months of early 2021. While we were lucky not to have this timeline significantly impacted by the supply chain delays that have plagued the construction industry, it took us an additional two months to finalize the overall design. The end result is a home we are extremely proud of. And that has become our country refuge where we hope to spend many relaxing weekends and summer vacations away from the hustle and noise of New York City!