House on Lake Okoboji / Min | Day

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

Architects: Min | Day – E.B. Min, Jeffrey L. Day.
Location: West Lake Okoboji, , United States
Project team: Nicholas Papaefthimiou, Kristine Mummert, Matt Cavin, Christina Kaneva, Jeff Davis, Matt Goldsberry
Client: Paul & Annette Smith
Landscape design: Min | Day
Lighting Design: HLB Lighting Design / Min | Day
Size: 6000 square feet
Year: 2008
Photographs: Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

“It’s all about the lake,” was our clients’ direction when we began designing this vacation home in rural Iowa.

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

Located in rural Iowa, Lake Okoboji is a part of a glacial lake system surprisingly located amidst endless cornfields, 2.5 hours from the nearest metropolitan area. The house sits on a diminutive lot on the dense shoreline where old cottages and new McMansions sit tightly together. Our strategy resulted in a deceptively simple footprint that minimized the size of the house on the site while allowing for a series of spatial frames within the house that focus on the view while excluding the neighbors. This allowed for a sense of total privacy within the house itself. Additionally, the lake itself is ringed by numerous oak trees which form beautiful a canopy around the lake, separating it from the corn fields.

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

Volumetrically simple from the exterior, opaque and slatted vertical Ipe clads a stacked set of spatial tubes (the primary living spaces) that are open to the lake and woods views, but visually closed to neighbors on the sides. We formed the house’s spatial tubes around view axes running through the site, perceptually linking the lake through the forest to the fields beyond. These view-framing tubes are literal voids in the mass of the house bounded at their ends only by glass. Light and air also enters these rooms through operable windows set behind the slatted Ipe cladding. Dense service spaces (“program solids”) fill the remaining volume.

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

The first level is dominated by continuous subtly amorphous space that opens to the exterior in with lake views in several directions. This space bounds the primary living spaces while suggesting connections and extensions to the surrounding landscape, lake and sky.

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

In contrast to the spatial tubes of the public areas, the smaller private spaces (bedrooms and bathrooms) are treated with a pronounced sense of interiority. As spaces become increasingly intimate, the intensity of color increases as well. All interior surfaces in these rooms are subsumed by intense color to the extent that each feels like a zone of pure color.Here color becomes equivalent to the Lake that dominates the spatial tubes, providing and autonomous interiority in contrast to the site-oriented “tubes”. Color becomes an important tool of space making, an additional layer that can reinforce or contradict the other components of spatial geometry, intensifying the experience or adding complexity.

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

In addition to the house and site, we were also responsible for all furniture, fabrics and finishes in the house. We selected and supplied most of the furniture, designed window coverings and selected custom fabrics for many of the furniture selections. We designed and fabricated several feature tables for the house, including a custom, CNC-milled cabinet for the master bedroom.

Products in this project

Bathroom Equipment: Toto , Waterworks , Dornbracht, Kohler

  • Plumbing: Carlyle Toilet by Toto
  • Plumbing: Classic 2 tub by Waterworks
  • Plumbing: Meta 02 by Dornbracht
  • Plumbing: Ladena sink by Kohler
  • Plumbing: Classic 1 tub by Waterworks
  • Plumbing: Tara Classic by Dornbracht

Construction materials, Semi-finished materials: Ohio Gratings

  • Painted metal bar grating (Ohio Gratings 19-DT4) by Ohio Gratings

Facades: PPG, Ipe

  • Siding: 090 aluminum with Duranar finish by PPG
  • Siding: Custom-Milled vertical siding (FSC certified) by Ipe

Floor: Scofield, ACTIVA

  • Integral colored radiant concrete (Winter Beige) by Scofield
  • PRF Activa rubber floor (solid U-21); by ACTIVA

Furniture: Knoll, Humanscale, Ligne Roset, Vitra, Herman Miller , Abet Laminati

  • Womb Chair and Ottoman by Knoll
  • Liberty Chair by Humanscale
  • 54" Saarinen Table by Knoll
  • Saarinen 54" round table by Knoll
  • Togo sofa sectional by Ligne Roset
  • Cineline bed by Ligne Roset
  • MVS dining chair .03 by Vitra
  • Saarinen side tables by Knoll
  • Everynight Cube by Ligne Roset
  • Nelson Swag Armchair by Herman Miller
  • Eames Aluminum Management Chair by Herman Miller
  • MVS chaise .06 by Vitra
  • Pam barstool by Ligne Roset
  • Cabinets: plastic laminate by Abet Laminati
  • Lumeo writing table by Ligne Roset

Joinery: US Aluminum, Lutron, Supersky

  • Entrance Doors by US Aluminum
  • Windows: 7200 by US Aluminum
  • Shades: Sivoia QED by Lutron
  • Skylight by Supersky
  • Windows: 7500 by US Aluminum
  • Windows: 2100/2200 by US Aluminum

Kitchen Equipment: Elkay, Blanco

  • Plumbing: Integral sinks by Elkay
  • Plumbing: utility sink by Blanco

Lighting, Heating, Home/building automation: BK Lighting, Flos, Zumptobel, WIlliams, Lutron, Bega, Lucifer Lighting Co., Boyd, RSA Lighting

  • Lightning by BK Lighting
  • Globe Floor Lamp by Flos
  • Lightning by Zumptobel
  • Lightning by WIlliams
  • Lightning by Lutron
  • Lightning by Bega
  • Lightning by Lucifer Lighting Co.
  • Lightning by Boyd
  • Lightning by RSA Lighting

Mobile Partitions/Suspended Ceilings/Raised Floors: 3form, GALLINA, Bendheim

  • Chroma Eco Resin by 3form
  • Polycarbonate panels by GALLINA
  • Backpainted glass by Bendheim

Walls: Benjamin Moore

  • Paint by Benjamin Moore
Cite: "House on Lake Okoboji / Min | Day" 20 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • eili

    simply beautiful from the outside – but i can´t stand the flake board solution combined with the carpet in the living area.
    this is 2 much 4 my eyes.
    apart from that, these wooden flake boards emit stuff like formaldehyde etc. when not specially treated..

    • Jeff

      Note: The OSB (“flake board”) used in this house is formaldehyde-free. It is not specially coated but free of VOC in the first place.

      • eili

        wasn´t sure if it´s called OSB in the u.s. as well, as i´m from europe..
        i didn´t want to offend the work – i myself thought of a OSB flooring in my rooms some time ago.
        what i wanted to say is that people often use this stuff as cheap “wooden floor” not beeing aware that most of these products do emit formaldehyde.
        but there are also pricier categories without these emmissions – as yours..
        finally, to me osb panels used as walls & floor have kind of “unfinished” athmo. but thats just my opinion.
        i love when people create amazing stuff without wasting huge amounts of money, using cheap but good materials like multiplex wood panels, concrete etc..
        thumbs up !!!

  • pi

    it`s really beatiful..simple and perfectly connected with the surrounding..i would like to live there :)

  • amj


  • Tom

    Good the new mobile ui! Congratulation!

  • wpgmb

    i seem to like the interior more than the exterior. maybe because of all that flakeboard.

  • ygogolak

    Now this is what Min|Day is capable of. Much better than the directors residence.

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  • Teo

    B E A U T I F U L!
    Except for that flake board and the carpet, it’s an eyesore.

  • twilliams

    Absolutely amazing house! Who would have thought Okoboji would be on archdaily.

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  • Rwhoutx

    Gorgeous except for (in my opinion only) the osb inside. I also think the interior, while visually stunning, may be too sophisticated for a lake house; the client said it was all about the lake, but I cannot envision kids, wet from swimming all day, dragging themselves, their buddies and some sticks that they found up to that gorgeous room, and then, laying it all on the table in order to build a fort for the frogs that they found…

  • kaos

    well done, i like the osb-walls

  • Home Decor News

    Beautiful house, I can’t wait to share this with the community. I especially love the wall of windows it reminds me of my mother’s house. In my opinion, it is crucial to have many windows on the lake front homes since the view is priceless and should not be wasted.

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  • olesja

    It reminds me of Louis Kahn’s Fisher House. Much more modern though. Well done.

  • helios AD

    absolutely brilliant! great sense of materiality

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