Lake Home Architecture

By Dotty Brothers | September 13, 2023
Lake Home Architecture

When it comes to building dream homes on any of the Brainerd Lakes Area’s many wonderful lakes, there are lots of choices to be made. One of the early choices will relate to architectural style. It’s important to note that lake homes are a little bit different from any home on any street. It’s the lake, of course!

Almost by definition, you’ll have the lake on one side and the road, driveway, or approach on the other. Because of this, lake houses are either reversed—the lake side is the front side—or are designed with two “fronts”: one where you arrive, and one that faces the lake. You want the place where you, your family, and your guests arrive to be welcoming, beautiful, and functional, of course. But let’s be real: the main attraction, the reason you bought the lot, was for the lake.

While there are lots of distinct architectural models for lake houses (see below), they are often interpreted with some common themes, a sort of “lake house” style. This often includes natural materials (like wood and stone), color and design choices designed to fit in with the lake itself, and—this is true for every dream lake house we build—windows placed to maximize the lake views.

Those are just common aspects of lake homes. The foundational style depends largely on the owner’s preference and the lot. Below are some different types of lake house architecture. Much of this is common in the Brainerd Lakes Area, but others are coastal or revival.

timber home Dotty

Classic Timber Frame

This has a similar look to post-and-beam construction. The primary difference is that post-and-beam style uses metal connectors that are visible; timber frame uses wood joinery and fewer (or, for some purists) no metal connectors. But the large, heavy timbers that support the weight of the building are visible and very much part of the aesthetic design of the home (and what connectors there are, should be minimally visible). The timbers themselves are much larger than typical dimensional lumber; they can be finished smooth or left with a rough-hewn look. Sometimes the timber frame look is used purely for aesthetic purposes, making for a striking front entry, or a pergola over a deck.

lodge home dotty lodge home 2 dotty

Lodge Style

A lodge-style house has a lot in common with the lake house aesthetic. It uses natural materials, has large windows, and is intended to fit into the surroundings. They typically have an open floor plan with a large great room (the kind of area that’s perfect for entertaining). In fact, the idea of the lodge-style home puts an emphasis on entertaining and hosting—whether it’s extended family gatherings on the weekends or frequent parties. These homes are often rustic, but by no means old-fashioned. They marry tradition and modern amenities in a way that is charming and cozy yet still spacious and grand. It’s a wonderful way to bring the great outdoors into your home.

Modern farm home dotty modern farm home 2

Modern Farmhouse

This is an enormously popular style throughout the country, though its ascension is fairly recent. This makes sense; farmhouses were traditionally hard-working homes that had to offer utility to the farmers who lived in them. America’s shift from farming to industrialization and manufacturing is a relatively recent one, within the last century or so. The modern revival farmhouse is built to be open and comfortable. This style blends the older shape and vibe of a farmhouse with modern design and features. These houses are often eclectic, incorporating “found” or salvaged materials that reflect the past but are decorative rather than structural. It’s a nice fit for a lake home because it offers the owners plenty of chances to express their whimsy, while being grounded in a classic design.

colonial home dotty


This style of architecture dates to the colonial era in the U.S. Most of the colonial houses in Minnesota are more properly colonial revival, built long after the original style was popularized. But the (usually) 2-3 story houses can be a great fit on a lake. They’re very efficient—kind of just a big box—and flexible. They can easily incorporate, for example, a lot of windows that offer a perfect view of the lake and other scenery. Another nice thing about this architectural style is that it can accommodate anyone’s taste. There are all sorts of different “colonial” styles. The owner can start from that basic design and really make it their own.

The Finished Dream Home

In many cases, the final design will have an existing architectural style at its foundation but might borrow from other styles to create that custom, one-of-a-kind dream home. Regardless of what’s at the base of your inspiration, we can design and build it into reality.

Related Articles

Smart Homes: The Benefits of Using New Technology

Shannon A
May 13, 2024
Read More »

Featured Home - Balance of Design and Land

Shannon A
October 20, 2022
Read More »

We Design and Build Minnesota Lake Homes

Nicolas Gluesenkamp
July 24, 2020
Read More »

Connect on Social Media

Give us a Review

Google reviews

Sign-up for our newsletter for home build tips

* indicates required


Our Memberships

National Association of Homebuilders LogoNAHB 20 Club logoMid-Minnesota Builders Association logoBuilders Association of Minnesota badge