Designs on Water
The social heartbeat of a home on water beats strong. Guests arrive in all ages and sizes for the day, the weekends or weeks on end, equipped flip-flops and fishing rods, novels and noise, ready for respite and rides around the lake. A waterfront residence with anything less than a meticulously designed spine would eventually buckle under life lived so large.
On the following pages, several Michigan-based architects who appreciate the divergent rhythms and nuances of lakefront living share personal perspectives about crafting the ideal shoreline haven – and why nothing beats living in one.
KEVIN L AKEY
AZD ASSOCIATES INC., BIRMINGHAM
Lifestyle: Waterfront living means a lot more outdoor living, and we always include a rear foyer on the lake side to accommodate people who come in with wet suits an towels; homeowners are more frequently requesting outdoor kitchens and expanded outdoor living spaces for entertaining as well. We also manage the particulars of lakefront living – wet suits, wake boards, inner tubes – with big utility rooms, changing areas, outdoor showers and other amenities.
View: Glass-partitioned walkways can become see-though bridges that provide dramatic views into a lower level. Curved glass panels can replace traditional balusters in circular staircases. Commercial metal frames are half the size of residential options, and we used them on many of out more contemporary homes; three stories of glass on waterfront walls aren’t uncommon in our designs. We’re also doing more NanaWall glass garage doors – 24ft wide that roll open – and a lot of retractable doors and walls indoors so that rooms away from the water still enjoy a view. Vanishing Screens are wider than a two-stall garage and really allow you to maximize waterfront ambiance.
Site considerations: A peninsula shaped lot and close proximity to water can mean that the Mediterranean-style residence you envisioned could work better as a more flexible, soft contemporary that features natural light, spacious multi-purpose rooms and an open floor plan. On narrow lakefront lots, we always maximize the width by building tall; we’ve had to stilt some homes over some water-sensitive areas. Or, if the site allows, we design homes long and shallow so more rooms allow water views.
Unique Design Elements: Nature is our co-designer, whether a home is contemporary, traditional or a blend of new ideas and styles. Fine interior detailing that incorporates state-of-the-art technology is hallmark, along with extensive use of glass; ultimately, good architecture is about proportion, light and originality. CAD software allows us to explore many alternatives. Innovation doesn’t have to be expensive- being able to adjust your perspective and view a high proposed project creatively can lead to highly successful solutions.
Enduring materials: concrete tiles, stone, brick and composite decking materials, along with commercial window frames, are becoming more mainstream.
Environmental awareness: Low-E insulated glass is a must in homes with expansive windows, and hydronic heating is chosen more frequently as an efficient way to warm floors.