Escape to the Lake

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Tucked into a hillside overlooking Missouri’s scenic Table Rock Lake, this contemporary dwelling embodies a rustic modern aesthetic that integrates seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. 

Story by Jeanne de Lathouder    |    Photography by Matt Kocourek

Chosen for its spectacular sunsets and panoramic lakefront views, this extraordinary property became the sweet spot for a Kansas City couple looking to build the ultimate lake escape. Drawn to the Table Rock Lake area nearly every year for the past two decades, the two of them fell in love with the landscape — especially the waterfront.

“My wife and I wanted to establish a home for our combined family that we could all come to — along with our friends,” says the homeowner. “We looked at about five lots around various parts of the lake, but this one had the best views by far. When we sit in our firepit area, we feel like the entire lake and surrounding hills are part of our private backyard,” he adds. 

After purchasing the lot in September 2018, they started construction in April 2019. Partnering with Matthew Lero, principal at RDM Architecture in Kansas City, and Tom and T.J. Schaeffer of Schaeffer-Mitchell Construction in Branson West, MO, the team chose a mix of rustic contemporary and mid-century modern architecture and a transitional interior design that was heavy on stone, wood, concrete, and glass paired with warm accent features. The lot sits on Joe Bald Mountain at a 30-degree slope, an angle that was challenging to build on. The home’s design takes all of this into account and flows down the hill without too much of a drop-off at the lower level. The interiors had to include plenty of space, multiple bedrooms, and lots of fun areas for relaxing — all of them offering views of the lake, given the gorgeous setting.

“This is the direction we gave to our architects, and it drove almost every single decision for the rest of the project,” the homeowner recalls. “It truly shows in the final product. Even though we wanted plenty of space — it’s 5,500 square feet with five bedrooms and 3 ½ baths — we didn’t want it to feel too big or too impersonal,” he adds. 

“We had a couple of goals from the outset,” says Matthew, the lead architect on the project. “The first was to try and tuck the house into the hillside as much as possible. The second was to highlight the view of the lake as you enter the site, as well as the home itself. By blending the house into the hillside, you see over the roof to the lake as you first drive up,” he notes. 

A third goal was to create a contemporary space that still exudes comfort for the homeowners. Having previously worked with them on the remodel of their house in Kansas City, Matthew and his team had an excellent feel for the style they were looking for — contemporary but with a rustic, relaxed vibe. This was best illustrated in the material selections. Natural materials — stamped and stained concrete, stone, wood, and steel inside and out — helped soften the contemporary forms and massing of the overall structure. 

“Selection of materials is especially important for a lake house, as you don’t want to be spending your vacation time doing maintenance,” Matthew explains. “Natural stone was used throughout, as well as stucco, which requires little to no maintenance. For the siding, we selected a prefinished wood with a very durable semi-transparent stain that had the look we wanted without the constant upkeep,” he sums.

The front of the house is accessible over a bridge connecting an upper parking area to the top floor of the house. This level includes a large upper porch, an office, and a loft living space that looks out over the kitchen, family room, and dining area. When you first enter the house, you walk into the loft area and are immediately greeted with an incredible view of the lake via 28-foot ceilings and spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows. You descend from the loft on a magnificent staircase featuring reclaimed wood stair treads that were custom milled, sanded, and stained to befit the natural beauty of the house. Dramatically backlit at the foot of the stairs is a stunning replica of Table Rock Lake the homeowners commissioned to be rendered from carbon steel. A massive floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace complements the dynamic aesthetic.

“Our decorator, Cindy Love, from Springfield, MO, did a great job conveying the feel of the lake in all her designs,” says the homeowner. “The waterfall quartz countertop in the kitchen resembles the surrounding bluffs, and the overall color scheme matches the natural earth tones and warm hues seen throughout the landscape. Our entire color palette started with the living room rug, and the other rooms just evolved from there,” he adds. “At one point, Cindy had the entire house — including tile, fabric, wood, stone, fabric swatches, paint, wallpaper, and rug samples — laid out on a huge table to show how they all blended perfectly.”

Just off the kitchen, the sunroom is the homeowners’ favorite spot in the house. The perfect place for their morning cup of coffee, the space is luxuriously comfy and warmly inviting. A large deck wraps around the entire back of the house and is accessible from all the first-floor bedrooms, including a guest room, a bunk room, and the master bedroom. A serene private oasis for the homeowners, the master showcases a rustic wall made from Southern Missouri reclaimed wood. This room, the living room, and the office all feature stained white oak–encased steel beams that provide the frame for the windows. 

Downstairs, two more guest rooms offer guests a private sanctuary and a large yet cozy family area with an off-center fireplace that encompasses most of the wall. Both the exterior patio and lower level incorporate dyed, stamped concrete that makes the outdoor and indoor areas flow seamlessly. The stamped floors downstairs were one of the first things completed after the foundation was poured. 

The steepness of the site meant that the lower level still had fantastic views of the lake and incredible outdoor spaces. The only downside was that the long hallway along the back was entirely devoid of natural light. The 12-foot ceilings left plenty of room to add transom windows above all the doors to the hallway, which helped a great deal. The other resolution to that challenge is one of Matthew’s favorite details of the project — an idea he considers one of the most unique design solutions they came up with.

“Years ago, we worked with a client who wanted us to design an exterior deck with a glass floor,” says the architect. “Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be a little bit impractical and a lot more expensive than you might imagine. As a result, we had these glass floor samples lying around the office, and during a meeting, I brought them out and asked the homeowners how they’d feel if we put skylights in the floor of their hallway above. Being the amazing clients they are, they were game to do something a little bit different. Not only is it a very unexpected surprise walking down the hall upstairs or downstairs, but also it is highly effective in getting light down there. These glass floorlights are functional yet whimsical, and walking across them is a very cool — if not slightly disconcerting — experience,” he laughs.

The architectural icing on the cake is a dramatic butterfly roof that works exceptionally well for this style of home, as it adds visual impact and looks magnificent from both sides of the house. Upon completion, the home almost appeared to have two fronts, and the roof helps to successfully balance that in the design.

“The whole process was enjoyable,” says Matthew. “There was great communication between everyone involved, and it truly felt like we were working toward making this the best project it could be. A site that is so far from the office can be a challenge, but it went surprisingly smooth, and I think that is a credit to our fantastic clients and to the team that was involved,” he adds.

In June 2020, the homeowners moved in and began spending three to four days a week during the summer at their new lake home. Their kids love the water — wakeboarding and surfing behind their boat, fishing, swimming — and just relaxing inside, playing games, and visiting. Just as they imagined from the beginning, the couple loves to entertain family and friends there, and they are planning a long-awaited family reunion for their extended family this summer.

“The design process was absolutely a collaborative effort between my wife, myself, Matthew and his team of architects, our builders Tom and T.J. Schaeffer, and our interior designer, Cindy Love,” says the homeowner. “Each party contributed significantly, and everyone’s fingerprints are all over the finished product.”


  • Architect: RDM Architecture
  • Builder: Schaeffer-Mitchell Construction
  • Interior Designer: Cindy Love Interiors

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