Afternoon wakeboarding. Family reunions. Rosé around the firepit. It’s lake time all the time at this marine-inspired home in Minnesota—where a summer look is always in season.

By Kelly Ryan Kegans
June 22, 2020
Credit: Chad Holder

Katie Bassett is pulling trays from her cabinets on a late July afternoon when familiar voices ring through her open door. Like actors strolling onto a Nancy Meyers film set, Katie’s longtime friends walk right into her airy kitchen. And at that moment, as if cued by the director, a fleet of sailboats floats past on the lake out back. “The regatta just started! Let’s go,” Katie says. Everyone grabs snacks and drinks and heads to the shore.

Sliding into an Adirondack chair by the boathouse, Katie explains that she and her husband, Marty, had a selfish motive when they bought this house on Lake Minnetonka 10 years ago. “It was really to bribe our kids,” she jokes. “Our boys were already out of college, and to entice them to come home, we thought, ‘Let’s buy something on the lake.’”

Built in the 1970s, the house wasn’t a looker. It had dark paneling, low ceilings and weathered windows. And, oddly, high-use spaces like the kitchen faced the driveway, not the lake. No one minded. In fact, though they’d purchased it as a second home, the Bassetts eventually moved in permanently. “It just felt good to be here,” Katie says. She recalls countless birthday parties, family reunions and Fourth of July grill-outs. Sometimes they had to pitch tents to accommodate all the guests.

Summers may have been sweet, but winters proved cold and drafty. Facing huge repairs (and a lifetime of cosmetic fixes), the Bassetts changed tactics—they would tear down and build new. With the help of Peterssen/Keller Architecture, they took advantage of old pilings but shifted and opened the home’s floor plan so all key rooms would have waterfront views.

Katie, who is an interior designer, says she did face some skepticism from the family peanut gallery when the project began. “My nieces and nephews kept saying that they didn’t want it to be too fancy,” she says. Luckily, she agreed, choosing surfaces that would look good and withstand heavy use: shiplap walls, stone counters and rugged fabrics. “I kept thinking about this like camp, and wanted everything to be durable,” she explains. She also infused the home with whimsy and meaningful objects, like a canoe weathervane atop the cupola and an antique bronze dinner bell her sons gave her.

In all the transformation, Katie insisted on leaving one space, a modest screened-in boathouse, exactly as it was. She added only a patio and firepit. “Before we moved in, the boathouse was just for storage,” Katie says. “The first thing I did was move in wicker furniture and hang a chandelier and party lights.” Neighbors approved, telling her they enjoyed hearing laughter wafting over the water on late summer nights—a signal that Camp Katie was open for the season.

Credit: Chad Holder

To balance the kitchen’s light-and-bright cabinets, walls, and island, Katie incorporated stained white oak floors, gold accents and dark, richly veined soapstone for the sink, countertop and backsplash.

Credit: Chad Holder

The sink’s windows (above) slide open to the screen porch.

In choosing lighting, Katie was careful to steer clear of nautical kitsch. “I wanted the fixtures to be upscale—not too kid-ish,” she says. Gold-brushed pendants in the kitchen  pick up the gold in the barstools. A canvas-and-leather drum light over the stairs evokes the hardworking materials of a sailboat. And in the dining room, a hanging branch pendant looks like driftwood, adding beachy flair and a focal point without obstructing the view.

Credit: Chad Holder

The dining room tilts more traditional than the rest of the house, but shiplap walls and cane armchairs painted blue loosen up the formality.

Credit: Chad Holder

Katie filled the stairwell with framed vintage photographs, many from Lake Okoboji in Iowa, where she and her family have vacationed for more than 30 years.

Credit: Chad Holder

Katie (above left) and her friends enjoy sunset boat rides.

Credit: Chad Holder

Sailor stripes meet buffalo plaid on the wraparound screen porch. Casually strung cafe lights, plus a mix of antiques and thrifted finds, give the spacious hangout the timeless, collected feel of an old family lake cabin.

For consistency, Katie used rattan on both the porch and in the sunroom. She scored matching furniture sets on Craigslist and updated them with black paint.

Credit: Chad Holder

The sunroom’s hat stand, a vintage souvenir from a trip to Arizona, isn’t just for looks—Katie grabs a hat when she heads out to the lake, and she keeps extras for visitors.

Credit: Chad Holder

On the porch, a long meal table hides around the corner from the sitting area. A pass-through window to the kitchen makes it easy to clear the dishes.

The kitchen window stays open from morning ’til night, all summer long. Friends and family know to holler if they want a soda or a snack, and someone will hand it through, Katie says. The bar-height ledge echoes the counters inside; the Bassetts often use it as a buffet for snacks.

Credit: Chad Holder

Katie and her husband, Marty, catch up on the back patio with their rescue Westie, Dallas.

Credit: Chad Holder

Katie recently added a bluestone patio alongside the home’s original boathouse. The patio firepit and twinkle lights from the boathouse set the mood for relaxing with friends. “One of the things I love about this is the camp-y feel,” Katie says. To avoid trips back to the house, she serves snacks on a bar cart and tosses throw blankets over the lawn chairs for cozying up when the sun sets.

Credit: Chad Holder

After living lakeside for seven years, Katie knew that a primary goal of the new build would be orienting rooms like the kitchen, porch and sunroom to the water.

Buy Local: Shoreside Shopping

The Bassetts live in Wayzata, Minnesota, a once-touristy lake town that bustles year-round with shops and restaurants. Here are a few of Katie’s faves.

HARVEST HOME This garden center has an enchanting flower shop with an old-world feel—like a cabinet of curiosities.

SUN AND SLOPE “The best place for sporty clothing and Lake Minnetonka gifts,” Katie says.

FIVE SWANS This sunny shop is the Bassetts’ go-to for dishes, cookware and locally made food gifts.

BELLECOUR Katie likes to meet friends and clients at this French bistro and bakery, a sister biz to Minneapolis’ Spoon and Stable.

GRACE HILL A wonderful source for tabletop books and accessories, plus coastal-inspired furniture and lighting.