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Editor's Letter: The Lake Effect

Photo: Gibeon Photography

Know that blissed-out feeling you get when you dip a paddle into a lake’s glassy surface, stroll on a beach, or stare out at the waves? Author and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols calls it a “blue mind,” and says that the mildly meditative state characterized by “calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment” is triggered when we’re in or near water.

That might explain why homeowners around the world pay a premium to build their homes within sight of a shore. Here in the high country, where waterfront lots are few and far between, folks go to especially great lengths to find a quiet spot on the water.

Photo: Heidi A. Long [See the whole home at: A Cottage-Like Home on the Water]

Take homeowners Debra and Orlan Sorensen, for example, who sold their home on Whitefish Lake so they could buy the lot next door (which had better views and a private boathouse), and then spent the next six months lowering the site by eight feet just so they could build their shingled cottage-style dream home a bit closer to the water.

Photo: Gibeon Photography [See the whole home at: A Hideaway on the Shore of Flathead Lake]

Or architect Larry Pearson, who fell in love with a little aspen grove on the north shore of Montana’s Flathead Lake that just happened to be on a 100-year floodplain and surrounded by protected wetlands. Building his personal retreat here required creativity, sensitivity and some skillful engineering—not to mention extra time and expense.

Why do we go to such trouble to achieve a blue mind? I think Pearson put it best when he said it’s all about the opportunity to live “light and easy ... in a completely different world.”

So what do you do if your home is far from the water? That’s where the transportive magic of design comes in. We’ve filled the following pages with decorating tips and ideas that can help you evoke that breezy, waterside vibe in even the most landlocked space—and maybe even inspire a blue-minded moment or two.

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