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The Lake family room features a large brick wood-burning fireplace and an entertainment center that hides the television. It rises out of the bottom of the center with a click of a button.
The Lake family room features a large brick wood-burning fireplace and an entertainment center that hides the television. It rises out of the bottom of the center with a click of a button.

The lakeside retreat

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

It was the tall windows and steeply pitched roof that hooked Cliff Lake on his family's vacation home on Detroit Lake five years ago -- or so said his wife, Susan.

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Since they purchased the property, the Lakes remodeled parts of the house to accommodate the lifestyle they lead there while away from their full time home in Wayzata, Minn.

What resulted is an open floor plan and plenty of fun to keep their kids and grandkids occupied.

They didn't add space, they simply moved some interior walls, like one separating the kitchen from the family room.

It had been a smaller galley-style kitchen, Susan said, and the hallway that resulted from the wall made everything else too secluded for their lifestyle. So, they tore the wall down.

"I love it," Susan said of the open layout. "I would totally rebuild this house in a heartbeat. I can be in the kitchen, which is where I live anyway, and I can see everything that's going on."

They also had the closets, or parts of them, removed from the three bedrooms on the second level to make room for desks.

"Everyone brings a laptop when they come here," she explained, "and we don't really need the space. All we normally bring are suitcases, swimsuits, sweatshirts ... If you open the drawers, there's nothing there."

Through the front door, the entryway is open to the stairway above, including a very high vaulted ceiling.

To the left is the living room, where Susan said they entertain the most. It makes sense -- the entire back wall of the room is a well-stocked wet bar, complete with a wine cooler set into the cabinetry.

Big windows on the lakeside take advantage of fantastic north-facing views, and below the window, a spectacular antique-store find: a low bookcase that fits perfectly from one end of the windows to the other and acts as a bench. Plush leather furniture lends itself to good conversation, and an upright piano is tucked to the side -- Susan said both of their daughters play.

Around the corner is a formal dining room, and a table that opens up to fit 16 people, making it perfect for holidays, Susan said.

Into the kitchen, distressed cherry cabinets and black granite countertops highlight the top-of-the-line appliances and a solid oak floor that runs through most of the main level.

To the other end of the kitchen is a more casual family room, with a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace and a wall mural of the Lake's family tree. Susan said the artists that did it have to keep coming back to update it.

"They were just here not too long ago," she said. "We just had another grandbaby six months ago."

TV watching is common in this room, but Susan said she wanted the set hidden -- as she pulls out a remote and the flat screen rises out of the bottom of the entertainment center.

"I don't like having it out all the time, so this way, it can just go away," she said.

Upstairs, the three bedrooms are all a little different, mostly in furnishings.

"We've got a king, queen and twin room, and the kids have to draw cards to see who gets what," Susan said. "That way, no fighting over the rooms."

The rooms with the two twin beds and the queen-size bed share a full bathroom down the hall, but the one with the king-size bed not only has an attached bathroom, but a small balcony overlooking the lake.

Back downstairs, a mud room and powder room off the kitchen are a godsend on winter days when the kids have been outside, Susan said. Laundry facilities and lots of storage help keep all those boots, coats and mittens in order.

The heated garage acts as something of a playroom for the grandkids, too -- the floor is covered in plastic tiles (the cars get parked over permeable ones), and play sets and toys are set up for fun.

Stairs in the garage lead up to a music and electronics space, where Susan said the younger generations spend much of their time when they're vacationing here.

Guitars, an electric drum set, a big TV set up for Wii, Playstation and Guitar Hero, and a big leather couch make this the perfect hangout for people like the Lake's son, who owns a music store in Maple Grove, Minn.

"He's an electronics freak. His thing is to record and mix music," she shared. "The kids are always up here -- but (since it's above the garage) I don't have to hear it."

The backyard, however, is a perfect retreat. Three exits from the house in the dining room, kitchen and family room, lead to a sprawling lawn with areas for laying in a hammock, roasting marshmallows by the bonfire, or taking out their "Duffy," an electric boat that folks use in southern California, which is where they bought it.

After all the remodeling, the Lakes have a perfect place on the lake.

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