Teresa and David Crouse wanted their new Michigan home to pull off a delicate balancing act: The beautifully decorated, grand rooms should exude cozy comfort and style. Getting that relaxed look meant combining charming architectural materials and a mix of new and antique furnishings. The result? The year-round home on Walloon Lake near Petoskey seems lived-in from the beginning, says architect Nicholas J. White.
That was the goal when Teresa and David, an independent film producer, left Chicago for the fresh air and slow pace near Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay. Both cultivated a love for the area as children when they vacationed there with their families. They met each other in Michigan and continued to visit with their children, Bill, 24, and Alexandra, 12. "We wanted to buy a big old Michigan cottage and renovate it," Teresa says. "We were never able to find it, so we wanted to make this house look like it had been here forever."
The exterior is a traditional Michigan cottage style. A lakefront porch and painted cedar shingles are coastal-style casual; columns lend a touch of formality. Transom windows with a muntin pattern add classic character. A door near the driveway is a convenient entrance, but the front of the house faces the lake.
Inside, a pine floor in the main living areas looks at once elegant and rustic, and beaded board introduces an older, cottage character. (For a casual, playful look, White installed the beaded board both horizontally and vertically and included a mixture of wide and narrow boards.) To help make the large rooms and open floor plan feel cozy and inviting, White designed coffered ceilings for the main living areas. "It makes the space feel more intimate," he says. "It brings the ceiling height down just a little bit, and in an open-plan house like this, it helps to divide the space up visually."
Fireplaces add warmth to the kitchen, living room, library and master bedroom. The fireplace in the living room was constructed from local stones and serves as a feature wall for the room. "We looked at country clubs, old walls and other homes to find the right look for the stone," says Lawrence Boeder, a Chicago-based interior designer who worked on the Crouses' home. Once the family chose a design, the search began to hand-pick each stone.
The kitchen matches the character of the rest of the house, with a distressed, rub-through finish on the island; a classic farmhouse sink; and a mix of butcher-block and blue Marinachi granite countertops. The result is comfortable and inviting for the cook and guests alike. "The large island doesn't have any raised places, so it's a huge work space. It also makes it easy for buffets," Teresa says.
But the house includes quiet nooks as well. An alcove in the back hallway, tucked into the space under the stairs, features a cozy perch for reading. The master suite has a peaceful lakefront balcony.
Throughout the house, antiques and new furniture blend style and practicality. Brass light fixtures once used in a Pullman car hang in the entry, along with an ornate ceiling fixture from an old theater. And the fabrics stand up to use by family members who often come into the house straight from swimming or other outdoor activities.
Influenced by those fabrics, the home's bold, primary colors feel friendly and playful, but they work well even in formal areas. Boeder pulled out the red in the living-room sofa fabric-Teresa and David's favorite color-and used it to unify the first-floor rooms. Valances in the dining room, living room and kitchen also help pull the look together. "It's a natural-looking color scheme. It's not overly decorated," Boeder says. "It all comes kind of easy."
That was the point of the home's design. "We use every square inch of this house," Teresa says simply.