A Staycation Getaway on the Sandy Shores of Lake Erie

By: Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Empty nesters Karen and Sid Lipman faced a dilema. Sid, an ENT doctor, was on call every other night for years at a time, which required him to be within 20 minutes of the hospital. Needing to be close by at all times, the Lipmans were unable to take vacations out of town.

Sid and Karen decided to create an open, airy getaway right in their hometown on the shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania—the perfect staycation home that’s been the center of family get togethers, worldly exchange students, and magical summer retreats.

Upper Deck The homeowners' private balcony off of their master bedroom has the perfect beach view for two

Fire and water A chiminea fireplace anchors the home's main patio space overlooking the beach

Pick Your Colors A bright lime green umbrella adds a pop of color on the beachy-neutral patio

Birds-Eye View A view of the home's jacuzzi from the private master balcony

All About The View The home's living room, centered with impressive pale-wood beams, was designed to open the view to the water

Soft and Structured The living room furniture is plush and cozy, which contrasts the structured lines seen in the windows and beams

Lakeside Dining A rustic kitchen table acts as the perfect buffet or place to grab a bite on your way to the beach

Quick Escape The lower-level's family room is all about easy access to the shore

Find Your Colors Pops of green and brown glass bottles are the perfect complement to the room's blue hues

Warmer Waters The jacuzzi offers yet another way to relax in this modern oasis

Find Your Favorite Angle The home's many levels and terraces allow for endless exploration

Seascape Privacy A tree and accompanying beach-space provide subtle privacy against the otherwise open beachfront

Launch Slideshow
A history of the home

As told by Karen Lipman

The square footage of the home is 3,389. Completed in 1992, this home is where we staycation every year from June through September.

Before developing the land (there was a restaurant/bar here previously) and building our home, we had a small cottage a quarter mile to the west on Kelso beach. This is where we discovered our love of the lake and the importance of having direct access to the water and the state park to accommodate Sid’s rigorous call schedule.

Being avid kayakers, jet skiers, water skiers, windsurfers, and cyclists, we made a decision not to pursue other summer pleasures such as golfing or boating and spend all our time at the lake with our family.

Who designed this house?

We commissioned architect Herm Weber to design our home. Usually dedicated to commercial buildings, Herm agreed to take on our lake home because he had lived on the waters of Lake Erie for 17 years.

He knew the prevailing winds. He understood how to design a lakefront home that could withstand the brutal forces of winter lake effect snow while enjoying breezes in the summer that preclude the use of air conditioning.

Tell us about the design process for this home.

I told Herm to go modern! I wanted to feel as if we were on vacation when we there—a total change of environment. He delivered on our dream. Every room in the house has a view of the Lake—even our shower!

What do you love most about this home?

There are no window treatments blocking the panoramic view from our great room. We are at one with nature when we are there. I know the migratory patterns of ducks, raptors, purple martins, and Monarch butterflies. I collect beach glass, driftwood, stones, and create art in all forms.

Being on the shores of Lake Erie has inspired me to broaden my knowledge of cooking, gardening, exercising, reading, DIY projects (mosaics, vertical gardening, fairy gardens, creating sand dunes for protection against the wind and visual interest). I even raise Monarch butterflies.

Everything I do is organic due to our proximity to the Lake. We have rich diversity in our birds, fish, insects, and mammals here and they are extremely sensitive to most chemicals commonly used.

Do you have a favorite memory in this house?

One of my favorite memories at the beach house is hosting exchange students for the month of August. We have had teenagers from France, Spain, Norway, and Finland over the years. They each brought a different cultural and energy to our family with lots of very fond, often funny memories.  

Along with the exchange students, there were also my own three kids and their friends. If you count four long window seats, we have room to sleep 14! Many a summer night, there was full occupancy at the beach!  We had a campfire most nights built by the kids.

My husband, on the other hand, was creating firework shows! There are summers that we have done 15 shows over the Lake, much to the delight of everyone around us.

What do you love most about your beach home?

The house is now 25 years old but it doesn’t show its age. We kept everything simple and easy to clean. The floors are wood or tile and are still original.

We have very little furniture…nothing that will take your attention off of the lake! I had a local artist paint the walls 20 years ago. He painted stripes, textures, insects, and designs, all using colors that come through the windows at different times of the day. For the top layer, he used a glaze that has protected his work over the years.

Is there anything about this house you’d like to change?

After 25 years, I have to say there is only one thing I would change…the air conditioning!

In the last five years or so we have had record breaking heat and humidity. Usually we did not need any AC except for a few humid days. Now we are using it more and more.

When it needs to be replaced, we will put in two condensers instead of one. We are also considering adding AC to our screened porch where we spend a lot of our time.

Any thoughts for other homeowners?

The older I get, the more I like my surroundings uncluttered. I try not to bring anything home that doesn’t have a place! I feel centered and can keep my focus if only a few beloved objects are around me!

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