Discover how the Gren family transformed their Chautauqua Lake property into a home with a sense of place that will stand the test of time.
When the Gren family began spending summer days and sunset evenings on their Chautauqua Lake property in Bemus Point, New York, all that stood were grassy, wild meadows sloping down to a steep waterfront entry and woods. On weekends, they’d boat and gradually tamed the land. During this, they unearthed a 50-foot built-in rock wall with a built-in fireplace and patio area.
“It is gorgeous — the highlight — and it has been here since the beginning,” says Aubin Gren, whose parents gifted her and her husband, Jon, the property when her father passed away.
In the beginning, the longtime Jamestown family built a dock where they could launch boats, “and we used this as our backyard for 25 years before we built,” Gren says, noting the lakefront lot was minutes from their downtown Jamestown neighborhood.
A few years ago, the couple enlisted architect Keri Belovarac, with Bemus Bay Architecture PLLC, and project manager John Neail, with Empire Development, to transform the idyllic, characteristic lot into a family home suited for adult children, entertaining and a legacy of enjoying the lake.
“The private property is set off the road and includes a back hillside with a front that tapers down to the lake, so we needed to balance the slope,” Neail says.
The foundation for the design was the special stone patio space the family cherishes and wanted to incorporate into the design as a family focal point.
“We wanted the house to flow naturally into that while taking advantage of lake views in the front, and we wanted to make it all feel natural — a home with Hamptons-style flair that fits in with local architecture,” she says.
Basically, the Grens didn’t want a new-build look. After all, the property and their memories there had staying power. The materials and design decisions reflect this purpose. Gren says, “We wanted the house to look like it had been here for ages.”
Family-Friendly Flow. Positioning the kitchen off of the garage entry allows family and visitors to enter into a mudroom that transitions into a butler’s pantry before entering the cooking/dining area.
“We wanted it to be as functional as possible,” Gren says. “It’s easy access for bringing in groceries, and if you’re coming in from outdoors the mudroom is convenient.” Pocket doors on both sides of the butler pantry close off the space while providing easy entry.
Finishing Touches. A round kitchen banquette complements the rounded black walnut ceiling, and the same cozy wood features are incorporated in doors flanking the living room fireplace that enter into a second living room that accommodates overnighters or lounging. The two-way fireplace warms both rooms with ambiance. Black walnut also graces the dining room ceiling, defining the space in the open-concept floor plan. Gren loves the kitchen coffee station with walnut doors that open and slide back. “It looks like a stand-alone cupboard,” she says.
Lake Living. It’s all about outdoor spaces at the Gren’s 1-acre lakefront residence and retreat. “If you are standing on the back patio, you can look through gorgeous, wall-sized windows through the house to the bay window and see the lake,” Gren says, naming what she says is a top feature.
Upstairs, a covered porch with lake views connects the primary bedroom and one of the kids’ rooms. The third room has a woods view out back. The Belvedere-style front porch overlooks the water and gives the home a timeless East Coast character that accomplishes the Grens’ goal to create an established home.
A nautical polar white and harbor blue exterior in resilient Everlast composite siding suits the setting. The couple planned ahead for parking, paving space for five cars by the house with a back parking lot to avoid trampling the lawn.
With a lake in front and wildlife out back, the scenery is ever-changing and one of the aspects of the property the Grens enjoy most.
“Being on Lakeside and Bemus Point is central to everywhere on the lake, and we never could have done this without my parents,” Gren says. “I pay full homage to them.”
When it comes to house decoration, a lot of people are getting the blues. Be it inside or outside, people are using the color in everything from accents to the dominant color. And it seems like the darker, the better.
“We still have a lot of people who want white houses,” says Lauren Glinn, sales manager for Wayne Homes in Sandusky, “But it goes from one extreme to the other. They either want white siding, or something really dark. We offer a color called cast iron, which is almost black. And navy blue is popular, too.”
Even light-colored houses are using dark accents in porch posts, shutters and doors.
Inside, navy blue is a popular accent color, says Julianne Lee of Catawba Interiors in Port Clinton. It can be found in accent pieces like artwork, rugs or pillows.
“But sometimes you’ll see it on bathroom vanities or in the kitchen cabinets, traditionally where white can be found. You can see people will do white cabinets on the walls, and then have a blue island in the kitchen,” she says.
Glinn says Wayne Homes has started to offer painted cabinets, and navy blue remains a popular choice there as well.
Clare Opfer, director of sales and marketing for S&H Blinds & Floors in Sandusky, says window treatments are booming — many of which are being automated. “People love an extra piece of technology in their lives,” she says. “If you want to be able to tell Alexa to open the shades, that’s another option.”
She’s also seeing a lot of use of tile — even in dark colors — in kitchen backsplashes and showers.
“Window treatments and tile are like pieces of art,” she says. “Installers make it their palette, and people want them to be showcases in their homes.”