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At Home: Coastal style for a lake-front home |

At Home: Coastal style for a lake-front home

When you live on Lake Sherwood and plan to remodel your home, taking advantage of a beautiful water view is the top priority.

That’s what Golden Rule Remodeling owner Matt Vincent and designer Tammy Thiessen did for homeowners who purchased a 1970s-era home on the lake. The owners knew their new house needed a lot of work to emphasize the panoramic view and bring everything up to modern-day standards.

The result is a home with a coastal feel, thanks to the light wood flooring and color palette of white, blues and beige.

The decor is a mix of traditional grace and casual comfort often found in East Coast ocean-front homes. Plus, there’s no need for cliched accessories, such as boat paddles, a lighthouse or starfish figurines. The view is enough.

“This client has a fabulous sense of style, so it was fun collaborating with her to make that style come to life,” Thiessen said.

To get a more modern, open-concept design, walls were torn down and the living room ceiling was vaulted. Now, there are clear sightlines from the front of the house to the back, which features a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake.

Two seating areas were created — one for viewing television and the other for enjoying the fireplace. Paneled wainscoting, crown molding and build-in cabinets along one wall give the room a traditional feel, as does the textured blue wallpaper and elegant light fixtures.

A massive fireplace was removed to make way for the new kitchen. The brick was reused for the new gas fireplace in the living room, as well as the backsplash in the kitchen.

“By reusing the brick, it looks like it’s always been here,” Thiessen noted.

On this particular day, Vincent and Thiessen were going through the home to make sure all the finishing touches were complete while the furniture was being put into place. Thiessen was helping with the furniture placement and staging some of the accessories.

While the homeowners had a clear idea of what they wanted, Vincent said he’s worked with people whose remodeling visions aren’t so clear.

“Each one is different,” he said. “Some have actual plans, while others have just a concept. Generally, it’s a good idea for a homeowner to know what they want before we get started.”

Part of the process Vincent and Thiessen go through with new clients is to figure out just how much of their remodeling dream is actually possible from a practical and budgetary viewpoint. The current trend in homes is an open-floor plan, which typically means removing walls and installing costly engineered beams.

Other remodeling trends include removing bathtubs in master bathrooms and designing outdoor entertainment areas.

When looking for a remodeling contractor, Vincent suggested homeowners find someone who fits their personality and with whom they feel they can communicate and work with throughout the project. He said to make sure the contractor is insured and bonded and to ask for references.

He recommended homeowners find someone who is a member of the Topeka Area Building Association.

Vincent said homeowners also should “expect the unexpected.”

“You never know what you’ll find when you start tearing into walls,” he said. “You want to have a budget for your project, but also plan for the unexpected.”

Thiessen, who went through a major remodel of her own home earlier this year, noted, “The process is fun in the beginning when the work is starting, but it gets hard for a while. You’re not seeing the beautiful tile you picked out going in, but instead seeing the electrical work getting done. But it gets fun again in the end.”

Linda A. Ditch is a freelance writer from Topeka. She can be reached at

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