By Shayna Mace | Photography by Shanna Wolf
Situated on an idyllic piece of property tucked into a homey subdivision on Upper Genesee Lake is Gloria and Doug Lehrer’s polished, yet family-friendly home. Gloria, owner of architecture firm Designs Galore, designed the house herself and also worked closely with interior design firm Collaborative Design on the inside spaces. That personal stamp is felt seamlessly in every inch of the indoor and outdoor spaces, and no space goes unused: “We literally live in every corner of this house,” she says.
Gloria, Doug, sons Eli and Zach, and dogs Gilly and Simon moved into the home built by Ascent Building Solutions about three years ago in September 2014. Previously, the family lived near Wood Lake on the north end of Lac La Belle in a home Gloria had designed—but the couple realized that it wasn’t configured with kids in mind, and the property (which wasn’t on the lake) would’ve required extensive renovations. “We decided we wanted to stay in the area. But if we were going to be tortured by passing by the lakes all of the time, then we needed to be on the water,” she says, smiling.
Gloria designed the new home to maximize the water views and expertly employed angles so the interior feels light and bright. Another commanding design element she knew she wanted is right when guests enter the home: an open “silo” area that has a soaring 21-inch in diameter solar tube that lends sun during the day and mood lighting in the evening. The entryway opens up to the expansive kitchen, dining room, great room and screened-in porch.
“This silo is a way for people to come into the space, and then the house opens up to you,” she explains. “It’s the introduction.”
The home has a modern, clean aesthetic with rustic and vintage touches throughout, like the hardy white oak floors and cabinetry juxtaposed against a matte white subway tile backsplash and Danby marble and soapstone countertops in the kitchen. The genesis of the room’s eye-pleasing look was the reclaimed wood range hood above the stove, Gloria explains.
“The range hood is salvaged pickle vat boards— they’re super cool. [My husband and I] were at a wood specialist that Collaborative Design works with in Mazomanie. We found them in his barn, and that became the theme for everything else [in the room]—mixing the black and white.”
A farmhouse sink with industrial-look fixtures, modern pendant lighting and pantry that also employs reclaimed barn touches within round out the homey, well-designed space. “I love to mix salvage pieces with things that have modern, clean lines,” says Gloria.
Adjacent to the kitchen is a table from Steinhafel’s that seats 10, and above it hangs a rustic chandelier that once again plays off of the vintage/clean palette throughout the home.
Gloria’s favorite space is the screened-in porch that amazingly, is used year-round.
“This is the best room in the house—and to me, it’s the most valuable room in the house,” she explains. “We have thick, clear vinyl window shades [on the screens] that were developed in Florida that are meant to handle hurricane-strength winds. And with the wood-burning stove in here, we use this room year-round if the stove is going—this room is actually warmer than the rest of the house. We’ve been in here at 20 below with snow outside.”
Scattered throughout the room is a large sectional, table and chairs, reclaimed wood coffee table and vintage bar cart. There’s even a retro metal barn ladder (given to Gloria by one of her clients) with blankets neatly folded over the rungs for guests to use.
On the walls in the porch (and also used on the entire home’s exterior) is bark siding from North Carolina.
“I fell in love with maintenance free bark siding 12 years ago or so. This product is a little more expensive compared to a cedar shake. By the first time you paint or stain [this] the bark has paid for itself. It’s harvested by hand the way it was 150 years ago. Since I’ve put it on my house, two other clients have put it on theirs,” says Gloria.
Next to the screened-in porch is Gloria’s home office complete with a lake view, and outfitted with a door that was made to look like it came from an old Chicago office building. Almost all of the decorative accents in her office (and throughout the home, Gloria adds), like the vintage office cabinet she stores her blueprints in, are from Fox Lake Country Antique Mall in Oconomowoc.
Upstairs from the office is a self-contained guest suite with bedroom, bunk room and full bath for relatives and friends. The comfortable living space is also used by her sons to hang out and play video games, and has trundle beds that pull out that can sleep four. It’s a tranquil space with denim-blue walls that encourages relaxation.
On the opposite end of the home is the family’s living quarters which contains Eli and Zach’s rooms, full bath, master suite and laundry room. The boys had design input in their own rooms and their bathroom is simple and modern— perfect for low-maintenance kids.
Gloria and Doug’s master bathroom is a stunning spot that shows off Gloria’s design chops, and one that is personal to her.
“I just adore this space. The bathroom is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night, and it’s so important that you feel good here and have it be a restful, peaceful place.”
Beautiful tiled floors, a custom vanity, hand- painted mirror surrounds, farmhouse-look soaking tub, weathered wood beam and vintage sliding barn door on the shower are all thoughtful, unique touches.
In the couple’s simple bedroom are his-and-hers closets, more Fox Lake Country Antique Mall finds and doors that lead to a walk-out patio area, designed by Bret Achtenhagen’s Seasonal Services that down the road, will have a hot tub.
“We love the view from the bedroom,” says Gloria. “I love waking up every day and seeing the lake.”
This home was featured in the Lake Country: Summer 2017 issue.
For more photos of featured Lake Country homes, visit the Lake Country Gallery page.
NEI-TURNER MEDIA GROUP
400 Broad Street, Unit D
Lake Geneva, WI 53147