Often the most powerful ideas are the simplest. That’s certainly true of this lakeside cottage, which takes its cues from a shack that once stood on the land. Architect Paul MacNeely thought of the new house as an aperture through which to view the water. “There’s a nice water view but it’s not spectacular,” MacNeely says. “We created these transparent points as a way to celebrate the best views.”

At the center of the straightforward plan is a see-through entry hall. Like a break ­between two worlds, it separates the private bedroom volume on the quiet north side from the sunny living hall on the south. Those plan moves are also reflected in the exterior skin: board and batten on one side, clapboard on the other, and a red stain tying the two together. “I had an image of a red house in winter ­sitting in this white field, which is the lake,” MacNeely says, “and the notion that the red house standing out would be beautiful.”

CATEGORY: Custom one-of-a-kind, less than 3,500 square feet
ENTRANT/ARCHITECT: Eck/MacNeely Architects, Boston
BUILDER: Kinsley Homes, Auburn, Mass.