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Lakeside Lark: A Summer Cottage on Boone Lake in Exeter

“In the beginning, I expect it did not even have running water or a bathroom. Perhaps an outhouse?”

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“In the beginning, I expect it did not even have running water or a bathroom. Perhaps an outhouse?” Audrey Lochiatto speculates about her Exeter home. Actually, the tiny cottage could barely be considered a home when she found it, in her opinion. “The house was not a house. It was about a 600-square-foot cottage with a very small attic.” But the humble home’s location spoke to Audrey. Perched just steps from the shore of Boone Lake, a nearly 50-acre spring feed lake dating back to the mid-1800s, the home offers serene surroundings amid the backdrop of the Arcadia Management Area, not to mention sensational sunsets which are enjoyed by west-facing positioning. Despite its unimpressive single bedroom, lone bathroom and unenviable efficiency-sized appliances (all this an “upgrade” from the original abode), the home’s place next to a poetry-worthy babbling brook sealed the deal for her. “I wanted waterfront,” explains Audrey, and it’s no wonder. Along with her family, Audrey spent the warm days of summer on New Hampshire’s magnificent Lake Winnipesauke. Those warm memories were a guiding force as she considered what she wanted for her own son. “I wanted my son to grow up with wonderful memories of swimming, boating, skiing and skating [just] as I had.”

The home was also a departure from the daily life the family had known previously. “It was close to my former husband’s home where we had a farm… it offered a getaway from the farm and farm chores,” Audrey explains. Boone Lake most definitely is a departure. The privately owned lake welcomes kayaks, canoes, rafts and floats, standup paddleboards and nearly every watercraft in-between, so long as the motors do not exceed 45 horsepower.

Though working mills existed there in the 19th century, the Boone Lake community of today began as a typical New England summer colony – humble homes surrounding the water that provided a seasonal escape for simple pleasures. Though some of the original 200 or so homes dating back to the 1940s still stand (and some have been passed down generation to generation), many have been significantly renovated through the decades and others have been knocked down and replaced altogether. Audrey learned her home had been added to twice before she bought it in 1989.

After moving in, Audrey got to work on some basic upgrades and made an unsettling discovery. “When we started to take off the vinyl siding, [we saw] the structure was loaded with ants and termites,” tells Audrey. The situation was in need of more than a quick visit from pest control and a lot of material from the house needed to be removed and overhauled for it to be inhabitable. She functionally rebuilt the house for around $20,000. “In those days, that went a long way,” she says, crediting Bob Ornstein of Providence’s Arris Design with creating architechural drawings that saved her a lot of money. Today, it is hard to imagine the 1,900-square-foot home’s meager origins thanks in part to recent additions completed last year. “I bumped out my kitchen [to] 10’ x 11’ and put on a 15’ x 18’ room I call The Ocean Room,” she says proudly. The new space is fresh, expansive and extraordinarily charming. She named it in acknowledgement of her son who is a ship pilot (a mariner who maneuvers sea-going vessels through harbors, ports and more).

As a commercial interior designer and furniture supplier (known as the furniture lady), Audrey was able to rely on her own experience and skills for some of the renovations. From an aesthetic standpoint, she wanted the space to be warm and evoke a hospitable, friendly vibe. It’s a feeling she associates with her own childhood. “When friends visited me, they always said how warm and fuzzy they felt,” explains Audrey. “My mom always had a pot of tea and raisin toast ready for my friends. I will always remember how nice those compliments were and I wanted to recreate that welcoming feeling in my home, and I believe I have accomplished that.” She also wanted The Ocean Room to be multi-purpose and space savvy so she installed a Murphy bed that drops down from the wall. The bed allows more room for guests, work, play, hobbies and comfortable, sensible living, all while taking advantage of the lakefront property. While the project was certainly in her wheelhouse, Audrey had some help from local pros along the way. “Arnold Lumber and Coventry Lumber were very helpful to me as I was the general contractor on my most recent additions,” she explains. The crews recommended the best products to use for subflooring and insulation in addition to sharing their advice and solutions for any challenges that arose. Even with her vast experience in the field, Audrey says working with knowledgeable crews pays off exponentially. “The only advice I would give to anyone who is building or putting on an addition is that licensed subcontractors should only be used,” she warns.

Now complete, Audrey has been renting The Ocean Room as an AirBnB property and the space has earned rave reviews. Revenue from the rentals are helping to offset the renovation costs, plus Audrey gets to introduce travelers from around the world to this community that is so special to her. “Over time you get to know your neighbors next door and across the lake. We all watch out for each other and care for each other,” she says. “I love the area so much that I started New Day Realty, a real estate firm here on the lake. Having lived here for 27 years, I know this area and community and hope that everyone will have the opportunity sometime in their lives to live on or near water.”