Think about your favorite color. How does it make you feel? What energies does it evoke? These were the thought-provoking questions interior designer Kate Regan posed to Tom and Elizabeth Nicol as they set about creating their dream lake home. Elizabeth immediately thought of a beautiful coral necklace she found on vacation in Italy. “That exact shade set a personal, inviting tone,” says Regan, owner of the Sitting Room — not only for the design of the home, but for the collaboration of crafting it, highlighting strong partnerships that built upon Streeter’s unique capability to go custom and classic with a modern cottage in the Deephaven neighborhood of Lake Minnetonka.
“The Nicols are passionate entertainers, so the whole home is designed to cater to that passion,” notes Streeter Project Director Brent Pickett. The family had outgrown their previous house and wanted a space centered around entertaining, with design elements that spoke to their penchant for lake life. “A year-round connection to the outdoors was one of our top priorities,” Elizabeth explains. This 6,900-square-foot cottage may appear quintessential in its cedar shake roof and siding, painted shiplap, and a structural detail that’s reminiscent of a cupola — but there’s a party behind that white picket fence.
What feels like a cozy two-story from the front is actually a full three-story from the lake, with the entire lower level dedicated to entertaining. A 23-foot bi-folding Centor glass door opens completely, giving uninterrupted access to the lower level from the backyard, pool and hot tub deck. The accordion-like glass panels fold into themselves, creating a natural flow into the entertaining space, where guests are greeted by a large walnut bar with brass accents — an homage to the Nicols’ love of Chris-Craft wooden boats.
And although clear sightlines and a seamless indoor/outdoor transition are master strokes of Streeter, this property is a testament to the builder’s ability to take on transitional, timeless design. “This home is custom to the nth degree,” Pickett notes. “It was an iterative process until the very last day of the project.”
He adds that the collaboration between Streeter, Swan Architecture, the Sitting Room, and landscapers Keenan & Sveiven, along with the Nicols themselves, made it easy to bring forward new ideas at any point during the process. “Every partner has such an eye for design,” he emphasizes. “And with the Streeter offices just down the road from the cottage, we were able to meet onsite at a moment’s notice to share ideas.”
One of those ideas was salvaging a well-kept secret buried beneath the original house. A massive pocket door disguised as a bookshelf leads a few steps down into a cavernous space. Originally a gun room, the Nicols converted it into a sunken wine cellar and game room while retaining its unique character. “We feel blessed with the complement of designers who teamed up to create this exquisite space,” Elizabeth says. Above the cellar, the lower level hallway is illuminated by a warm pink glow — a Himalayan salt wall framed in LED lighting that is just as much a work of art as it is a therapeutic element of the sauna. Guests can also unwind in the steam shower, yoga studio or golf simulator room.
The main level hosts the master suite and a more formal living room that harkens to a classic, transitional style focused around a François & Co. fireplace with custom wood treatments and plasterwork by Darril Otto. In the kitchen and dining room, the coral color palette seriously comes into play. The most dominant use is the leather dining chairs, which don a welcoming shade that invites guests to grab a seat and stay awhile. Coral accents are peppered throughout the abode, particularly in the mudroom, as well as the artwork. And upstairs on the third story, three bedrooms and bathrooms provide plenty of space for the Nicols’ daughter and guests.
“Coral evokes a sense of energy in this sophisticated, classic home,” Regan explains. “We wanted to work with a classic nautical palette featuring white and navy, plus a complementary color. There’s a nod to the nautical vibe without being overly thematic.” Her Excelsior-based design firm naturally lends itself to that classic lake style.
Integrated smart technology brings this Streeter-crafted cottage into the 21st century. Voice control is featured throughout the house — “You can literally talk to the walls,” jokes Pickett — letting the Nicols control temperature, music and more by simply speaking. Plus television projectors are hidden in the recessed ceiling cavities. The team incorporated these cutting-edge elements into the abode without creating an overly modern aesthetic.
“The Nicols’ personalities just shine,” concludes Andrea Swan, AIA, principal of Swan Architecture. “It was easy to reflect that in their home because of how collaborative they were. This home is a true reflection of their lifestyle and personal tastes.”