30 Lake House Decorating Ideas For Your Waterside Escape

Ideas inspired by the natural world.

Focus on the View
Photo: Helen Norman

There's something so nostalgic about lake houses—memories of hot summers spent by the water, autumn getaways to see the rich fall foliage. Lake houses are the de facto settings for big family gatherings, girlfriend getaways, and celebratory weekends. So shouldn't a lake house be a place that draws people in, wraps them up, and invites them to stay a while? Over the years we've seen a variety of lake house decor—some is stunning, some is serene, some functional, and some opulent. But no matter your style (or need), we've gathered more than a few tips and ideas for lake house decorating. Whether you want a fresh and sophisticated update, need to brighten up old ceilings, or aim to create a rustic oasis, these lake house decorating ideas will help expertly blend the beauty of nature all around.

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Choose An All-White Palette

White Lake House Decor
Photo: Alexandra Rowley

Give your lake house decor a fresh and sophisticated look with a bright white palette. Simple curtains add an element of softness to the room.

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Play Up The Views

Family Room
Photo by: Tria Giovan, Styling by: Matthew Gleason

Sliding pocket doors can be tucked away for seamless indoor-outdoor living. See more of the Texas Idea House

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Focus On The View

Focus on the View
Helen Norman

Keep the beautiful views the primary focus. A neutral palette devoid of area rugs or window treatments blends this living room with its surroundings. See more of this Alabama transformation

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Choose Durable Seating

Choose Durable Seating
Photo: Helen Norman

Pick furniture that can withstand wet swimsuits for minimal worry and upkeep. Keep the color palette in tune with the surroundings to blur the distinction between indoors and out. See inside this Georgia home

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Create An Effortless Look

Create Effortless Style
Photo: Lisa Romerein

Lake living should feel laidback, so keep the color scheme simple. Here, blue and green accent pillows channel the outdoors.

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Make It A Hybrid

Make It a Hybrid
Photo: Laurey Glenn

The homeowners wanted both a lake cottage and a mountain cabin. With the help of a designer, they came up with a comfortable hybrid of charming architectural elements and classic Adirondack-style furniture. Pair favorite pieces with a crisp background of white walls for a comfortable look that is all your own. See more of this Lake House Makeover

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Bring Light In

Bring Light In
Photo: Nancy Nolan

In the dining room of her Arkansas lake house, interior decorator Heather Chadduck Hillegas installed skylights to flood the space with more sunlight. She painted the original dark-stained ceilings pale gray to open up the space.

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Add Extra Seating

Add Extra Seating
Photo: Lisa Romerein, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

Choose furniture or accessories that can double as extra seating to accommodate a crowd. This deep fireplace hearth is outfitted with custom cushions, and portable woven cubes can be used for seating in a pinch.

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Work With The Architecture

Work With the Architecture
Photo: Lisa Romerein, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

Incorporate the existing architecture to give your lake house an easier update. Here, the original brick flooring is refinished with a sheen for an updated look. A few coats of white paint took the former dark wood walls from drab to fab.

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Mix Motifs

Create Texture
Lisa Romerein

Blend patterns and styles without reservation for an informal look. Grass cloth wallcovering keeps in line with this lake house family room's coastal look.

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Create Cohesion

Trick of the Trade
Photo by: Lisa Romerein, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

Keep the paint on walls, trim, and paneling monochromatic for a seamless look. For color relief, leave the ceiling white.

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Make It Feel Rustic

Natural Lake House Kitchen
Photo: Helen Norman, Styling: Rebecca Omweg

Give your lake house a rustic feel with dark, woodsy hues. Here, walls and trim are stained bark brown and cabinets are painted driftwood gray.

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Design 180° Views

Design 180° Views
Photo: Helen Norman, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

If you're remodeling or building, consider designing a bump-out bay of windows. It creates a cozy sitting room with a panoramic view of the landscape.

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Add A Personal Touch

Add a Personal Touch
Photo: Helen Norman, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

In the kitchen, framed family photos with thin plywood and hinges act as cabinet doors.

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Connect Living Spaces

Connect Living Spaces
Photo: Helen Norman, Styling by: Rebecca Omweg

Connect the outdoor living area to the main house with a walkway or dogtrot like this vine-covered portico.

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Create A Calm Retreat

Create a Calm Master Suite
Photo: Nancy Nolan

Keep the main bedroom a serene oasis with a soothing palette like this grey and white scheme.

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Prioritize Privacy and Light

Master Privacy and Light
Photo by Nancy Nolan

While being mindful of beautiful views and light filtration, opt for soft linen draperies for privacy.

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Set A Rustic Table

Set a Rustic Table
Photo: Nancy Nolan

Pair a wood table with iron chairs for rustic lakeside dining. Fill hurricanes with river rocks and pillar candles of varying height for a touch of elegance.

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Add Extra Beds

Add More Beds
Photo: Nancy Nolan

To carve out more sleeping space, build bunk beds into the wall. Here, three bunk beds stack all the way up to the nearly-20-foot ceiling.

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Intensify Paint Hues

Intensify Paint Hues
Photo: Helen Norman

The designer and homeowner of this lake hose added black to deepen paint colors, making the hues on the walls more intense.

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Keep It Essential

Keep It Essential
Photo: Helen Norman

Open shelving in the kitchen will help pare down a lake house's dishware to only the essentials.

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Bring Nature In

Bring Nature In
Photo: Helen Norman

Designer Richard Tubb advises, "Surround yourself with nature indoors by filling vases with things you've cut from the yard."

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Design A Dreamy Bedroom

Create a Cozy Bedroom Nook
Photo: Helen Norman

Create a cozy bedroom nook by hanging curtains. If you're not comfortable mixing patterns, try using varying textures instead, like the designer did here.

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Connect With The Outdoors

Connection to the Outdoors
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

"I always design floor plans to pull visitors toward the daylight," says architect Bill Ingram. Here, the elevated entry and foyer give guests a straight view to the lake upon entering the front door. There are also three outdoor living spaces: a rear terrace, a screened side porch, and an open-air porch. See more of the Bill Ingram Lake House

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Make It Twice As Nice

Heather Chadduck Hillegas Blount Springs, AL Lake House Living Room
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Here, designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas relied on her favorite design trick: symmetry. She centered the room around the concrete fireplace and then outfitted the space with pairs: two built-in bookcases flank the fireplace, a couple of slipcovered swivel chairs from Lee Industries sit in front of them, and matching floor lamps rest at each end of the sofa. The sleeper sofa hides another bed, and linens can be stored in the trunk. Tall French doors with transoms enhance the connection with the outdoors.

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Bring In Something Old

Heather Chadduck Hillegas Blount Springs, AL Lake House Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn

A French antique trestle table serves as an island, prep station, and dining table in this kitchen. Slipcovered stools can be pushed out underneath the table and out of the way.

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Balance It Out

Heather Chadduck Hillegas Blount Springs, AL Lake House Master Bedroom
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Combine beautiful and functional elements for a dreamy bedroom retreat. Plush curtains add softness as well as privacy. An iron canopy bed has an airy feeling, while a braided-jute rug lends warmth. A slipcovered headboard and matching bed skirt add a dose of pattern. Blue vintage nightstands add more storage and provide extra color.

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Lean Into Natural Style

Brown Front Porch
Laurey W. Glenn

At this 1,000-square-foot lake house, the porch lives like another den. Woven rugs add warmth while designating the dining space from the sitting area. Choosing furnishings made of natural materials provides another earthy element to the alfresco room.

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Choose Comfort

Modern Living Room in Alabama Lake House with Wood Paneled Walls
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kiera Coffee

Sunlight pours into the living room of this Alabama lake cabin through a wall of windows. While the house's main focus is the outdoors, the homeowner wanted the interiors to feel easy and comfortable for afternoon naps.

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Plan For Company

Modern Lake House Bunk Room
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kiera Coffee

When it's time for light's out, kids can pile into bunkbeds, topped with mismatched vintage quilts from Etsy. Lining the beds against a wall freed up floorspace for playing games on rainy days. A small reading lamp is clipped on each bunk for late-night stories. Fuss-free flooring stands up to water and mud tracked in.

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