“We blame the dog!” laughs Colleen Peters of her family’s love affair with Lake Whatcom, near Bellingham, Wash., just south of the Canadian border. Back in 2007, when Colleen and her husband, Matthew Peters, a partner at the law firm McCarthy Tétrault, were road-tripping with their four young children, they stopped at a campsite in the area on their way back to Surrey, B.C. Unfortunately, their cockapoo, Kopper, wasn’t allowed, so they couldn’t stay. The rugged beauty of the place stuck with them, though, so they returned to camp two weeks later and their love of Lake Whatcom was cemented. “We didn’t want to vacation without Kopper again,” says Colleen. “If only the campground had permitted dogs — but it didn’t, so we joke that Kopper was the reason we built our first cottage.”
Their Craftsman cottage was within walking distance of the water and the family enjoyed it for nearly 10 years. But when a nearby lakefront lot became available in 2017, the couple jumped at it. “We always dreamed of being right on the lake,” says Colleen. They sold the cottage and enlisted friend and architect Jim Aalders in Victoria to design a more substantial vacation house. Close friend Lisa Moody of Grapevine Designs signed on to handle the interiors.
“We were excited for the building process and the chance to explore a more modern design style,” says Colleen. After working through the permits and just as they were ready to break ground, the pandemic hit and the border closed. Already experienced with new construction, Colleen and Matthew were comfortable forging ahead remotely. They hired builder Nick Ivancovich of NJI Design & Construction whose work they’d always admired. He agreed to build the three-level, four-bedroom, four-bathroom house.