Since the early 1800s, Southern Wisconsin has been a place for families to retreat to, no matter the season. In the spring and summer they come for the fantastic lake life, in the fall for the bright foliage and the crunch of leaves underfoot, and in the winter, to celebrate enchanting snow-covered holidays. We spoke to three families about how they settled in Powers Lake, Silver Lake, and Lake Mary of the Twin Lakes area, and the significance that their homes hold in their lives.
Powers Lake: A Home for All Seasons
For Paul and Lynette McNaughton, the story of their home on Powers Lake began in the early 1980s when their children, Paul Jr. and Kelly, were young. At the time, they owned a home on Lauderdale Lakes, and the kids loved growing up on the water where they could boat, swim and fish to their heart’s content. Every weekend, as long as the weather cooperated, they headed north from the Chicago area to their Wisconsin lake house. Once Paul Jr. and Kelly started high school, the lake house was sold, and the family moved on with their busy lives.
Time for a New Lake Home
Now that the family has grown, and the “kids” have children of their own, Paul and Lynette decided to start searching for land to build a new weekend home on the water. They soon came upon a lot in an area previously known as Honey Bear Farm, a shopping and dining destination, which Lynette fondly remembered visiting as a child. The large lot had great lakeside views and plenty of room to create a comfortable and inviting space for their family.
From their main home in the western suburbs of Chicago, Powers Lake was the perfect proximity for a weekend retreat. “It is a short drive, but the property feels as if we are far away from it all,” Lynette explains. “We didn’t want to have the home be more than two hours away, so we could use it frequently without having a lot of travel time.” Another appeal of the area was the charm and beauty of Powers Lake. “The water clarity is fantastic and it’s the perfect spot to continue our family tradition of being on the water [and] enjoying boating, skiing, fishing and swimming!” she adds. Having the home close to dining and shopping, as well as places for out of town guests to stay, made for the ideal location.
A Family Affair
Building the lake home was an exciting endeavor for the McNaughton family. With years of experience in property development and interior design, the family bounced ideas around to capture the key elements they wanted to include in the design. The three-story home boasts many bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, but the theater room has become the favorite of kids. “[The architecture of the home] allowed us to have spacious rooms,” Lynette says. “Our kitchen and family room is a great size so the family can be cooking and interacting with others at the same time.”
Another popular room and a favorite of the grandkids is the “dormitory,” which includes eight beds set in bunk beds and works beautifully when a house full of family and friends are over.
When the weather is nice, the family spends time on the deck off of the kitchen, which has great views of the lake. “We all love the style. The large front porch, and the deck off the second-floor family room have fantastic views, which provide great viewing for the Fourth of July festivities or to enjoy a quiet drink outside,” Lynette notes.
The home made its debut on Thanksgiving a couple of years ago and is now the family destination for holidays or lake weekends. The McNaughtons couldn’t be more pleased with their family haven. Kelly even had her wedding there, surrounded by family and friends.
Lynette sums up the home simply: “This [place] brings family and friends together.”
Twin Lakes/Lake Mary: A Waterskiing Legacy
Michele and Peter Bokos loved spending time at the Nippersink Resort in the mid-1980s, back when it was “much like the movie Dirty Dancing,” Michele jokes. After enjoying so much fun in the area, the Bokos family decided to begin the search for a summer home. With their primary residence in Hinsdale, Illinois, the 90-minute drive to Twin Lakes was perfectly situated for weekend escapes. At the time, Michele and Peter were both busy professionals, so convenience was key. They ended up finding the most noticeable landmark on Lake Mary, the A-frame at the top of the hill, which is built on a cliff and is the highest point in Kenosha County.
Embracing the New Lake Home
“Everyone knows our house, and the many balconies create a happy, homey feel,” Michelle explains. “We also definitely have the best view of the lake.” While an A-Frame-style home does not offer much wall space, it makes up for that with its lovely nautical chalet- style appeal.
“It’s airy and bright and you are fully absorbed as all you see is sunlight and lake,” Michele shares. While the spot at the “summit” and the elevation do not create any lawn space, there is still plenty of beautiful landscaping to be enjoyed by both the family and all that pass by on the water. The Bokos family notes that their home, perched on the cliff and nestled in the trees, is fondly known as The Treehouse. For a final, personal touch, they chose to paint the home a Mediterranean blue to help it stand out even more, and also a nod to the family’s Greek heritage.
Family Fun on the Water
Water skiing, boating and sailing have all become family traditions since the Bokos family first purchased the home in the mid-1980s. With four children and now five grandchildren, the kids now range in age from their mid-40s to their early teens. Everyone in the family water skis. In fact, four members even participate in the area’s well-known Aquanuts, providing entertainment to the community of Twin Lakes, as well as Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois communities with both waterski and stage shows.
In addition to watching her family have fun on the water, Michele shares that, “the most important part of being at this home has been building memories, traditions, and lifelong relationships.”
Silver Lake: Timber frame perfection
Back when they lived in Chicago, John and Nikki Fernandez had a second home in Michigan, which they loved. But when they moved to the North Shore, it just became too far. They started to consider Wisconsin for their family getaway spot. “We loved it, but didn’t know much about it,” says John. “Each weekend we started to travel to different locations. As busy professionals, we were looking for a shorter commute than Michigan.”
Discovering different spots and fun areas became a weekend ritual that they looked forward to as a family. They found Wisconsin to have a different culture than their home on Lake Michigan. “We loved that each small lake had its own personality and history,” Nikki explains.
Time for a New Lake Home
The Fernandez’ investigated every lake within close range of their home in Winnetka, Illinois. They looked at Lake Delavan and Geneva Lake and were not even considering any other locations. “We were driving home in a downpour and spotted a fluorescent sign with an arrow that said, “Lot for Sale – Silver Lake,” John remembers.
They stopped and pulled the sign off of the tree it was nailed to and called the phone number. In the true spirit of the small world we live in, the owner was a patient of one on John’s partners in his medical practice. “We placed an offer and purchased the lot on a gentleman’s handshake, without a contract,” said John. To this day, John and Nikki are friends with the landowner who sold them the land.
Timber Frame Vision
When John began to research timber frame home construction, he saw that most homes in Wisconsin had a very dark log cabin aesthetic, which was not what they intended for the family home on Silver Lake. They wanted a clean, relaxing, peaceful aesthetic. The timber frame construction provides for vaulted ceilings and due to the support of the beams, fewer walls are required. John sketched out his plan and then found an architect specializing in timber frame homes to create the vision. “John is the mastermind of this project,” shares Nikki proudly.
John and Nikki found the right builder in John Matustik, President and Owner of Matustik Builders. When John first met with the Fernandez family, the home was just an idea. “Our goal was to design a timber frame home that exemplifies their lifestyle, while also enhancing the natural beauty of the site and taking advantage of the wonderful views of Silver Lake,” Matustik says. “Working with timber framing not only provided for an open concept, but also created dramatic visual elements which complimented both the aesthetic they sought as well as their ultimate vision.”
Now that John, Nikki and their three boys are here spending time in their home, they absolutely love Wisconsin and their decision to build a timber frame home. The home’s construction allowed the focus of the interior to create maximum lake views. “Working with John and Nikki reminds me that the building process is very rewarding. It’s so wonderful to come back and visit with them and see how much they are enjoying this home we created together,” notes Matustik.
One major advantage of this type of home is that it didn’t require interior walls for support, which would have cut up the space. “By essentially creating a Viking cathedral, we decided upon a Danish/Swedish style for the home with clean lines and simple furnishings,” John says. Essentially, with the Fernandez home, form follows function and creates the vision they wanted all along.
Family Comes First
While the family loves the space, “Nothing really matters here other than our family creating memories,” Nikki confides. The boys wakeboard, tube and enjoy the summer weekends while they are able to relax. John and Nikki spend much of their time as very busy health care professionals in Chicago, so spending time on the weekends at the lake allows them to decompress and fully recharge. The Dr. Seuss quote engraved on the swing in the backyard says it all: Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
Each of these three homes sport different features, yet they all have something in common: they were chosen in the spirit of a family-centric lifestyle. Each family may live near a different body of water, but they all agree on one thing: home is where memories are created.
By Ann Kottler
Photography By Matt Haas and Aliza Baran