Big Life Update: We Bought a Lake Home!

Sharing Our Journey
Jennifer Lake Style Charade Lake Home
Dress: Sail to Sable x Style Charade Marie Maxi | Sunglasses: Celine (similar) | Bob’s Sweatshirt: vineyard vines Hoodie | Bob’s Shorts: vineyard vines | Bob’s Sneakers: New Balance

After years of searching, we FINALLY found our lake home. A small waterfront cottage has been one of our biggest hopes in life. Not to sound too cheesy, but it’s honestly a dream come true for us. It’s a pinch-me moment. Funny enough, I keep referring to it as the “Style Charade Lake Home.” That will NOT be the name of it, haha. But for the purposes of today, that’s my reference. Bob is fully ready to buy a quarterboard on Nantucket this summer and officially create a nickname for the space.

In so many ways, purchasing a second home is not even about us. Instead, it’s something we want to share with close friends and family. To start, some of our favorite childhood memories are on the lake. Bob and I both spent time at family cottages and on lakes when we were younger. I grew up going to Lake Geneva, summer camp on the water, and enjoying other lakeside communities in Wisconsin with friends and family. Much the same for Bob.

While my family didn’t own a lake home, our close family friends were kind to offer us invites to experience theirs. It meant the world, and I’ll never forget their generosity. We hope to pay it forward in some ways.

Our shared love of being on (and near) the water, plus creating priceless memories with friends and family, compelled us to find something.

Style Charade Lake Home

We often joke this place is the “Lake Home that Style Charade built.” A huge reason why we have been able to do this is thanks to you – our community. I’m emotional just writing these words… and it’s never lost on me that a big reason why this dream is coming true is thanks to you doing life with me.

Since starting to blog in 2008, we’ve kept our blog expenses SMALL. Any funds that we’ve made for the blog have been put aside for taxes and savings. We have a rule – don’t touch anything unless absolutely necessary. We’ve abided by that rule every year of the blog’s existence.

We also intentionally don’t have a lot of overhead costs. We’ve never had assistants, full-time or part-time employees. Overall, I mention this fact in case in case it inspires your dreams but also to keep you firmly rooted in reality. Simply put – the sole reason we’ve been able to get to this phase is nearly two decades of hard work, sacrifice, and focus. It hasn’t come easy, and the road hasn’t always been smooth.

Above all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned – success often isn’t about short-term wins or splurges but more about a commitment to a long journey for just one thing. For us, it’s always been about finding a meaningful way to show our family and friends that we love them.

They are our priority. They’ve always been, and they always will be.

Style Charade Lake Home

Where is the Lake Home?

Okay, so what can I tell you about the lake home?! Well first off, it’s in Wisconsin. During our search, we kept an open mind for properties in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In truth, we found a lot of phenomenal options in Michigan. If you’re looking for a space and flexible on location, I honestly think that state has the best inventory.

However, it didn’t feel right going with Michigan since both our families are based in Illinois or Wisconsin. Therefore, we are thrilled it’s located in America’s Dairyland. 🙂 Also, it’s a reasonable drive from our home in Chicago.

Also, the place is a major fixer-upper. Nearly every aspect needs to be updated or changed – pretty much down to the studs.

Midwest Waterfront Homes

Most Midwest waterfront homes are extremely expensive. Plus, in this competitive market, nearly all of the inventory was out of our price range. As we started the search, it quickly became clear our best option was to find something small, somewhat outdated, but also a place with very good bones. Be sure to read our lake home criteria blog post for more on this topic.

While we’ve saved for many years, let me be clear – we’re not crazy affluent. I often joke we didn’t major in “inheritance” in college. However, we’ve worked hard and saved, saved, saved. Over time… we’ve cobbled our way to find a decent investment for a small lake home.

Search for a Lake Home

The search took YEARS. Yes, years. Mostly due to our budget and the hot market. Looking back, 2020 would have been the time to strike while the iron was hot. Home values were reasonable, interest rates were solid, but we just didn’t feel comfortable (nor did we find an option).

Plus, as I mentioned in this blog post, the real estate homes market is NUTS… but especially lake homes. We paced ourselves in this process, and that’s what made the decision easy once we found a space we loved.

As I mentioned above, every single element needs to be change. Sure, the space has its charms, but so many parts of it need updating. It came complete with a 1990’s outdated kitchen and bathrooms that would make your mind spin.

Style Charade Lake Home – In Closing

Stay tuned for SO much more content as we transform the space. We’ve tapped Amelia Canham Eaton for interior design and Massey & Associates for architecture. Bill Massey, founder of Massey & Associates, was a recommendation of Amelia and WOW. Friends, WOW. I’ve been so over the top impressed with him and his team. Yes, we’re in early stages, but they have been our secret weapon in this process.

If you’ve been thinking about a home renovation, look no further. Trust. I will forever give them my best recommendation, and I can’t wait to see what they dream up with us!

Amelia has designed our primary home so she’s a frequent name on this blog, of course. Love her and couldn’t say enough wonderful things.

More to come!

Leave a comment

View All 7 Comments

  1. g
    grace wrote:


    Published 5.30.22 · Leave a Reply
  2. A
    Alejandra Campos wrote:

    Awesome news!! This looks soooo dreamy
    Mega Congrats

    Published 5.30.22 · Leave a Reply
  3. L
    Laura wrote:

    Congratulations! I’m so glad you held out for what you wanted and am looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. Also, I just read re-read your 10-Year Wedding Anniversary post (true love!) and have a quick question! After your first date at the French restaurant, how long did you date before he proposed? Your love story is one of my faves!

    Published 6.4.22 · Leave a Reply
    • J

      So sweet of you to say! Since we started dating in our early 30s, we weren’t in a total rush to get married, so we waited a few years. We both knew pretty quicky that each other was “the one” 🙂

      Published 6.13.22 · Leave a Reply
  4. R
    Rebecca Dexter wrote:

    So very excited for you…we honeymooned in Rhinelander 57 years ago and always thought we would end up the Eagle River area…that didn’t happen. However, we took a trip with friends to Door County and decided that it was closer for a weekend than Eagle River so we bought a cottage…a super fixer upper. Fell in love with the County and ended up moving here full time 30 years ago. No regrets. I did get a quarter board from Nantucket for our home overlooking the Bay of Green Bay…”Dogwoods” for our 2 Labs. Wisconsin rocks! And this is from a girl who grew up in Highland Park. Enjoy every second of your journey! Congratulations!!!

    Published 6.4.22 · Leave a Reply


Sign up to receive Jenn's weekly newsletter, filled with exclusive content, sale alerts, and more behind the scenes charades!