This Mid-Century Modern Custom-Built House Is the Perfect Lakefront Getaway

A family’s second home two hours north of Philly is a new build with lots of character.

mid-century modern lake house

This mid-century modern lake house has gorgeous views and tons of style. Photograph by Brian Wetzel

This project — a from-the-ground-up house completed in 2019 — was in the works for more than a year before designer Nicole S. O’Dwyer was brought on. The owners, a couple with children who live in Chester County, have family ties to Fairview Lake. When a property became available there, they snagged it. (To orient you, Fairview Lake is a few minutes from the well-known Lake Wallenpaupack, which is about 30 miles east of Scranton.)

The owners had a strong vision: a spare-no-expense mid-century home that’s designed for casual entertaining but keeps the focus on the incredible setting. “Everything bounced off of the lake,” says O’Dwyer, “from the color scheme to transom windows to the wood beams.”

O’Dwyer helped the owners add finishing touches to what Joybeck Builders and Turkel Design architects (out of Boston) had started. In the end, the 3,100-square-foot house took three years to build, and for good reason: Every inch was considered, and many elements were custom. (O’Dwyer even traveled to San Francisco to select a glaze for bathroom tiles.) “It’s nice to work with clients who are so specific in what they want,” says O’Dwyer. “When you’re able to provide them with the right option, it’s an immediate attraction.”

“From the placement of the curtains to the wall treatments, everything was specifically engineered to fit the architectural elements.” — Nicole S. O’Dwyer, designer

Dining Room

Minimalism abounds because “it’s all about the view,” says O’Dwyer. The barely-there roller shades are automated; low-back brown leather Bo Concept chairs play off the ceiling beams. Blue accents in the rug reflect the lake.

mid-century modern lake house

Photograph by Brian Wetzel

Living Room

The “lift and slide” glass doors stack to open the room to the outside. The Knoll drapes — and the corner-bending rod they’re on — were custom-designed to keep the view unobstructed but offer vital privacy. The two L-shaped lake-facing sofas are from Bo Concept; the Eames chair and rug are vintage, from the owners’ existing collection.

mid-century modern lake house

Photograph by Brian Wetzel


The light fixture, from Ferguson in King of Prussia, is a quiet focal point that accentuates a cable-rail staircase.

midcentury modern lake house

Photograph by Brian Wetzel

Primary Bathroom

The tiles are handmade by Canada’s Dear Human; O’Dwyer and the owners went through rounds of revisions to get the colors and pattern right. The pops of red tie into other red elements throughout the home. The tile colors also reflect the adjacent Jupiter Ten wallpaper in the primary bedroom: “The owners didn’t want to go understated here.”

Published as “Just Add Water” in the October 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.