Carrying a Torch

A California family builds a beautiful northern Michigan getaway | Photography by Beth Singer
REGIONAL BEAUTY Architect Victor Saroki’s design pays homage to surrounding area barns, farms, and vineyards.

The pool table and shuffleboard in a main living area were the first clue. “Both were already on the plans when I was brought in,” designer Lucy Earl, president of Birmingham’s Jones-Keena & Co., explains. “I knew right away that there wasn’t going to be anything average about this project.”

Designed for a Michigan family now living in California, the five-bedroom, five-bath modern farmhouse has 140 feet of frontage and fantastic views of northwest Michigan’s Torch Lake, considered one of the state’s — and the nation’s — most beautiful bodies of water. While based on the West Coast, the homeowners can claim long ties to Michigan, having spent many happy days in a small cabin with their three children.

ARTFUL LIVING The great room is fuss-free with comfortable furnishings and a fireplace surround of Michigan split fieldstone from nearby Elk Rapids.

Those children are now adults, and the couple anticipated needing more room as the extended family grew and their children had children. While more space was a goal, so, too, was recreating the laid-back, carefree feel of their original cabin, which is now used as a guest house, Earl says. “The joy of their old cottage was that it was so relaxed, so easygoing,” she explains. “There was nothing serious about it, just fun. We all wanted to bring that spirit to the new house.”

Earl worked with the family and architect Victor Saroki, of Saroki Architecture in Birmingham, on the 1.5-year project, joining the team when the house was framed. “Easy living, inside and out,” was the goal, says Saroki, as was an architectural style that paid homage to the surrounding area’s barns, farms, and vineyards. He accomplished that by incorporating a main house and an adjacent barn, and joining them with a wooden boardwalk that leads to the lake. Designed to store boats and cars in the winter, the barn doubles as a place to entertain in the summer.

A hallway perspective showcases intriguing art and a pretty rug from The Rug Collection. Cottage-style nickel board walls are by Midlake Builders in Elk Rapids.

Inside the main house, an open floor plan incorporates the living room, dining area, and kitchen, and provides the perfect space for gathering while taking full advantage of breathtaking waterside vistas.

Torch Lake’s aquamarine expanse adds color to the palette, and can be seen from the main living area, screened-in porch, the game room, master bedroom, upstairs office/entertainment area, and one of four inviting guest bedrooms. “The house sits on a bend in the lake with both wide and long views, so it’s especially spectacular,” Earl says.

ENJOY THE VIEW Family and friends can take in Michigan’s four seasons — and the lake — from a beautiful sunroom.

The family knew what they wanted, and had the contemporary yet classic style in mind even before the project started, Earl explains. “The goal was always for it to be an elegant and clean idea of an updated farmhouse,” she says. “They didn’t want it to look too decorated or done up.”

Exterior materials include painted wood siding, a zinc roof, and simple windows, Saroki says. Inside, Earl adds, the couple’s choices include nickel board, Shaker flat panel cabinetry in the kitchen, black granite, and stainless steel. Interior goals included emphasizing the same pared-down simplicity that can be found on the home’s exterior.

The game room defines fun, while the kitchen (below) is an entertainer’s dream with a huge island and plenty of open space.

Furnishings are equally fuss-free, the designer says. The sofas are an inch lower than average, which makes them extra comfortable.

Neutral white walls tie the rooms together. “One wonderful part of a white house is that the things and people in them become even more important,” Earl explains. “My favorite interiors have interesting art and accessories.”

Playful bursts of color can be found throughout. Vintage rugs scattered around the first floor “have some wonderful wear, which contributes to the overall relaxed feeling,” Earl says. Especially appropriate for a second home, they work equally well in a main residence, she adds, noting that she’s seeing a rise in requests for vintage items. “Everyone’s looking for a less stressful environment,” she explains.

THIS WAS DESIGNED TO BE A FOREVER HOUSE. IT’S NOT JUST FOR THEM TODAY, BUT FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN.
— VICTOR SAROKI

The front door and barn door are painted bright yellow, and cabinets throughout the house are adorned with unexpected colors on their interiors, Earl says. “The kitchen is blue, the bar is fuchsia, the hall cabinets are green, and one of the bathrooms is powder pink,” she points out. She says she wanted to incorporate a sense of whimsy that would serve as a bridge from the family’s old cottage to their new one.

PASS THE POPCORN! Spire Integrated Systems Inc., in Traverse City and Troy, developed this awesome theater’s overall system design.

Earl says she works hard to make her interiors “timeless, collected, and undateable,” and notes there are parts of the house, including the bathrooms (not shown here), that could have been designed in the 1920s. The living area’s updated stone fireplace references the many similar fireplaces found in cottages all around Michigan.

Saroki says that same sense of timelessness is at the heart of the entire project. Come evening, the family gathers to watch the sunset. “This was designed to be a forever house,” he says. “It’s not just for them today, but for their children and future grandchildren. Bringing family and friends together now and into the future is what the house is all about.”


BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGN
Lucy Earl, Jones-Keena & Co., Birmingham, jones-keena.com

BEDROOM, GUEST
Bedframe – Charleston Forge, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bedside Chests – Made Goods
Comforter – Custom, Legacy Home Linens
Bench – Currey & Co., RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chair, Woven – Arteriors
Flooring – Custom, Everlast Floors Inc., Troy
Lamp, Floor – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamps, Bedside – Currey & Co., RJ Thomas, Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Creative Touch Rugs
Throw Blanket – Brahms Mount
Wall Treatment – Nickel Gap, Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove
Pillows, Bed (yellow) – Custom, Jones-Keena & Co. Upholstery Studio, Birmingham

FOYER
Art (not shown) – Yorkshire House Antiques
Lighting, Studio – Illuminart, Robert White, Troy
Ottoman – Djem Unique Design
Rug – Antique, Amadi
Staircase – Northern Staircase Co., Pontiac; Victor Saroki, Saroki Architecture, Birmingham
Table, Display (not shown) – Alfonso Marina

GAME ROOM
Art – Montgomery Boycott, Loring Cornish
Flooring – Custom, Everlast Floors Inc. Troy
Leather Stools – GJ Styles
Pillows, Accent – Moss Studio
Pool and Shuffleboard Tables – 11 Ravens, Vintage Industrial
Seating, Booth – Jones-Keena & Co. Upholstery Studio, Birmingham; Moore & Giles Leather
Sconces – Holly Hunt, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Shelving Unit – Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Table, Small – Four Hands
Wall Treatment – Nickel Gap, Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove

SPECIAL SPACES An office/entertainment space looks out to a wonderful water view.

GREAT ROOM
Chandelier – Custom 12’ Diameter, Laura Lee Designs
Fireplace – Michigan Split Fieldstone, Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Fireplace Tools – Jan Barboglio
Lamp – Kelly Wearstler for Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Ottoman, Leather – Currey & Co., RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy; Jones-Keena & Co. Upholstery with Vintage Rug, Birmingham
Pillows, Accent – Jones-Keena & Co. Upholstery Studio, Birmingham; Lee Jofa Fabric, Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sofas – Alfonso Marina; Kravet Crypton Fabric, Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Stools, Patterned – Currey & Co., RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Throw Blanket – Cozy Nomad

HALLWAY
Art, Mosaic – Loring Cornish
Art, Wooden – Client Acquired, Glen Michaels
Flooring – Everlast Floors Inc., Troy
Lighting, Studio – Illuminart, Robert White, Troy
Runner – The Rug Collection
Wall Treatment – Nickel Gap, Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove

OFFICE/ENTERTAINMENT ROOM
Desk – Console Table, Alfonso Marina
Entertainment Cabinet – Black Lined Ash with Carved Doors, Mr. Brown Home London
Flooring – Everlast Floors Inc., Troy
Pedestal, Black – Bobo Intriguing Objects
Pillows, Accent – MD Home Collections
Rug – Vintage Persian Rugs
Sculpture, White – Antique, Carved Limestone on Custom Wood Base
Sofa – Hickory Chair, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Throw Blanket – Surya
Wall Treatment – Nickel Gap, Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove

SUNROOM
Bench, Dining – Alfonso Marina; Kravet Fabric, Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Centerpiece – Texture Imports
Doors, Sliding – Marvin
Garden Chair – Formations Stroheim
Pillows – Elaine Smith, Jones-Keena & Co. Upholstery Studio, Birmingham
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove

One of four cozy guest rooms.

HOME SYSTEM
Overall Design – Spire Integrated Systems, Inc., Traverse City and Troy
Audio – Meridian Audio Speakers, Meridian Audio Digital Controller, Bowers & Wilkins Bookshelf Speakers, Triad Speaker Bar
Lighting – Lutron HomeWorks QS System
Shades – Lutron Palladiom
Whole Home – Savant Control System

KITCHEN
Artwork – 1980 Mixed Media on Canvas/ No. 84, Deborah F. Cuyler, Peridot Antiques
Backsplash – Virginia Tile Co., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Countertop – Black Absolute Honed, PMP Marble & Granite, Troy
Double Ovens – Wolf M Series
Flooring – Everlast Floors Inc., Troy
Hood – Best Classico Series
Light Fixtures – Gregorius Pineo
Refrigerator – Sub-Zero
Sink – Julien Inc.
Table, Dining – Custom Glass Top, Sold on Dixie Base
Vases, White – Clubcu

THEATER
Overall System Design – Spire Integrated Systems, Inc., Traverse City and Troy
Audio – Meridian Audio Speakers, JL Audio subwoofer, and Meridian Audio Surround Controller
Ceiling Treatment – Custom, Integrated Interiors Inc., Warren; Design, Jones-Keena & Co., Birmingham
Flooring – Louis de Poortere
Lighting, Ceiling – Spire Integrated Systems Inc., Traverse City and Troy
Lighting, Theater – Spire Integrated Systems Inc., Traverse City and Troy
Seating – CINEAK; Leather, Custom
TV Wall – Spire Integrated Systems Inc., Traverse City and Troy
Wall Treatment – Maharam Acoustical Fabric

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS
Architect – Victor Saroki, Saroki Architecture, Birmingham
Builder – Robert Schmerheim, Midlake Builders, Elk Rapids
Cabinetry – Joe Nowak, Nowak Cabinets, Williamsburg
Flooring – Larry Mathews, Everlast Floors Inc., Troy
Home Technology Designer – Navot Shoresh, Spire Integrated Systems Inc., Traverse City and Troy

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