Houzz Tour: Simple, Complex Family Retreat

Minneapolis few Andrea and Brett Swan expected to capture supreme elegance with simplicity in their serene cabin in Lake Mille Lacs, Minn.. Andrea, owner of Swan Architecture, made the award winning cabin, called Swan Fish Camp.

“Our aim was to keep the layout minimum,” Andrea says. “We lead such hard, fast-paced lives, so much attention and care was put in creating a sense of calm, a space that enables us to decompress and recharge.”

Houzz in a Glance
Who lives here: Brett, Andrea and their daughter Emi Swan
Location: Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota
Size: 1,950 square feet, 1 bedroom, 2 baths

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

The calming color palette of the outside resonates within. The major living spaces were stacked toward the lake with furniture strategically positioned to support the fantastic view. The aim was to keep the layout small, cozy and intimate.

Pillows: Pottery Barn
Leather sofas, sheepskin throws/rug: IKEA
Cowhide chairs: Room & Board

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

Vernacular farmhouses, a design in the early 20th century motivated the cottage’s exterior. The blue color of the roofline was selected as an extension of the skies.

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

A favorite feature of homes in the area would be a porch. The sleek lines of the stainless steel cable rail system add a modern touch and allow for unobstructed views of the lake.

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

Maintaining the base palette impartial allows the accessories and art to be readily interchangeable. “Initially there was a concern that blue was too cool a accent color,” Andrea says. “But adding in layers and textures from pillows, rugs and throws creates heat and visual attention.”

Arc lamp and artwork: Z Gallerie

Here, sleek and sophisticated cowhide chairs blend well with the budget-friendly black leather sofa and glass end tables.

Cowhide chairs: Room & Board
Leather sofas: Ikea
Coffee tables: Ikea
Pillows: Pottery Barn

French doors open to the expansive wraparound deck that overlooks Mille Lacs Lake. Mille Lacs Lake is Minnesota’s second-largest lake and crosses over 200 square kilometers.

Since it’s the walleye fishery in the nation Mille Lacs is a favorite fishing spot. Fishing is also one of Brett and daughter Emi’s favourite pastimes.

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

Back inside, the couple opted for bamboo flooring because of its simple beauty, resilience and environmentally friendly attributes.

Art: Z Gallerie

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

The stainless steel cable railing system employed here matches that of the outside deck railing.

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

The kitchen area is mainly white, which the homeowners say they find both calming and invigorating.

Barstools: IKEA

Sara Ballinger – 1130 Creative, LLC

The twig lends a nod .

Twig stag: Z Gallerie

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

The backsplash is made from recycled oyster shells. “We wanted the backsplash to have interest and this was the ideal material,” Andrea says. “It brings a spiritual and celestial feel about the cabin. In a way, it is like bringing the sea to Minnesota.”

Granite: Kashmir white

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

Here, multi-colored rug tiles specify the dining area and match the freestanding fireplace. “We did not need to have the fireplace to contend with the view, so we gave it a more secondary role,” Andrea says. The fireplace is centrally positioned for effective heating throughout the cabin. Lanterns flank each side of the chute for symmetry and balance.

Birch dining table/chairs: IKEA
Rug tiles: Flor Outlet

The cabin uses affordable traditional entry lanterns through the interior. “We discovered there’s enormous cost-savings in using exterior lighting” Andrea states. “We purchased each fixture for under $100.”

Heading upstairs, the attic is the cottage’s just dedicated zone for tv viewing. “We don’t have cable or dish network here,” Andrea says, “but we still love to cozy up and watch films.” A futon doubles as a seating area during the day and an automatic guest room at nighttime.

Futon and reclining seat: IKEA

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

On a lower level, commercial grade vinyl floors produces a fashionable practical choice for the mudroom and staircase. The circular patterned floor resembles a pebbly beach and is easy to care for and clean. Hooks line the wall, for beach towels, jackets, tote bags and the like.

Floors: Armstrong

Sara Ballinger – 1130 Creative, LLC

The name, “Swan Fish Camp,” reminds Andrea and Brett each of the cottage’s function: a place to unwind and have fun with fishing. “To us, Swan Fish Camp promotes a youthful escape, rekindling if we were children, heading to camp,” Andrea says. “You don’t hear of that too often any more (kids going to summer camp), and also we wanted to re-create that sense of a escape, and promote pure fishing fun for ourselves and our kid.”

Andrea Swan – Swan Architecture

In Terms of the near future of Swan Fish Camp, Andrea and Brett are unclear. “Since I am an architect, we’re open to keeping this cabin or possibly moving on to another cabin someday. If we do, then we’d love to explore the possibilities of another design management, a true Bavarian style chalet.”

Meanwhile, the family intends to delight in Swan Fish Camp for what it is: a more sophisticated and serene cabin retreat that invites one to just be.

More Houzz excursions:
A Home full of History and Surprise
Meet a Lakefront Home Designed for Work and Play
Conventional Splendor in Minnesota

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