Building a custom home is both exhilarating and challenging. When the imagination has free reign, the result is often something fantastic that nobody could have anticipated, such as making a new house have an old-fashioned feel.
This is what happened when Ryan and Kristin Schultz built their home on Beaver Lake. They started with an example of what they wanted in an existing custom-built home and reproduced it, then added their own personal touches to the interior. According to Ryan, he and Kristin knew exactly what they wanted: a perfectly orchestrated Coastal-style home. Something new that looks old, something you might find on the shores of Eastern Long Island.
“The most important thing to us was a brand new home that looks like it’s been there for 80 years,” he said. “We wanted it to look and feel like it belongs on a lake.” Of course, the setting was of utmost importance. The couple knew they wanted to be on Beaver Lake, a gorgeous spring-fed lake with a limestone base and crystal-clear waters. “It has a turquoise/emerald blue hue to it,” Ryan said.
The Schultzes found a two-acre lot with 150 feet of lakefront land. The property already had an existing house that they had to demolish in order to begin anew. Built in 2018, the Schultzes’ new home has a total main living area of 6,200 feet, plus detached garage, and boat house. It sits in the village of Chenequa; a portion of the lake community that is split between Beaver Lake and Merton. The lot is built on a slope, and the lowest level is about 10 feet above the water line.
“We wanted to be above water, but not high up on a bluff,” Kristin explained. In the end, they found the perfect compromise: a two-story home with an exposed lower level.
The home’s exterior is covered in cedar shingles with sloping lines and a vintage Hamptons look. The window and transom design, roof dormers, split-faced field stone foundation, and the basket woven shingles are reminiscent of classic construction means and methods, making the home’s scale and proportions period-correct. Ryan and Kristin wanted implicit attention to detail, which is apparent in every design element, from the intricate built-in woodworking and coffered ceilings, to the wainscoting and all-around coastal vibe. And of course, the Schultzes made sure their house would continue to serve them down the road, when they included a main-floor primary bedroom suite.
In addition to the primary bedroom, the first floor alone boasts an open concept kitchen, dining room, great room area, butler’s pantry, bar, and an office. Three natural stone fireplaces add warmth to Ryan’s office, sunroom, and great room. Upstairs is a guest suite and bedrooms for children, friends, and family. And on the lower level? A play area, complete with a large bar, a game room, a theater-style movie viewing area—and yet another great room. A full exercise room and golf simulator round out the home’s amenity package.
“We’re very proud of it and the team we worked with.”
– Ryan Schultz, homeowner
How it All Came Together
Through a referral, the Schultzes found Deep River Partners, an architectural and interior design firm located in the Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee’s creative hub. According to CEO/Founder Richard Sherer, “We specialize in single-family residential architecture and interior design for the finely-appointed home.”
That includes a staff of award-winning professionals, and what Richard refers to as a ‘holistic design approach.’
Deep River acts as an advisor. The firm collects the data, does the bidding, and makes recommendations to their clients. They spoke with the Schultzes in order to gain a good understanding of who they were and what they wanted. Then they came up with a plan—one which included a virtual reality movie that allowed the couple to ‘fly’ through the rooms, seeing above and below, side-to-side views.
Deep River then showed the Schultzes a variety of surveys. They considered slopes, grades, trees, and water, then put it all together. “We specialize in making opportunities out of challenging properties. You need to think about accommodating owners, guests and even pets,” Richard explained. And he should know, since Deep River has gone through this process many times over the past 20 years in many popular locations from Telluride to Charleston’s Rainbow Row.
The Finishing Touches
As for the interior, the goal according to Natalie Erickson, Interior Designer (ASID), was to create a space that reflected the Schultzes’ style and personality. A place that felt like home.
In order to make that happen, Natalie organized an interior meeting to delve into each room and discuss what was needed. For the Schultzes, this included the blue and white color scheme of a classic lake house, tongue and groove ceilings and beams, and painted millwork to compliment the home’s exterior. “We did a lot of polished nickel,” Natalie said, “Then in some rooms, we did bronze. We like to mix metals so that all of the finishes vary. We used bronze in the kitchen to make it more casual.” The end result was a flexible plan—one that would be as accommodating for everyday life with children as it would be for entertaining adults.
“It was an involved process and I’m pleased with the end results,” Ryan said. “We’re very proud of it and the team we worked with.” Looking at the result of their efforts, it’s easy to see why.