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House Tour: Ship Shape

Nautical details and kid-friendly design put the focus on family fun at this busy Nantucket-style lake home in northern Michigan.

Modern cottage

White-painted vertical V-groove wall panels contrast a cedar vaulted ceiling for clean cottage style. A framed American flag from 1837, the year Michigan became a state, inspired the living room’s red, white and blue color scheme. 

Outdoor action

Multiple decks and an integrated above-ground pool with an outdoor shower enhance the western red cedar shingle-sided cottage overlooking the lake.

This northern Michigan cottage grew out of a childhood memory for homeowner Gregg. A few feet from where the getaway sits now, Gregg often pitched a tent as a child. It was an easy, fun way to expand sleeping space at his parents’ lakeside cabin. “I was one of six kids in a tiny cottage that was chaotic and loud,” Gregg says. “But I loved going there more than anything in the world.” His grandparents have a place at the lake, too. When property next door came up for sale a few years ago, Gregg bought it without hesitation and built a vacation home for his wife, Sue, three sons and their big extended family.

Local flair

Black honed granite countertops and industrial pendants look sleek in the white kitchen. Above the range, a tile backsplash with a custom map of Michigan (by local artist Glenn Wolff) showcases the homeowners’ pride of the area.

White inset cabinetry reflects the home's cottage scheme and hides integrated double dishwashers, a warming drawer and clever storage, like pullouts for dog dishes. Gregg’s idea to build a booth into the island makes the kitchen kid-friendly. “I wouldn’t normally advocate an island that big,” says designer Scott Lankford. “But the U-shape booth cutout creates a great gathering space.” Drawers below the cherrywood seats store games often played on the tabletop.

Creative niches

Family members read, nap or enjoy views on a wide window seat, which has storage below.

On the home’s main level, the living room, kitchen and dining area merge as one. An open, connected layout encourages family togetherness, while creative “hang out” niches like the one pictured offer respite.

Complementing the laid-back atmosphere, the cottage design combines Michigan casualness with Nantucket style. Easy-to-clean slipcovered furniture, accent pillows and minimal accessories carry an all-American red, white and blue color scheme throughout the house.

Upper deck

In the shingle-sided screen porch, new wooden oars form a railing around a loft hideaway. 

Nautical accents

In the serene master bedroom and other areas of the home, a cedar ceiling with exposed Douglas fir trusses contrasts white walls. Nautical design elements tie the interior to the lake. Round windows resembling portholes on interior walls allow light to flow room to room. “We wanted to make the space as light and airy and bright as we could,” says architect Bob Holdeman. Metal marine light fixtures add industrial edge. Artwork of beach scenes and boats by northern Michigan artists brings local flavor. 

Light and privacy

High windows in the bathroom let in natural light while maintaining privacy.

Porthole passage

Barn doors with salvaged porthole windows separate the lower-level game area (with air hockey and Ping-Pong) from the bunkroom. Spaces for ’round-the-clock recreation were a must for this active family.

Sleep and play

On the lower level, a bunkroom with a connected dressing room mimics the setup of a summer camp cabin. Niches for three trundle beds leave the floor—made of cushioned sports court material—clear for playing soccer and hockey. Red walls help visually separate sleeping alcoves from play areas.

Boys' bath

Gray slate tile flooring continues up walls as wainscoting in the boys’ bathroom. 

Captain hooks

Galvanized dock cleats, used to secure boat lines, serve as towel hooks in the lower-level bathroom.

Click here for a buying guide to this home.

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