A Shore Thing

A new home brings one family back where they belong—right on the lake

For Tom and Suzie Wilkinson, a love of lakes runs deep. While they lived in Monroe, they traveled monthly to their home on Michigan’s  Diamond Lake, where they taught their three children to swim. Once Brendon, Abby and Katie were out of the house, Tom and Suzie decided to seek a more permanent place on the water. “Our mission was to get back to the lake,” she says.

The couple purchased a house on Lake Waubesa in 2007 and set to work on a yearlong remodeling project with the help of Rowe Design & Construction. They didn’t want to change the house’s narrow, tall structure—“You live in it vertically,” Suzie says—but knew reconfiguring the interior layout would increase both its functionality and aesthetics. Rearranging the main floor involved moving, removing and adding doors, closets and staircases as well as building a powder room. 

Yet the project with the biggest payoff is the kitchen. Originally, the room was cramped and closed off. Now it’s a warm space that opens to the living room—and its windows. “I just wanted as much view as I could get,” says Suzie, who loves to cook and entertain at home. She embellished a breakfast bar with wine labels, a creative touch that echoes her knack for adding interesting—and often lake-themed—accents throughout the home.

“It’s casual elegance,” Suzie says of her preferred style. “Obviously, I’m into antiques but I want it to be comfortable.”

In the airy living room, cozy sofas are oriented toward a stone fireplace, and a walnut Baldwin piano reveals Tom’s musical side (he also plays the guitar and banjo). Just off the room is an expansive deck offering both shady and sunny perches. 

The master bedroom also boasts lake views, particularly from a pretty sitting area. Nearby is a space Suzie calls the “grandkids’ room,” a suite that’s always ready for the couple’s eight favorite young visitors. 

When the family gets together in the summer, they can enjoy the lake on kayaks, jet skis or a Sea Ray motorboat. But Tom and Suzie appreciate their lake home in every season. 

“We have fabulous sunsets all year round,” she says

Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine.

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