Home Tour: This Sleek, Contemporary Cottage Rises from the Shore of Lake Michigan

We’re ready to move into this light-filled lakeside cottage.

When Patrick Jones, of Ramsey Jones Architects in Riverwest, set out to design a summer home for his clients on Lake Michigan, in Belgium, he figured he’d tack an extension onto an existing 1950s structure. After all, why build new when you’ve already got four walls? But a lack of “great bones” in that structure led to its demise. “It was decided to raze the cottage, build new and start from scratch,” says Jones.

It took six months to design, and then a year to build, the 1,200-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath, contemporary cottage, completed in 2015. 

The long and lean building boasts many windows. A compressed, open walkway carved into the design, framing a view of the lake’s blue waters beyond, embodies a key tenet of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture. A sliding door off the kitchen easily connects to the outdoors, and the screened-in porch extends the cottage’s use beyond summer, into the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

Jones’ main challenge? “Making it feel like a cottage in cost and scale: a second residence,” he says. A tight budget – coupled with his desire to source natural materials from within the region, and capitalize on natural light – created challenges.

Blonde woods on the interior allow natural light to bounce around. “I generally refuse to use things that look like wood but aren’t wood, or anything synthetic,” says Jones. The client was also in agreement.

For example, Jones sourced yellow pine from Peshtigo that was felled during a wind storm seven years ago. Cedar siding with warm, honeyed hues provides “a midcentury modern feel,” he says, while tongue-and-groove Douglas  r was used for the roof decking. Maple-trim windows with caseless framing came from H Window in Ashland: Jones fell in love with their timeless design.

Jones likes “the warm, bright feel of the interior,” including the Lake Michigan views from every room. Come night, the cottage’s soft glow resembles a park lodge, a beacon along the shoreline.

Take the Tour

by Dan Kabara

“Looking Sharp” appears in the June 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning May 28th, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine), FoodRepublic.com, CNN.com and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.