Beachy Keen

Froze Design Build turns a water-devastated home into a lake-living dream.

“I love modern, but I’m more conservative so I like the traditional look because it overlooks the lake. I wanted something very beachy,” says homeowner Sally Zale of her initial design concept. Zale worked happily with Froze Design Build to marry modern with upscale lake home in this Lac La Belle property.


Most homeowners install security cameras in their homes with the hopes of never having to see anything they don’t like on them. Unfortunately, for these Lac La Belle homeowners, those cameras alerted them to unimaginably bad news.

“We had broken pipes a year ago exactly when it was really cold,” homeowner Sally Zale explains of the unexpected destruction. “We were out of town at the time … and we had [Nest] cameras so we saw the pictures when the cameras went offline. We were alerted and my husband looked at the pictures and he said, ‘Oh my gosh. We either have a fire or a flood.’ Because all the drywall was collapsing.”

The couple immediately called Paul Davis Restoration, who arrived at the house within two hours, then contacted family in the area who came to turn off water and prevent further damage. But at that point, the worst had already occured.

“That water, running as long as it ran – and nobody knows exactly how long – destroyed the entire basement, all the ceilings, all the floors on the first floor, all the cabinets in the kitchen. Water is just really destructive,” Richard J. Froze, president of Froze Design Build, says of the destruction, adding that the electrical, appliances, window casings and floor joists all needed to be replaced.

About one year ago, frozen pipes in the kitchen destroyed everything in the Zales’ home, from carpeting to floor joists to window casings to the entire basement. Instead of dwelling on the misfortune, the Zales took the opportunity to turn the water-damaged home into their dream Hamptons-style lake home, adding a modern kitchen, extra windows for the gorgeous lake view and an entirely new basement.

The basement, needing complete gutting and repair, became a multipurpose retreat with the inclusion of two bedrooms, a wet bar, a fireplace and a man cave.

After coming to terms with the devastation, Zale says she took the extreme damage in stride and used it as an opportunity to rebuild the home into the lake home of their dreams.

“Now I can do what I want to do with the home,” she says. “And I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it. I knew what I liked, ideas I liked in magazines or seeing other homes, but it wasn’t until we really started working with Froze [and] getting ideas of aesthetics and styles that I really started getting excited about it.”

She presented Froze with a “Hamptons beach house” aesthetic, and he worked that into the up-and-coming “atomic ranch” design he says is making its way to Wisconsin from California.

“[The atomic ranch design concept is] something that’s ... really fun to do for us in terms of remodelers and designers because it’s taking the old stuff and putting it back in exactly the way it was,” Froze explains. Melding the two ideas together, the homeowners were very active in choosing final layouts, colors and materials used, a common partnership Froze encourages and one that Zale was incredibly grateful for.

“It was really great shopping for materials with them. Going and picking out the granite and the tile and all of those [materials], just because [Richard] was very helpful and leading us toward the direction that he knew my design aesthetic was, so I did really appreciate that about him,” she says.

Froze effortlessly married contemporary, midcentury modern and lake house elements, working with the Zales to pick out every material used to achieve their ideal look.

That “beach house meets atomic ranch” combination resulted in a stunningly sophisticated lake home, with a beautiful, brand-new kitchen, gorgeous picture windows, a renovated basement with two bedrooms, a “super bathroom” -— as Froze lovingly calls it — a wet bar and a relaxing man cave for Sally’s husband, Tom. The addition of a stone patio and fire pit offer a tranquil sitting area, perfect for taking in the 350 feet of accessible shoreline and breathtaking views.

Zale says the sole hiccup occured when Froze, with strong agreement from a painter, recommended painting the honey oak wood ceilings in the kitchen and living room with a gray wash to prevent the yellow tones from bleeding onto the carpet from the wood’s reflection. “I was very uncomfortable initially,” she confesses of their original conversation. “Once it was done and the carpet was installed, that really … gives it a more beachy feel. I mean, it’s beautiful. … I really did appreciate [the convincing].”

As for Froze, he enjoyed the healthy mix of direction and freedom the Zales provided him, which led to an adventurous design process and a satisfying outcome. 

“They allowed us to excel at something for them in their home, and they ended up absolutely loving it,” he says. MKE