Murdough Design Creates a Modern Lake House

May 6, 2022

A lake house proves modern and organic—and sophisticated and fun—aren’t mutually exclusive.

Text by Erika Ayn Finch    Photography by Chuck Choi

If the weekend camp perched above ferns and glacial boulders in New Hampshire evokes a grown-up treehouse, architect Tom Murdough doesn’t mind. If it reads like a love poem to the surrounding forest and lake, even better. “It was our intention to weave the building into the trees, to use the canopy and boulders, to connect to the site rather than clear the site,” says Murdough. “Because we used a modern language, we weren’t constrained by traditional details or even window sizes, allowing the home to have a clear and strong relationship with nature.”

Indeed, relationships were at the heart of the matter. The homeowner says he always thought of second homes as headaches, but a dinner-party conversation changed his perspective so quickly he found himself shopping for a weekend retreat for his family of five the same night. “That a lake house could be the site for many joyous family memories is obvious,” he says. “What I hadn’t considered was that those memories create a strong sense of gravity that can bring everyone back together, across generations. That really struck a chord with me.”

It took several years to find the right house…which turned out to be the wrong house. The family purchased a single-story camp that was elevated on piers with the intent of remodeling and adding a modern addition. They hired Murdough Design after seeing one of the firm’s projects profiled in a magazine, but the design team quickly determined that a new camp inspired by the original made more sense.

Completed in 2021, the resulting structures are defined by an elevated boardwalk that connects the main house with a guest house on the ground level and a bridge with a perforated-metal walkway that connects the two roof-decks on the upper level. “With the building and boardwalk hovering over the landscape, you get a heightened sense of what is architectural and what is natural,” says Murdough.  But perhaps it is the happy camper lifestyle—and memories—the design fosters that is appreciated most. “Tom’s design first brings everyone together in the main areas of the home, and then highlights the natural beauty of the site to encourage us to spend more time outside,” says the homeowner.

Project Team
Architecture: Tom Murdough, Rob Potish, Jenny Tjia, Ben Tulman, Murdough Design
Builder: Jim DePaolo, Denali Construction Corporation