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Grand Cottage: Lakeside Log Home Getaway

Persistence pays off when one couple turns a small idea into their dream getaway.
by Teresa L. Wolff | Photos by Roger Wade

All Judy Bottarelli ever wanted was a small, intimate home on a lake. As a child, she and her family rented a waterside cottage in Wisconsin each summer. Those memories stayed with her, and she longed for her own children to share that same experience.

The hand-selected ceramic tiles comprising the backsplash pull their colors from the surrounding decor. Custom cabinets, like the ones shown here, also are a great way to personalize your kitchen, providing unique storage, like the drawers beneath the stove, and a chance to create a distinctive look for your home.

As they raised their family, Judy and her husband, Bruno, put Judy’s dream on hold until they were able to afford a second home. Once their finances were in order, Judy spent the next five years searching for an existing vacation residence. She laughingly recalls, “Each morning, as soon as Bruno headed off to work, I jumped in the car and scoured the countryside north of Chicago for my cottage, but to no avail.”

Judy never faltered in her quest, and eventually she located a one-acre parcel on Green Lake of the Waterdale Lake chain. Although it cost twice what she and Bruno had budgeted, they agreed the location—with its sandy beach and beautiful view of the lake—was perfect. And they weren’t the only ones who felt that way.

“We were babysitting our son’s English bulldog. This dog absolutely hates water. We were stunned when he jumped out of the car, waded into the lake, came out, plopped down on the sand and began sunning his belly. We figured, if he approved, it must be something special. That was the deciding moment,” Judy states with a laugh.


With their property in hand, the couple needed to decide what style home to build. They had fallen in love with log homes during their travels to Colorado but equally admired the historic Cape Code residences in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Their solution was to meld these two styles, incorporating design aspects of the Caribbean, Arizona, Italy, Australia, Africa and Midwest farms in the process.

Large-diameter character logs provide support for the covered deck overlooking Green Lake. Exterior room decks and railings are constructed of oiled Ipe Brazilian hardwood.

An architect, Bruno was able to put his stamp on the three-level, 6,800-square-foot home by finding the correct balance of styles and creating the coziness Judy desired. “We also used Christopher Alexander’s definitive treatise on timeless design, A Pattern Language, as a guiding pattern to create our most notable places in the home,” Bruno adds.

After careful consideration, Judy and Bruno opted for a hybrid, energy-efficient home with hand-hewn flat-surface logs and timbers from Wisconsin Log Homes. For their builder, the Bottarellis hired Randy Thelen, owner of Thelen Total Construction, because of his experience building lake houses. They also were impressed with the number of true craftsmen on the Thelen team.

The lower level is modeled after a Chicago tavern. Patio doors open to the terrace and a view of Green Lake.

Bruno adds, “I also needed someone who would be patient enough to work with me. I have a tendency to be overly meticulous. Randy’s easygoing temperament fit my expectations beautifully.” Randy notes the overall goal was to give the home the impression of a cottage that had been on the property for many years, but had been added onto over time. This contributed greatly to the charm of the residence, he relates.

DeLuca Architects designed the home with six baths and 2,800 square feet of outdoor living space divided between three outdoor decks and patios. Each floor conveniently has its own laundry room. Two fully equipped kitchens (one on the main floor, the other in the walkout lower level) make entertaining a breeze.

The wall of glass on the view side of the home includes a variety of geometric shaped panes, some with 4-by-4-inch muntins, set between the trusses and beams for a dramatic architectural focal point. Exposed rafters, trusses, heavy post and beam structures and wood plank ceilings replicate how homes were built in the past.

“We wanted each of our sons to have privacy when he’s at the lake house. Therefore, in addition to our master bedroom suite, there are two more bedroom suites, each with its own full bath. A bunkroom for our grandchildren was another must. The office in the loft allows Bruno to work from home should he have a pressing project deadline,” Judy explains.

The lower level provides active spaces for the surround-sound TV lounge, pool room, Ping-Pong room, work shop, wine cellar and a future home theater. The two-story garage provides ample room to store snowmobiles and lawncare equipment. A separate guest house is set at a slight angle to the main dwelling and includes a study/bedroom and bathroom.

Bruno and Judy are committed to environmental sustainability and used sound ecological principles to develop their lakefront property, where drainage and erosion are primary concerns. To help control any potential surface pollutants from entering Green Lake, they used an arrangement of deep drainage pits filled with crushed rock to collect surface runoff. This runoff then filters through the ground and recharges the ground aquifers. Lawns and garden areas are watered from a lake irrigation system rather than using potable water.

Judy based the theme of each of the home's four bedrooms, complete with its own gas-burning fireplace, around the couple's travel adventures. She dubbed this guest suite the "Caribbean," with accents to reflect the tropical setting of a resort they had visited.

Turf areas have been minimized to reduce the need to apply grass nutrients. “Our home is engineered for year-round use and enables us to monitor and control heating and air conditioning from our primary residence in Naperville, Illinois. This ensures that this home is comfortable when we arrive.

High-efficiency, multi-furnace-zoned heating and air conditioning allow us to temper only the space being occupied for greater energy efficiency. Hot water radiant floors eliminate drafts during the winter months, making all the surfaces comfortable to the touch. Automated thermostats manage comfort settings throughout the home,” Bruno explains.

Nearly all rooms in the home are equipped with Cat 5 computer network wiring, digital HDTV satellite network wiring and multiline wireless phones. The house and grounds are integrated into a seamless wireless network. iPod innovations have enabled guests to bring their own music and plug directly into strategically located iPod cradles, distributing high-quality stereo music digitally throughout the house and grounds.

“In addition to Honeywell security systems throughout, we’re able to monitor the house and grounds from afar over the Internet using webcams. This convenience allows us to view the home, intruders and the weather from my laptop computer when we travel,” Bruno explains.

The vacation home truly has become a gathering place for the Bottarelli family. Their older son, Bryan, his wife, Katherine, and their children, 4-year-old Julie and 10-month-old Paige, are frequent visitors. When their younger son, Rob, is able to join them, he finds kayaking on Green Lake to be one of his favorite activities. Bruno’s father enjoys fishing.

“When we’re here, I feel so pampered and comforted,” Bruno proclaims. Judy adds, “Although it might be a bit more than the cottage I had envisioned, it is the ideal vacation spot for our family. I’ve had people tell me it’s the only place they have ever seen me relax.”

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 6,800
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 3.5
Producer: Wisconsin Log Homes
Architect: Nicholas R. DeLuca & Associates, Architects
Builder: Thelen Total Construction Inc.

Published in Country's Best Log Homes
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One Response

  1. I work for the builder of this home: Thelen Total Construction. The owner – Bruno Bottarelli and I are interested in obtaining reprints of the article with the photos. I’d also would like to add this to our website. Please call or email me with the info. Thanks! Melody Fehling 262-723-3588

    Melody FehlingAugust 27, 2009 @ 11:10 amReply

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