Retreats | TEA2 Architects
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The homeowners’ goal: to create a home that feels one with the landscape, as elemental and natural as possible. This form was designed to create a striking profile with (not against) the rolling bluffs.

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The home consists of three iconic forms, connected by a center structure. Stone piers support a trellis that connects and animates the south side.

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A design inspired by Cotswold cottages, the house is a marriage of historic and modern architecture….and from sunrise to sunset, a study in how to receive light.

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One of the most important jobs of architecture: to reveal the power of the landscape. We set up the house with sections at right angles to frame and organize distinct views.

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The vaulted ceiling is anchored with the minimalist lines of a Kasota stone fireplace. The big slab stones were fleuri cut for a swirl effect, then sandblasted to age and enliven.

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Minimalist design and simple lines continue throughout the house, and are accentuated by the homeowners’ personal style and carefully edited collections.

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To extend the living room view, we used corner glass, eliminating the interruption of a jamb or corner post.

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The home employs the Japanese concept “ma”—giving equal value to positive and negative space. Here, the simplicity of the open space is as important as its opposite.

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The kitchen is also an exercise in paring down. Tables and chairs were made by the owner from wood harvested on site. The metal-frame shelving, fabricated by a local blacksmith, is replicated on doors and shelves throughout the house.

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The minimal trim creates a “quiet” background for other attention-worthy details. Doors and windows are framed in plaster, which the owners formed, sanded and finished themselves.

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Trellises create dappled light that leads you from one end of the house to the other. Vertical grain oak, with visible knots, was used throughout the house—celebrating the combination of perfection and imperfection.

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The dramatic view from the bath is as soothing and lovely as any in the house, creating a calm respite on the way to the master bedroom.

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The master bedroom is the last of the home’s three bays. Flooded with morning light, it provides spectacular views to beehives, wildflowers, forest, river bluffs and more.

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Contemporary Farmhouse

Pepin, WI

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Our clients cherished large, frequent gatherings of family and friends. They wanted their retreat to feel rustic, yet contemporary and inviting. We stretched it along the waterline to allow extensive lake views to the north, and sun to penetrate from the south.

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The living room has separate spaces for winter and summer—this one, wood-filled and cozy with a massive fireplace.

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A steampunk-inspired, TEA2-designed roll-down screen for the fireplace. Wood storage is recessed into a slot in the chimney. The TV, to the left, disappears behind pocket doors.

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The wood throughout the house is reclaimed timber and barn board. The warmth of the materials keeps the house from feeling voluminous.

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Natural light was maximized with a range hood and cabinets that “float” in front of south windows. The wall-less kitchen also grabs light from the screened porch.

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During summer months, the screened porch becomes an extension of the kitchen— expanding the seating, eating and entertaining area.

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State-of-the-art, thermal bi-fold doors separate kitchen from porch. When they’re open, the two rooms live as one; the threshold between them seamless.

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Family and guests can enjoy multiple activities on the porch while expansive screening brings in light from the south, and views of forest to the east and beach to the north.

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In cooler months, dining moves inside and looks out to the fire pit, pines and lake beyond.

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From the lake, the home seems almost transparent: a glowing, glass structure on top of a knoll, providing a spectacular connection to the outdoors.

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And yet, the home retains the feeling of a great rustic cabin.

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Rustic Retreat

Northern Wisconsin

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This couple wanted to replace their cramped cottage on a long-loved peninsula with gathering space for an extended family—and charm, not square footage, topped their list.

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We anchored the home with American Granite of a casual, yet ordered, pattern. The wood bracket and stone corbel gracefully marry the overhead beam and structure to the stone.

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The wraparound stone terrace extends the cottage form, and creates layers of gathering areas and prospect for breathtaking views of the lake on three sides.

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The cottage roof forms, terrace, and steps cascade down to the land—integrating an outdoor kitchen and fire pit. The terrace wall was designed to double as seating.

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The “witch’s hat” stairway tower recalls historical lake “lookouts” and creates a lighthouse-like effect—perfect for a peninsula home. Copper metalwork, ridges and finials add lovely patina-ed detail.

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The combined dining and living area, framed in knotty alder, offers an expansive view to the dock and beyond to the point—important to a family of boating and water-skiing enthusiasts.

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The kitchen adds a counterpoint of fresh color to the laid-back ambiance. It flows seamlessly onto the screened porch via a single 6-by-7-foot sliding door.

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A spacious kitchen work area is essential to feeding throngs. Strategically placed eating areas—in the adjacent porch, dining room and tucked into the stair—graciously seat all.

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A raised second-floor vault accommodates custom-made triple-bunk beds—every child’s dream. With judicious room designs, we created sleeping space for 25 within house, carriage and tiny cottage.

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A formal entryway was forsaken for a casual, eclectic entry/bead-board mudroom. Guests can head straight to the lake-facing screened porch or turn and step in to the kitchen and great room.

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We designed a long and shallow porch—to provide distinct living areas with up-close, expansive views of the lake.

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Family Heritage Cottage

Central Minnesota

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The site overlooks Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands, and a ravine with a public path to the shore. Porches and terraces provide choices for enjoying fresh air and views in privacy. The stone base echoes the sandstone native to Bayfield.

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Site limitations demanded a compact, square footprint. The blockiness of the design was opened up with hipped roof wings and graceful eyebrow windows.

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The homeowners’ goal of an evening glow was created with carefully selected woodwork, stone and lighting. The essence is of a handmade boat—reflective of Arts & Crafts style, but filled with light.

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Mahogany and Spanish Cedar were used to create layers, depth, and niches for objets d’art and books. Here, the kitchen blends gracefully into living space. Behind, a hard-working prep kitchen/pantry.

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Mahogany beams frame a breakfast nook and create datum lines throughout the home. Tucked into virtually every wall are bookshelves and display spaces. The Rosso Verona marble backsplash adds subtle texture.

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Strategically perched above the ravine, the breakfast nook enjoys southern sun and a Lake Superior view.

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Can a dining room double as a library? Of course. The table and window seat provide perfect spots to pour over art books and historical documents. Dormers in the barrel-vaulted ceiling bring light to illuminate books or brunch.

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A hallway through the center of the home might have been dark and dreary, but carving into the roofline allowed a skylight. Russian Waterglass provides soft dappled light.

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The hallway becomes a salon filled with collectibles. Adjustable, low-voltage recessed lights direct the beams, making art glow and pop.

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Was the home built recently, or 100 years ago? With touches like Arts & Crafts reproduction lighting, the question is hard to answer.

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The finishing touch? A Corten Steel bridge built over a refreshed ravine is a beautiful amenity for both the homeowners, and the many cyclists and walkers who also enjoy the trail.

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Lake Superior Retreat

Bayfield, WI

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The drive rounds a boulder outcropping and this unique estate is revealed. Windows align for a peek at impending vistas, and the tower hints this is no conventional house: 15th Century English design was made current with modern space, light, detailing.

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Wrapped in glass, the family room was intentionally sited to bring in spectacular valley and lake views on one side, and warm southern light on the other. Wood beams were spliced and artfully wrapped with metal strapping to achieve the needed length.

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Thick, stone homes can feel like fortresses—but here, the blend of wood and plaster create both warmth and brightness, and floating stairs convey openness.

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The dining room is defined by its floor level and coffered ceiling. Cascading the rooms down the hillside allows each to have a spectacular view of the valley and lake beyond.

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The working office has sunny exposure to the front of the home, and a clear sightline—over stepped-down dining and living rooms—to the valley and lake.

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The great room faces north for the view and receives morning sun through a myriad of windows to the east. Sunsets are enjoyed from a side terrace to the west.

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Sustainable resources were important to our client. All of the mahogany—thousands of board feet—was sourced from old-growth trees felled by hurricanes.

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A floating bridge unites bedroom suites and a one-of-a-kind “tower” office, up the stairs to the right.

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The master suite is immersed in light and views from north and south.

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The glass-walled room that rises above the roof? The ultimate office getaway, designed so our client would have a soaring treetop view—a place to “get in my canoe,” as he put it, and think. Soon, it will also look over a pool and landscaping.

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Modern English Manor

Lake Waramaug, CT

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Cabin Retreat

Northern Minnesota

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Park Point Home

Duluth, MN

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Shingle style was a natural choice for this grand home: born of the seashore, visually connecting indoors and outdoors, flexible enough to marry lake lifestyle with formal character.

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The back of the home curves for panoramic island views, which allows the front to be narrower, more intimate and more welcoming. An eyebrow window winks over the entry, gracefully hinting at an intriguing interior.

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Nuance, detail, and substance are everything. From here, one can see the depth of the walls, articulation of the windows, intricate profiles, and a deep stone ledge—lending texture, mass, and a real sense of history.

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The home provides a panoramic shoreline view that changes as one room flows to the next. Media quarry stone, used in the Pennsylvania neighborhood where the homeowner grew up, anchors the seemingly endless glass.

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The arcing path to the pool house defines a natural amphitheater—with lake, loons and children on the main stage below. Under the trellis, grandparents can partake while enjoying shady, dappled light.

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The couple wanted the interior to have a very formal, East Coast sensibility; a domed ceiling with oculus brings light from the eyebrow window to the rotunda.

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The outside curve of the home is evident in the bending of the beams and the banded ceiling. Light from overhead dormers animates the room and highlights both architectural detail and formal décor.

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Classical columns are key to the architectural style, helping create depth and substance—but are strategically placed outside of the windows so they become part of the view rather than blocking it.

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The Asian-influenced railing works well with Shingle-style eclecticism, and is illuminated under a skylight built into a recessed, hidden area of the roof.

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In the less formal second floor, the window bay playfully echoes the vaulted ceiling. Additional light floods the unique ceiling through the “stargazer” window—which provides sky views around the clock.

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The master vanity area is located within the tower. Even here, the outside world takes precedence: The vanity mirror stands away from the window, view unobstructed.

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The porch—strategically placed between kitchen and beach—is a focal point, day or night. Rather than anchoring the fireplace at the end, we floated it inside the room (and placed the columns beyond the glass) so lake views are not interrupted.

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Inside the gracious screen porch, a barrel-vaulted ceiling adds to the sense of boundless water/sky. Dormers light up the room and the wood ceiling. A place one could spend all day in...

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When your home is a 10-acre island, how do you take full advantage of it? We designed a meandering drive in to engage guests with the spectacular setting—and worked with landscape architect Dave Bush to create a nature path around the perimeter.

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Shingle Style Lake Home

Northern Minnesota

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Gate & Carriage House

Lake Pend Oreille, ID

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Cozy Lake Cottage

White Bear Lake, MN

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Rustic Bunkhouse

Northern Wisconsin

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Balsam Lake Retreat

Balsam Lake, WI