To be interested in lake house decor, you would assume you need a lake house, right? Well, not necessarily. Lake House decor is all about two things: prioritizing beautiful views from your windows and creating an interior scheme that complements those views.
This can be applied to homes of all modern interior styles where there is something wonderful about the outdoors beyond the four walls of your home. That could be the wonders of Mother Nature, or just a beautiful garden that you worked hard on.
There is also a specific vernacular that comes to mind when people envision life in a lake house, and it is quite possible to replicate this style at home to create that wild vibe of a weekend getaway, without the city to leave.
Here are some of our favorite examples of lake home decor to inspire you, whatever the reason you want to create a lake home for yourself.
Lake house decor inspiration from real spaces
Before we start looking at lake house decor, it is impossible to overlook the role that architecture plays in defining good lake house design.
“The contemporary waterfront home has floor-to-ceiling windows,” says Cathy Purple Cherry, director and founder of Maryland-based Purple Cherry Architects (opens in new tab). “while the trick to creating a modern home while still retaining the language or vernacular of a lake house is to overwhelm the living room ceiling.”
“If you get the chance to work on a larger, more private piece of land, or a property with incredible views – be it water, mountains or fields – there is a strong trend to have a clear view through creating the house, allowing the magnificent view to be seen immediately upon entering,’ she continues. “Front doors in a modern waterfront home are no longer solid and are no longer designed to provide privacy to the living spaces within. Today, these doors are made entirely of glass or are pivot doors with glass panels that emphasize and frame the breathtaking view just beyond.’
There’s no question that this architecture does much of the heavy lifting for lakeside homes, but how can your decor complement this kind of design? Here are 7 ideas from some of our favorite lakeside spaces.
1. Let the points of view command attention
For the quintessential lake house look, it’s all about choosing furnishings and accessories that emphasize the landscape, not obscure it. “When it comes to waterfront properties, it’s all about framing the view,” says Cathy Purple Cherry. “Use the glass in the door or window to frame the view beyond, whether that view leads to a bucolic tranquil lake or seven mountain ranges in the distance. it is the most powerful image.’
This Scandi-inspired lakefront home in Washington State by Lisa Staton Design (opens in new tab) is the perfect example. The living room features low-slung furniture, with strong linear shapes that mimic the straight lines of both the windows and the horizon line. The trees behind the windows become the dominant feature of the space, and rightly so.
Remember to create interest indoors too, for when you look away from the view and at night. This space is a textural treat, with wood, textured textiles, and even a tactile concrete fireplace adding to the mix.
2. Bring the outdoors in
Bringing the outdoors in is easier in a room with large windows overlooking the landscape, but you can also add to this through your interior design. “I love when lakeside homes have a deep relationship with nature and there’s a seamless feeling between inside and out,” says interior designer and author, Anne Hepfer (opens in new tab). “When designing these spaces, I’m influenced by the colors at different times of day and season, light and texture, and organic materials,” she explains.
“A current trend is to use reclaimed beams—fake or real—in the great room of a contemporary waterfront home, and to choose rustic flooring with tremendous character,” suggests Cathy Purple Cherry. “These elements all help bring the outside elements in.”
3. Mix rustic and modern
Lakeside homes have a certain rustic charm, but that shouldn’t limit your design choices. Mixing styles can result in eye-catching, exciting design, like this modern lakeside home in New York created by OAD Interiors (opens in new tab).
“Our goal was to mix the old with the new and keep many of the original details,” explains interior designer and founder of OAD Interiors, Melissa Anderson. “The fireplace wall of natural stone quarried from the Shawangunk Ridge and the dining floors salvaged from an old French cathedral, for example, have been preserved and the original entrance door has been refinished.”
However modern you decide to go, it pays to acknowledge a home’s surroundings. This vignette captures the living room idea perfectly, featuring contemporary interiors and a modern bubble sofa with a rustic raw wood coffee table that hints at the home’s lakeside location.
4. Create a contrast
If simple, neutral, and understated isn’t your style, it doesn’t have to be the style of your lake home. Take this colorful lakeside home from Sabrina Albanese (opens in new tab) on Lake Simcoe in southern Ontario as inspiration for creating a bolder look that still feels right at home in a waterfront home.
Shades of blue and natural materials such as reeds and burlap have been used throughout the house, creating a continuous line that connects the plan to the lake that lies just beyond the windows.
All in all, it’s a space with a relatively natural palette, but that’s just a notch or two in places, introducing additional colors, textures, and finishes that also give this design a modern, luxurious feel.
5. Avoid lakeside clichés
Divorcing a waterfront theme for a lake house will keep it from becoming a cliche — after all, decorating a lake house doesn’t just mean decorating with ephemeral craft. Plus, there are other references you can draw from that can help you build a schedule that doesn’t feel tired.
This design by AW Architects (opens in new tab) in New Zealand draws on design influences from the clusters of farm buildings found throughout the area. This idea informs both the external materials of the house and the internal design.
Here, industrial influences from the living room, from the slab floor and patinated steel fittings to the coffee table on pallets, made this a lakeside design that was far from the expected.
6. Go for an outdoor-indoor atmosphere
Spaces that overlook the water fit perfectly with an indoor-outdoor style. This conservatory idea from Purple Cherry Architects, for example, feels like it could just as easily be an outdoor space as a three-season room thanks to its mix of outdoor furniture, which is practical for such a sun-drenched space, and its soft furnishings and fireplace.
With swinging lights overhead, you can imagine what a magical space this is to inhabit in the evening, when the sun is also down.
8. Create texture with wooden plank walls
When it comes to creating texture and character, you won’t do better than by using the right wallcovering ideas.
“Wood plank walls are an expense, but they give a room an authentic feel rather than drywall,” says interior designer Anne Hepfer. Horizontal painted paneling can give your lake house the New England style look, while exposed, character wood is more suited to the wilder log cabin look.
What colors match the decor of the lake house?
If you’re looking for a color palette for your home that enhances your waterfront view, look to colors inspired by nature. Soft blues and greens are easy choices, but can be a little too safe. Consider adding an unexpected contrasting color that goes with blue or green to add some dimension.
Neutral colors, such as gray and taupe, along with off-white, always go well together and don’t distract too much from the outside view. However, don’t be afraid of a strong black tint, especially on windows. “I still like black windows,” says Anne Hepfer, “because they frame a view and provide contrast.”