By Shayna Mace | Photography by Shanna Wolf
With lake real estate, it’s all about timing. In 2008, Nancy and Joe Fenton drove up from their home in Mundelein, Illinois to attend the Parade of Homes and saw a home on Delavan Lake that caught their eye. Even though it was at the height of the Great Recession, the price was still out of their reach so they decided to wait—but found out the home sold that year in October.
So, they went back to the drawing board, keeping an eye out for other homes on Delavan Lake. (The couple kept a boat at Lake Lawn Resort’s marina so they came up frequently.) Then in 2011, one popped up, so the couple snapped it up and bought it in December.
Now that they had their weekend home set, they moved on to another goal: finding an income property to buy and rent out to guests. In 2015, they scouted one right down the street from their weekend home, and closed on it in August 2015. The roughly 1,600-square-foot “McDonald’s house” as the couple jokingly called it, had mustard yellow siding and red trim. It had potential—but the Fentons knew they had to do some work on it in order to make it a more appealing rental.
The first order of business was to enlarge the home’s footprint and add square footage, plus a two-car garage. (A garage particularly is a prized commodity on the lake, notes Nancy.) The couple hired Cook Construction out of Delavan to take the home down to the studs in August 2016. The company added on an entire living room and wet bar area off of the front of the home and the garage underneath. The room addition tacked on an extra 1,000 square feet of living space. They reconfigured the second floor to move the kitchen into the old living room and convert the old galley kitchen into a large bathroom for the guest bedrooms.
In July 2017, construction concluded, and Nancy set to work on outfitting the home to make it welcoming for guests. Her first stop was Brick & Mortar Home, because Brick & Mortar had also helped decorate her lake home down the road. “I would go in there and we did a lot of things [with them] in our other house. [Our house] was pretty turnkey, but also not our style. I basically went in there a few times a month, and have been going there for about nine years,” explains Nancy.
Amber Cook, Brick & Mortar’s manager, buyer and designer, happily helped Nancy with her project, since they had already worked closely together before. (And, coincidentally, Amber’s husband, Brian, was the general contractor of the Fenton’s home, unbeknownst to Nancy until after construction had started.)
“I just wanted the home to look lake-y,” says Nancy. “I didn’t want it be formal; I wanted it to be comfortable.”
“When Nancy came to us, we wanted to provide the clean look [that she wanted], that was also low-maintenance and durable,” echoes Cook.
That meant outfitting the entire home in dark wood-look vinyl plank flooring from Four Seasons Flooring to withstand water, scratches and wear and tear. In the kitchen, bathrooms and wet bar, quartz countertops from Kitchen & Bath Design Works provide not only style, but superior durability for years to come. The custom upholstered living room furniture is covered with Sunbrella fabric, which is easy to clean and can even be bleached, if needed.
“Choosing the fabrics were really important, and we based that off of the fact that the Fentons won’t always be here, so we wanted them to be low maintenance and easy to clean but still have a nice, chic look,” says Cook.
The light-drenched, spacious kitchen provides plenty of room for a group with the 10-by-4-foot quartz-topped island with seating on cheerful blue chairs for five people. The custom cabinets (also by Kitchen & Bath Design Works) are in an eye-pleasing white, and nautical-inspired pendant lamps from Brick & Mortar reinforce you’re on lake time here. A quartz-topped buffet tucked along the wall lends even more storage for place settings and kitchen essentials.
When visitors step down the hallway from the kitchen, a wet bar with copious storage flanks the back wall and the lake view greets them to the right. The open, airy living room with vaulted 20-foot ceilings and windows on all sides gives a gorgeous view of Delavan Lake—and is the perfect place to sit and relax with friends and eat on the 10-person dining table, perched right in front of the windows. Nancy made sure to pick bench seating to accommodate kids or adults, and red and white lanterns and candles in the center add a lake touch. A vinyl floorcloth under the table not only provides protection from spills but adds a dash of style to the room, too.
Adjacent to the table is the homey sitting area with the aforementioned Sunbrella-covered furnishings. The couches and chair tie in nicely to the whole home’s red, white and blue idea which is deliberate: “Red, white and blue is easy, and when I have a theme, it’s better and makes it flow!” remarks Nancy. A sturdy jute rug pulls the room together.
With the aim of making guests comfortable, each bedroom is also equipped in style, too. The master bedroom tucked into the back of the house (with a lake view and deck off of it) has a tray ceiling painted with Benjamin Moore’s Stormy Sky, a deep gray, to break up the gray walls and add coziness, says Cook.
“Most of the other rooms are cottage-y, but we wanted to do something different in here. So we did the navy ceiling and had the special low headboard made that fits under the window. Then we warmed it up with wood tones to bring it all together,” says Cook.
Touches of industrial style are seen in the sconces next to the bed, which juxtaposes pleasingly with the tropical-themed bedding. The adjacent master bathroom has a large sink with two faucets and a soothing gray and white palette.
The other two upstairs bedrooms offer similarly comfortable surroundings. The fun bunk room was originally painted white, but Fenton and Cook decided to paint it Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy because the white walls and bunk beds were too much white—and the moody blue broke it up more. In a nod to classic American style, the gingham bedding is the perfect complement. And Nancy loves the caged nautical lights in each bed.
In the home’s lower level, a comfortable TV room with a custom sectional is perfect for lounging or playing board games in. Another bedroom is tucked in the corner of the house equipped with two gray bunk beds and gingham bedding, for more guest accommodations. In total, the home sleeps 12 people.
Surrounding the house is landscape and patio work done by Tom Good of Golden Tree & Landscape, which complements the home’s dark gray siding (no more McDonald’s house here!) with white trim. The large upper-level deck offers enviable views of the lake’s calming waters, something Nancy enjoys year-round in their weekend home, too.
“I hope everyone that rents the house will enjoy the lake as much as we do,” says Nancy.
Here’s where to go locally to get similar pieces for your own summertime oasis.
This home was featured in the Lake Geneva: Summer 2018 issue. For more photos of featured Lake Geneva homes, visit the Lake Geneva Gallery page.
The Lakeshore Living publications are published by Nei-Turner Media Group, a full-service agency located in Lake Geneva, WI. Our four publications cover the picturesque lake communities of Lake Geneva, Madison, Lake Country and Northwoods.
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