Spring 2023

Next Level Lake Living

Words by Savannah Rieke Newson  |  Photos by Josie Henderson

A cliffside poolhouse summons up Martha’s Vineyard style in Bonner Springs.


s enchanting as it sounds, the Lake of the Forest is a picturesque place to call home. Tucked away in the woodlands of Bonner Springs, this quaint community features a beautiful lake surrounded by a lush—yet challenging—terrain of steep inclines and rocky bluffs.

Resident and designer Julie Baker was ready to create her and her husband’s outdoor living dreamscape despite the challenges. Although their backyard had potential with its enviable lakeside views, its topography was far from ideal.

“Honestly, no one thought it was feasible,” Julie recalls. “Our property has a very heavy slope right off the back of the house. And we sit on a ton of rock. So I sat and stared at the space, measured this and that for months before I realized how the elevation of the land could work in our favor.”

Her master plan included two nearly impossible desires—a pool and a wraparound deck with no stairs. After making accommodations for space and budget, the Bakers ended up with a half-in-ground, 15-foot by 20-foot cocktail pool and hired a contractor to pump concrete over the top of their home and into the deck foundation below to make the structure work.

During this process, the couple began brainstorming ideas. Her inspiration came from fond vacation memories; his from a love of golf.

“When I started thinking about how I wanted the space to feel, I thought about bike rides I’ve taken through places like Martha’s Vineyard,” Julie says. “Striped awnings; high-backed, sit-for-hours lounge chairs; an easygoing charm—that was in my mind for the materials and furnishings.”

A poolhouse united both sets of ideas under one roof. The petite, custom-designed structure is now the year-round home for Jeff’s new favorite thing—a high-tech golf simulator with all the bells and whistles. For Julie, the pool house mirrors her desired classic-yet-casual contemporary style. It has all the charming features she wants, including a kitchen, oversized windows, cool tile and—her favorite—a unique bar.

“I love the pop-out windows in the bar area,” she states excitedly. “It’s a very handy feature for entertaining, it looks great, and it’s a magnet for guests to sit and hang out with a cocktail.”

This impressive backyard is a luxury addition to their already fabulous lake lifestyle and a favorite stop for neighbors in this golf-cart-driving community. 

“We love to entertain,” Julie says. “[When] designing the space, I considered how I’d set up for parties, [creating] easy access to the important things like storage and seating…I believe making a home functional, above all else, takes it to the next level. Making it look beautiful is easy.”



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