For the Love of Fishing
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For the Love of Fishing

Legend has it Paul Bunyan formed the Finger Lakes with his outstretched hand. Maybe so. But one point on Seneca Lake bears the distinct imprint of owners Mike and Bonnie Woodward. Completed in 2006, this lovely weekend retreat an hour from the couple’s upstate New York home oozes warmth and tradition.

Punches of detail throughout the 3,500-square-foot cabin reflect the Woodwards’ love of fishing – and their appreciation of quality craftsmanship. Custom cabinetry, shelving, closets and metalwork make each room unique. From the hand-hewn Douglas fir logs to the white birch twig clothes hooks, every design element was carefully weighed in terms of overall continuity and flow.
“It was going to be a small log cabin,” recalls Mike. But like any good fish story, it grew. With six children and their spouses, grandchildren, plus a “school” of relatives, the couple soon realized the original plan was impractical.

You see, fishing on Seneca Lake is very much a family affair for this clan. Mike’s father and grandfather fished here.

The largest and deepest of the five Finger Lakes, Seneca is also Mike’s favorite. He has pulled smallmouth bass and perch from its glacial waters since he was a boy. These days, he usually has a son or grandson in tow.

Special Touches

An 8-foot sculpted bear stands sentry on the front porch. The bruin was a gift from builder/decorator Robbin Obomsawin of Beaver Creek Log Homes, who guided the Woodwards during every stage of the design process.  

The slate floor entry features an “Oriental rug” inlay and border. Originally, Bonnie wanted to incorporate the lake glass collected along the shoreline by the girls in the family. Instead, she opted for copper-edged mosaic glass tiles by Roma Tile & Marble. A similar tile forms the backsplash above the stove. A chandelier with a band of bas-relief fish is suspended on interlocked fishhooks from the vaulted ceiling in the entry. A wrought-iron fireplace surround teems with realistic bass swimming among the cattails.

Stickley Mission-style furniture anchors the great room. Handcrafted end tables and rustic furnishings are from Unique Woodworks in Cleveland, N.Y. So are whimsical accessories. A 7-foot string of carved walleye dangles from the end of a log in the gazebo porch. A lake trout – denizen of Seneca Lake’s depths – balances atop a grandfather clock. Instead of a curtain on the window over the kitchen sink, a carved muskellunge hangs from the ceiling like a swag.  

Oversized stained glass twig lights by Adirondack artist Robert Stump depict a woodland and water scene painted on the glass. In one of the panes, a man in a plaid shirt (Mike) and one of the grandsons  are fly-fishing.

Snug as a Bug

Two guest rooms are devoted to the six grandkids, who range from tot to teen.

“The ‘bug room’ was originally designed to have a windowless wall on both sides of the room,” explains Bonnie. “When the walls started to go up, I panicked as the rooms always seem smaller to start with than they end up being. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to fit beds in there, and when I couldn’t envision the room, I had them stop until I figured out what I actually wanted.”

The solution? Two built-in trundle beds nestled into the long sloping ceiling wall that would otherwise be wasted space. Built-in dressers maximize the space between beds. Hidden toy storage plus a small secret passage door between the beds makes bedtime more appealing for the small fry.

After scouring magazines for ideas, Bonnie came up with a theme inspired by lime-green bug sheets and duvets. Within the bed cubby-holes, walls are painted a cheery lemon-yellow, accented with fairies and pixies stenciled by artist Susan Richmond of the Oh, Suzanna! firm. Richmond custom-painted a focal wall with lemon-yellow and lime-green elongated diamonds. Where they intersect, the artist slipped in black polka dots and an occasional ladybug in glow-in-the-dark paint.

A built-in bookcase stores playthings. “It’s difficult to find storage in log homes unless you utilize the pitched area behind the walls,” notes Bonnie. “The [bug] room gives them plenty of space to play, sleep and store their things.” Built-ins here and elsewhere in the cabin were made by Crown Point Cabinetry.

Guest Rooms

A second bedroom for the grandchildren boasts a playhouse and sliding board for the small fry. A log ladder leads to a slide that passes through an opening cut into the wall. A wee built-in bunk with crib mattress has log accents. Below it, a “mouse house” replete with carpeting and beadboard walls accommodates Bonnie’s dog. Stenciled woodland creatures and a toad prince frolic on playhouse walls. 

The main section of this room (nicknamed the Water Room) received a faux Venetian plaster finish. Richmond applied layers of blue, green and off-white paint to the walls with a 6-inch putty knife. Blending the wet layers created a watery effect that, coupled with a sand-colored carpet, makes guests feel like they’re still at the lakeside. Trundle daybeds with a nautical flair inspire dreams of yard-long rainbow trout like the carved and painted “trophy” that hangs here.

A third guest room is for adults. “We removed the walls to make more space,” says Bonnie. “The room is simply decorated yet comfortable, except when one of my 6-foot-2 boys stands straight up when getting out of bed and bonks his head!”

This Finger Lakes fishing lodge truly is a keeper.

Frances Sigurdsson doesn't know her trout from her bass, but nonetheless enjoys lakeside living in the Adirondacks.

Reader Resources:
• Builder/designer: Robbin Obomsawin, Beaver Creek Log Homes, Oneida, N.Y.

A touch of family: The mosaic in the entryway uses glass tiles reminiscent of the lake glass collected by the girls in the family. The carved bear outside the front door was a gift from builder/decorator Robbin Obomsawin.
Steve Umland
The chandelier, above, sports a band of bas-relief fish and hangs from interlocked fishhooks.
Steve Umland
Where fish abound: The Woodward family’s love of fishing is reflected everywhere in their Seneca Lake cabin. The wrought-iron fireplace surround depicts bass fishing among the cattails.
Steve Umland
The gazebo room: This room originally was intended to be an outdoor screened porch. The Woodwards turned it into a home theater instead, with a projector and retractable screen in the ceiling. “The kids think it’s like going to the drive-in,” says Bonnie Woodward.
Steve Umland
Denizen of the deep: This carved lake trout is another exquisite fish detail in the Woodward lakehome.
Steve Umland
Steve Umland
A light touch: The Bug Room is a fun, whimsical bedroom for the grandchildren. Glow-in-the-dark ladybugs rest on some parts of the focal wall, which is painted in yellow and green elongated diamonds.
Steve Umland
Guest Spaces: Walls were removed to open up the space in one guest room.
Steve Umland
In one of the grandkids’ bedrooms (above), the 12-inch-tall “Mouse House” actually is a carpeted retreat for the family dog.
Steve Umland

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