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Artful Living | The Sitting Room Studio Reimagines a Sophisticated Lakeside Manor

Photography by Spacecrafting

When a unique waterfront estate situated on one of Lake Minnetonka’s most desired bays became available, empty nesters looking to downsize knew it was the perfect property for them. Originally built by Robert Craig Homes in 2014, the residence was designed in Irish cottage style and had the gracious charm of a decades-old house. It exudes an almost storybook charm thanks to a curated combination of materials, including stone walls and arches, plaster walls, oak lintels, arched French doors, and wide-planked, wire-brushed European white oak floors. While the rooms within the 4,500-square-foot home were comfortably sized, they were intentionally not enormous and were built with discerning attention to detail.

The transition to a new home inspired the family to start fresh. They parted ways with their former furnishings, only keeping a few pieces of treasured art. “The homeowners didn’t rush into making changes initially,” says Kate Regan, founder and design director of The Sitting Room Studio. “They lived in the home, carefully observing how each room functioned and felt.” She was initially approached to provide new lighting and furnishings; however, the project’s scope grew as the clients spent more time in the abode.

Artful Living | The Sitting Room Studio Reimagines a Sophisticated Lakeside Manor

The overall flow of the interiors worked well and didn’t need improvement. Still, the owners desired a style that felt tailored and comfortable yet remained elegant, with a softer palette to bring light and serenity to the home. Working with the original homebuilder as well as key artisan Darril Otto ensured that any edits kept a continuity that felt authentic to the original design. The changes were cosmetic in nature, with no square footage added and no walls coming down (though a new wine room off the foyer borrowed space from the primary suite closet).

A favorite aspect of the original design are the many charming alcoves. Each of these niches was deliberately furnished and accessorized. Regan took advantage of the usable space by adding a custom entryway cabinet, a landing vignette in the foyer and a secondary office nook at the top of the stairs. Additional light fixtures and lamps bring a warm, quaint quality to each alcove, providing definition and establishing an intimate feel.

Artful Living | The Sitting Room Studio Reimagines a Sophisticated Lakeside Manor

On Regan’s initial walk-through with the client, it was clear that different lighting would be transformative. The original selections leaned heavily into the old Irish cottage theme, leaving the rooms feeling dark and moody. Not only would new lighting update the overall aesthetic, it would also provide a much-needed contrast to the matte finishes of the natural materials.

Take, for instance, the dining room. “I knew I wanted to use crystal in this room,” Regan recalls, “to bring in formality and elegance primed for entertaining. I envisioned dinner parties in the late summer with the lake breeze coming in through the open French doors.” To complete the dining room transformation, a rustic buffet — with its dark cerused finish, open shelves and chicken-wire door accents — was replaced with a more refined built-in. The newly designed piece provides ample serving space between two cabinets with softly arched doors painted and glazed to match the dining and living room French doors. A new icemaker and wine dispensers are cleverly concealed behind pocket doors for added functionality.

Artful Living | The Sitting Room Studio Reimagines a Sophisticated Lakeside Manor

The kitchen update was just as extensive. All new appliances were selected, the cabinetry was refinished and the dark granite countertops were replaced with Taj Mahal quartzite. Regan simplified the look by painting the dark cerused cabinets a soft gray and affixing new hardware. The team also switched up the island style and topped it with a leathered, concrete-looking quartz. “We refinished the hood using the same plaster as the walls,” she shares. “These edits allowed us to achieve our goal of simplifying the finishes and creating a feeling of calm.”

Continuing with this approach, furnishings were carefully curated to balance a new traditional sensibility with an Old World aesthetic. To embody this, Regan opted for a palette of soft creams, blues and camels, a classic color combination that is carried throughout the living spaces and bedrooms. She layered in textures like cashmere, mohair, wool and Belgian linen to lend a feeling of understated sophistication. For the finishing touches, she incorporated vintage oil paintings, sepia photography and unique accessories. In the end, The Sitting Room Studio team touched every room, and to great effect. New furnishings and finishes gave the clients the refined style they sought while preserving the character that initially drew them to this special home. 

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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