rustic sophistication in a...

Lakeside Getaway

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a business executive and his equestrian wife bought a rundown 1920s stone cottage on the shores of Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago, their first call was to Chicago-and Hamptons-based designer Michael Del Piero. Her signature blend of rustic and luxe was just what they had in mind.




with its monumental wood beamed ceilings, was inherently inviting, but it needed a thorough overhaul. New steel and glass openings brought in abundant light; custom plaster and stone surrounds turned fireplaces into outstanding decorative features. Oak plank floors and subtly textured plaster walls enhanced the home’s original warmth.

A new kitchen on a grand scale benefits from an expansive wall of glass leading out to a dining patio. The La Cornue Chateau range, in white with gold trim, lends a French country feel to a bank of cabinetry tucked into a broad alcove. Barstools with truffle-colored leather seats are parked at an enormous island of white marble, which also serves as an elegant dining counter. Hanging above: a pair of c.1905 brass and glass lighting fixtures from Austria.




throughout the house are a meticulously curated celebration of natural textures and materials. The designer’s keen eye for antiques and artifacts of many cultures, including wooden bowls and vessels from Africa and Nepal, lends uniqueness, while the homeowners’ collection of equestrian art and sculpture personalizes the space.




prevail in the family room, which is centered on a sculptured plaster chimneybreast. A custom sectional sits on a thick, hand-knotted wool carpet, while contemporary leather armchairs sidle up to a round oak coffee table.




dark corners of the home are moody by design, in striking counterpoint to the white walls elsewhere. A patinated wood monk’s chest with antique brass hardware sits beneath a brooding seascape by American 20th center painter John William Guerin. The bleached ram’s skull stands out in stark contrast.




the homeowners call “the equestrian room” is an art-filled repository of carefully considered antiques, including a 17th century Spanish monastery table, a late 19th century Biedermeier chair, blue-and-white Chinese ceramics and a Persian carpet. The U-shaped stools, of dark, hand-finished aluminum and cushioned with sheepskin, are Del Piero’s own design.




evidence of the collector’s eye abounds in the writing room, where an antique Norwegian folk-art chair accompanies an heirloom desk beloved by the homeowners, and in the living room, where a 1940s leather chair from Mexico sits upon a custom sisal and leather rug by Ashe + Leandro.





balusters line the staircase leading to the house’s upper level. The hand-chiseled fireplace surround was locally quarried of Wisconsin limestone.




sculptural fireplace is just one highlight in a bedroom filled with intriguing juxtapositions, from a rustic antler chandelier and formal floor-to-ceiling drapes to a metal bedstead and a seriously shaggy rug.




from the nearest major urban center, this lakeside getaway manages to capture big-city sophistication while sacrificing not an iota of rustic charm — a magic act, indeed.



Design: Michael Del Piero

Photography: Richard Powers



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