Published: March 3, 2014

At first glance, the sprawling residence of Greg and Teresa Kroh on Syracuse Lake does not bring to mind a quaint "lake cottage." But a closer look at the exquisite craftsmanship, thoughtful design elements and architectural integrity prove that this 4,500-square-foot home is every bit as homey as the original structure.

What began as a single-story, two bedroom, one-bath lake cottage from the 1950's has undergone major reconstruction to evolve into the beautiful, modern-day family lake home that stands today. The Kroh's bought the property in 2004, and called upon the talents of John Gradle of Milestone Construction in Syracuse, IN. The company planned the project from design through the tear-down in 2009, beginning construction in December of that year. The Krohs were ready to move in at the end of the summer, Labor Day of 2010. The home's beginnings as a fairly modest 1,900-square-foot dwelling with smaller rooms held plenty of potential to Greg and Teresa. Their initial vision was "to create a lake home to retire to," Greg says. They wanted a place that would have room for their three children to visit now, and later "for when grandchildren start coming [along]," he says with a smile. Both Greg and Teresa wanted a "real cottage feel," with ample windows for the great views of Syracuse, and a more open floor plan. Milestone Construction definitely achieved that and "developed that [feeling] for us," Greg continues. He maintains that the company delivered a terrific product with a great experience, and they were "exceptional to work with" during the five-month planning phase. And it didn't hurt that Greg himself works in the construction business. Armed with an understanding of the process and background knowledge of the industry gave the Krohs a jump-start on the project.

Indeed, the goal to preserve the cottage feel, with a modern yet timeless design, has been achieved without a doubt. The main floor's walnut floors give warmth to the downstairs, and the beautiful, heavy wood doors are substantially dramatic but welcoming at the same time. Rich cherry and dark walnut cabinetry offers a classic elegance that still fits into lake living, and complements the island with a walnut top. But a unique feature that really stands out is the cherry and maple bar countertop in the dining area, custom built to resemble the smooth finish of a Chris-Craft boat-an ideal fit for a lake home on Syracuse.

Most of the home features wainscot with carefully crafted details, providing an elegant look that blends beautifully with all the other dark wood finishes. The sturdy front door to the home is framed by a custom-built archway with glass details and trimmed in white. It opens up into a gorgeous entryway and stair, welcoming visitors into the cozy yet elegant living area next to the kitchen-one of the couple's favorite rooms. And it's to see why. The lighter-colored granite countertops and rich wood cabinets of the wide, open kitchen are simply gorgeous, and the fact that the cabinets are stained (not painted as in many lake homes) is a feature unique in itself. Stylish yet comfortable barstools surround the main kitchen island's counter, inviting quests to a common place of gathering, where the Krohs can be found frequently cooking and entertaining.

Just off the dining room is a spectacular sunroom with rich wood floors-a room Teresa loves to spend time in, taking in the view of the lake. The sunroom has a rich, dark wood ceiling that complements the flooring and glows in the sunlight.

Another feature of the Kroh's home is use of stone in both the chimney and the path leading down to the lake. The multicolored natural stones add another textural element to two things that could have been rather plain. Instead, there is a cobblestone effect, adding yet another dimension to the design.

The exterior of the home is lovely blue-gray siding with shake accents, which complement the shimmering lake as well as the stones in the chimney. The classing white trim gives a clean look and frames the structure beautifully, as do the arts-and-crafts pillars with stone bases.

The Kroh's love for entertaining reveals itself in the upstairs, where a game room with a pool table and shuffleboard are ready for guests to play. Additional living space provides plenty of room for big get-togethers and when the kids bring friends over. The four bedrooms upstairs are ideal for friends and family, too. Overlooking the lake are the master bedroom and spacious master bath, with gorgeous tile work, as well as the guest suite. The guest suite features a covered balcony, too-a specialty of Milestone.

The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home took about five months in the initial planning phase before any work began. But it was worth the wait, as Milestone created an ideal place for the entire family. Each has their own space in addition to the community gathering areas. Besides the amazing kitchen, Greg has another special place within the home: a downstairs den he has dubbed "my man cave," he laughs. "Where [Teresa] can shut the door."

The Krohs plan to retire to the home on a full-time basis in about five years. And it's no wonder why the Krohs want to be in such a beautiful place more often. Greg's dad being from Syracuse and his mother's ties to Wawasee (and the old Johnson Hotel) made it an easy choice for Greg and Teresa to build their dream lake home here. A fifth generation laker, Greg found it equally easy to convince his wife and children to love the water as much as he. A great place for family and friends to visit, the Kroh's lake cottage on Syracuse is more than a lake house-it is truly a home.

And that's something to Kroh about.

by: Deborah Gerbers


Take a look around the lakes of our region and chances are you will see gorgeous homes built by Milestone Construction, Inc. of Syracuse, Ind. The company was established in 1989, from "very small" beginnings in South Bend, according to company president John Gradle, who shares company ownership with fellow founder and secretary/treasurer John Kolton, and Les Hamell, general superintendent.

Living in Syracuse allows Gradle to work on homes in the surrounding area lakes primarily focused on high-end, custom built properties. Gradle says his engineering background is a plus when fulfilling the needs of his clients. His company is known for unique remodels and custom designs, and emphasizes that Milestone Construction is a "one-stop shop" in terms of the construction/remodeling process.

In order to have a successful project, it is important to build a professional relationship with each client and provide them with a team-type situation where each person involved plays an integral role. From the beginning through the end products, Milestone Construction places attention and detailed focus on each residential custom home. It starts with the concept, then continues to develop the design, and follows through with the actual construction, bringing to life the vision of both the designers and the homeowners.

Gradle says some trends he sees in remodels for lake residents are high-end materials in custom-created cabinetry, as well as countertops made of granite, soapstone and marble, and everything seems to have a "traditional lake" feel and cottage style. He also notes that clients are opting for hand-scraped floors, and some are made from reclaimed white oak. Wood walls and unique trim details are also popular, as well as knotty pine accents and knotty alder cabinets.

Milestone Construction is known for its superior customer relationships and client satisfaction. When working on the Syracuse Lake home of Greg and Teresa, the builder wanted to bring in design elements from the mountainous western landscape, blending into a cottage/mountain scheme. The Kroh home has substantial, high-quality wood doors, in addition to other special details, like the room-length bar made to look like the polished finish of a Chris-Craft boat-perfect for a beautiful home on the water. The Krohs guest suite also boasts a covered balcony, an architectural detail for which Milestone is known.

By: Deborah Gerbers