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Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
Design

How The Lake House on Canandaigua Came to Anchor its Finger Lake

By Eliza Jordan

April 11, 2022

Just a few hours north of New York City is the Finger Lake region, notably known for its award-winning wineries and relaxing lakeside towns. Upstate, all eleven of the area’s Finger Lakes narrowly run from south to north, offering different flavors of local fare and lifestyle—from hand-harvested grapes and unique cheeses to wellness destinations. On Canandaigua Lake, locals and visitors alike know of an expertly-designed hospitality hotspot that offers it all named The Lake House on Canandaigua, yet few know of its storied past and deep ties to the community. 

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

Perhaps it is because The Lake House on Canandaigua has taken nearly three decades to perfect. In 1994, a local family purchased an old motor inn named The Inn on the Lake (established in 1970), later reimagining the land to reflect its welcoming community, its new visitors, and global contemporary design. Two of the family members, Lyndsay Caleo Karol and her brother Bill Caleo, co-founded an interior design firm named The Brooklyn Home Company (TBHCo), then took the hotel on as its first project. 

“I grew up on Canandaigua Lake with my brother, so the Finger Lakes region has always been home,” she said. “We’ve always dreamed of a new hotel that reflected our appreciation for the natural beauty of the area, with the goal to place the Finger Lakes on the map. We wanted the property to be design-forward, bringing a new traveler to the region while also feeling comfortable and welcoming.”

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

For the space, the family-run firm collaborated with its team of architects, designers, artists, and developers—including Caleo Karol’s husband, Fitzhugh Karol, who runs its artist-in-residence program to create bespoke art and design objects—to execute a vision of elegance and ease in collaboration with Post Company. Upon entering the hotel’s main lobby, guests are soothed by white shiplap walls, wooden tables, plush seating arrangements, nautical art, large lighting sculptures, and more. 

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

Further, a dimly-lit navy library by a fireplace is anchored by a sturdy bar, tables topped with board games, leather sofas, and cozy nooks perfectly situated for an afternoon of reading. Its restaurant, the Rose Tavern, stays aesthetically cohesive while providing ample natural light through large windows, deep booths, a large bar, and an open kitchen run by Chef Steve Eakins. Attached is its primarily seasonal Sand Bar, featuring wooden tables, seafood fare, casual bar bites, and drinks under a boat hung upside down.

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Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

For its 124 guest rooms and suites, which span three levels and two buildings, cream interiors are dappled by the sun reflected off of the lake, complemented by wooden floors, hand-woven bedspreads, natural fiber rugs, and custom wood bed frames. For some, a private terrace with expansive lakeside views awaits. 

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Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

Outside, a timber frame event barn boasts an unforgettable space perfect for occasions, like weddings, birthdays, reunions, and more. And down a short winding path, Willowbrook Spa welcomes visitors to facial and massage treatments created in collaboration with TLee Spas and Born Bathing to promote wellness, as well as private outdoor sauna vestibules. Other amenities on the property—including a pool, jacuzzi, pier, and firepits—encourage guests to unwind, relax, and enjoy the view.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

Ahead of Canandaigua Lake’s popular summer season, Whitewall spoke with the designers and directors behind The Lake House on Canandaigua to learn more about the special details and amenities found at its hotel and spa.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WHITEWALL: How did TBHCo approach The Lake House on Canandaigua’s re-design?

LYNDSAY CALEO KAROL: As The Brooklyn Home Company’s first hotel undertaking, The Lake House on Canandaigua was the most fitting location to make our mark in hospitality. Growing up, every summer was spent on the lake, so we wanted to create a high-design gathering space meant for making memories and somewhere that guests feel like they’re coming home. The design is influenced by our childhood memories on the lake, complete with a palette of white and wood and furniture such as director’s chairs, foldaway cots, French cocktail tables, and campaign desks.

WW: TBHC designed the property in collaboration with Ruben Caldwell of Post Company. What was that like, especially given Caldwell’s informed and diverse design background?

LCK: The collaboration with Post Company was a natural fit, as we’ve always been fans of their aesthetic. We admired their mix of old-world materials and modern finishes used at Scribner’s Lodge in the Catskills since it’s similar to our approach at The Brooklyn Home Company. We shared the same vision of creating a home-like feel for a hotel.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Throughout the space, there is a mix of old and new, found and commissioned, and local and global design pieces. Can you give us an example of a room that focuses on this juxtaposition for a unique feel?

LCK: The Library Bar, tucked away from the lobby, is a guest favorite. The space is calming, evoking an innate feeling of tradition with its deep navy walls, a communal wooden table and leather sofas. The room is centered by a fireplace and contemporary artwork from Tappan Collective.

WW: The Lake House features an array of welcoming spaces to dine, relax, eat, and gather in. What’s your favorite on the property?

LCK: It’s hard to choose a single spot! I recently hosted an intimate candlelit dinner party in the library, and I am addicted to the yoga classes held on the porch, but I’m equally content sitting in an Adirondack chair, looking out at the lake around a fire. The Lake House is a place to slow down and relax with the people I love most.

WW: What do you like to do in the Finger Lakes when you’re not at the property?

LCK: Hiking the gorges is magical and going to Abbott’s, a local frozen custard shop. Neither should be missed!

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Fitzhugh, you’re the firm’s artist-in-residence, creating hand-crafted pieces for properties. Which pieces are seen in the hotel that you’ve created?

FITZHUGH KAROL: My involvement design-wise was creating specific pieces that made a large visual impact. The carved four-poster beds in the guest rooms are the main standout feature, based on a bed I had carved from a beech tree for my own house—a Brancusi-like endless column shape. For the hotel, we played with them being a little more asymmetrical and made shorter posts so they wouldn’t dominate the space. The suites also have carved fireplace mantelpieces for some added warmth.

When you first enter the lobby, you’re greeted with an eye-catching reception desk made from a stack of dried willow trees. The process of making that was interesting and challenging, as we had to find a business that could dry these massive willow tree pieces. They used a microwave kiln that dries the wood from the inside out, so it was fun to stretch the limits of what was possible.

Another big sculptural element and a personal favorite of mine is the chandelier in the lobby, which is meant to dominate the space as it’s made up of huge linear shapes and individual lines interacting with each other. There’s a combination of step shapes with circle and saddle shapes, joining arcs that reappear in a lot of my work.

In the front of the property are two large ​​steel sculptures that were originally displayed in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. When it came time to remove them, I liked the weathered appearance they had as well as the smaller shapes they made when we took them apart. So I reworked them into these two sculptures on the lawn here that announce the personality of The Lake House on Canandaigua when you arrive.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: The Lake House features an array of welcoming spaces to dine, relax, eat, and gather in. What’s your favorite on the property?

FK: The lobby is the heart of the hotel and it represents our design ethos. From the view out to the lake to the handmade furniture and lighting, it’s where you’re first welcomed into the lake house environment.

WW: What do you like to do in the Finger Lakes when you’re not at the property?

FK: Any activities out on the water or sourcing timber materials for sculpture and furniture projects.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Victoria, as the director of Willowbrook Spa, what kind of atmosphere or activations did you envision taking place?

VICTORIA LINDSAY: A sense of home and comfort. We want it to feel as natural as sitting in your own home. Our technologies, devices, and treatments are new to this area and exclusive and results-driven. We want to create a wellness sanctuary for guests who really want to experience growth in their well-being. The future of the Willowbrook Spa will be the premier destination for wellness travelers in western and upstate New York.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Can you tell us about the Willowbrook Spa, and what's special here?

VL: Canandaigua literally translates to "the chosen spot." Our location and view of the history-filled Skenoh Island in the sauna barrels are unlike any spa in the area. The curated and customized menu showcases our skilled technicians and therapists as your personal wellness guides. The future of Spas around the world is to step out of the static menu and stereotypical day spa with pretty smells. We hope the Willowbrook Spa will have an indelible mark on our guests.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Churchill, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Which treatments would you recommend?

VL: Deep Sleep: 90-minute full-body CBD massage with an amethyst biomat followed by a sleep tea in the sunroom; Sauna Ritual: 60-minute contrast bathing experience with a house-made honey face masque that is edible, circulation spray you get to take home with you in our custom cedar barrels, and end it with a tincture.

WW: What do you hope guests get out of their experience at the spa?

VL: A full wellness clinic. We want to not only provide amazing and results-driven treatments, but we also want to educate our guests about achieving full mind, body, and spirit wellness they can continue in their daily lives even after they leave us and to learn you cannot pour from an empty vessel. Take care of yourself.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Ruben, you collaboratively designed The Lake House with your firm, Post Company. What does the company focus on providing regardless of the project?

RUBEN CALDWELL: Post Company believes that design lives at the intersection of beauty, elegance, and utility. Post Company is an award-winning, multidisciplinary design firm that works across hospitality, retail, and residential typologies. Founded in 2012, and led by partners Jou-Yie Chou, Leigh Salem, and myself, Post Company crafts environments that are simultaneously comprehensive in their approach and exacting in their detail.

With a team comprised of architects, interior designers, carpenters, art directors, and graphic designers, the firm is an amalgam of disciplines that combine to make spaces that reflect an expansive and unified holistic expression. That manifestation is the result of a process that involves Post Company’s wholesale investment in every aspect of a project – from the most elemental feel of a space to its first happy gathering.  This foundational exploration considers a broad range of outcomes that are edited and honed into a cohesive narrative that is singular to the project’s location, environment, and operational needs. This understanding of the "why" of every project helps Post Company make spaces that will endure and evolve, with an eye toward design that transcends the moment.

This immersive methodology, along with the firm’s intense understanding of design and construction, love for materials, and deep knowledge of architectural history, is combined with their irreverence, to create a uniquely Post Company project. Ultimately, Post Company sees design as an enabler of experience, rather than the singular protagonist of any space. Great design is universally applicable and broadly accessible; as such, Post Company pushes to expand design beyond luxury and exclusivity and toward a broad exploration of human interaction.

Beyond the culture of its projects, Post Company takes great care to craft a studio culture that is meaningful and fulfilling. The firm utilizes a four-day workweek to improve the work-life balance for its staff and partners. Post Company is proud to join a range of companies certified by Climate Neutral through a commitment to entirely offset its carbon footprint. Through their partnership with 1% for the Planet, Post Company is committing one percent of annual revenues to support the organizations leading the fight against environmental degradation.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: Can you tell us a bit about collaboratively working on the design for The Lake House on Canandaigua with The Brooklyn Home Company?

RC: We had a fantastic collaboration throughout the process. TBHCo brings a true appreciation of artistry and craft. Their personal and family histories in Canandaigua provided insight and depth to the design and greater narrative of the place and property. As a studio, Post Company prides itself on building narratives and experiences greater than the sum of its parts. We have a deep respect for other designers and approaches. Through the act of collaboration, we broaden our views, and we hope we leave the same outcome on those with whom we collaborate.

The goal of our work on the Lake House was to craft a story about an enduring tradition, to, in effect, create a sense that now and for years to come this place could have existed in your past, in some distant happy memory.  It was a project at once rooted in nostalgia, while also eyeing the future.  Working with Brooklyn Home was critical in helping us to find that balance. 

Our initial efforts imagined a place frozen in a specific and yet unknown time, where a guest would apply their own memories, their own sense of self, and perhaps ultimately discover a feeling of comfort and home.  With Brooklyn Home’s input, the project began to evolve more toward a future place in which new memories are made and new traditions are forged.  This collaborative tension is what made the project great. 

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.

WW: You have a background in carpentry, architecture, and preservation. Did that impact your approach to the architectural design for this space?

RC: I would say that the part of my background that most informed this project has nothing to do with architecture, design, preservation, or construction.  I grew up in Bolton Landing, NY, spending summers at a lake house surrounded by friends, family, distant cousins, and all of their stories.  With The Lake House we wanted to build a place that we would have loved as kids, would speak to us as adults, and that we could aspire to as we age.  This is a place that I personally know very well.

Before architecture school, I was a carpenter and timber framer for many years.  This experience certainly directly informed the Sand Bar and the event barn.  With the former, the intent was to create a structure that looked as though it may have been assembled from materials on hand, reminiscent of the informal boathouses that dot the surrounding lakes.  The event barn is an exercise in precise engineering, materiality, and the creation of a detuned grandeur, all things present in the structure’s many local antecedents.      

As a studio, we are committed to mining architectural history in terms of both style and construction.  The Lake House uses a range of ideas and inspirations, from Greek revival architecture to utilitarian boathouses to the heroic spans of the timber-framed barns of Upstate New York. It was important to us that the property presents a range of spaces that varied in feel and program.  This is important to provide variation to guests while also showcasing the rich architectural history of the region. This was not a restoration project, however.  Each point of departure was just a start, then filtered and considered through a contemporary lens and with a dash of informed irreverence.

Open Gallery

Photo by Chris Mottalini, courtesy of The Lake House on Canandaigua.
CanandaiguadesignFinger Lakesinterior designthe brooklyn home companyThe Lake House on Canandaigua

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