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Omaha Magazine

The Unexpected Lake House: Stucco, Spine Design Among Unique Design Elements

Oct 29, 2020 08:54AM ● By Houston Wiltsey
exterior of home, double wood doors

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The average lake house is not known for its inspired design. Most structures are simple and a bit boring, as their occupants are more concerned with location and views than exterior aesthetics. It’s for this reason that the Wineberry estate (named for the home’s unusual window cladding color) from Cramer Kreski Designs is so special. The residence, located on a private lake in western Douglas County, Nebraska, has an attention to detail that’s not often seen in waterside residences. 

The home, which has three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, and 5,800 finished square feet, was built by DK Construction.

“What was great for us is that when the clients came to us to design it roughly 15 years ago, they didn’t have a predetermined idea of what they wanted,” said Joe Kreski, one half of the namesake Omaha-based residential architecture firm that designed the home. Instead, both parties decided to concentrate on the building materials and let those dictate the home’s design. 

 “We focused on incorporating as many natural materials as possible,” Kreski said. For the final plan, they settled on a mix of ipe—the densest of Brazilian hardwoods known for its exotic beauty, durability, and resistance to weather—along with stucco, copper, cedar, and naturally harvested stone.  

Kreski wanted that organic feel to extend to the entire house. 

The home’s design was inspired by the work of California-based architect Steven Ehrlich, whose modern houses are known for their large windows and incorporation of natural light. Constructed around a central spine from which rooms branch off, the home has an expansive floor plan with the farthest wings splaying northeast and southeast to capture maximum views of the lake.

“We placed the windows in the corners of the home to give it a panoramic feel and make it easier for people to take in the beautiful surroundings,” Kreski said. It’s this focus on natural lighting that gives the home its unique character. “It just has so many different feelings,” he continued. “Every day could give you a new perspective depending on what room you’re in, at what time, and what the weather is like.”

Kreski said these features give the home a style that is difficult to classify.

“If you were going to pin me to the wall, I’d have to say rural transitional,” he said. “The rural comes from the simple gable forms­—the triangular portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof pitches—and transitional is in reference to those little tweaks, like the window placement and the colorful accents around them.”

The other design element that sets the home apart is its second-floor entertainment spaces.

 “Since the home is on a lake, you have to worry about flooding,” Kreski said. “Because of that, we decided to flip things and put the theater, game room, and exercise center upstairs, which is pretty unusual for most homes.”

With its unique spine configuration, reversed layout, and numerous exterior materials and finishes, the custom home took several months to design and over a year to construct, according to Kreski. In the end, he said the finished product was well worth the effort.

“I just drove by it the other day and I still think that it looks amazing,” he said. “The last I heard, the family still loves living there just as much as when they moved in, which is all I can really ask for.”  

This article was printed in the November/December 2020 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.