Chic Retreat

Downstate designer updates a 1970s Up North cottage as a getaway for an active family
CHIC RETREAT: The Great Room lives up to its name. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

Residential projects from the 1970s don’t often age well. The five-bedroom, 4.5-bath, 4,000-square-foot cottage that Alexis Elley, of Textures Interior Design in Grosse Pointe Farms, recently completed is no exception.

Built in 1979, the Harbor Springs property in the L’Arbre Croche development boasted a good layout, with outdoor access on each of the four levels and a walking path to Lake Michigan. But it also had unattractive flooring throughout, an outdated kitchen and bathrooms, painted cedar walls, and popcorn ceilings. “Nothing had been touched since it was built,” Elley explains.

NORTHERN NUANCES: A cottage-style kitchen. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

The homeowners, who live in Grosse Pointe Farms, “wanted something fresh and different,” the designer says, and were looking for a getaway that complemented the young family’s active lifestyle. “They wanted a space that caters to entertaining and family fun,” Elley says. “Having grown up spending my summers and winter ski weekends in Harbor Springs, I jumped at the opportunity.”

The fact that it was a second home also appealed to the designer. “Since this is a holiday home, I was able to use designs that were a little out of the box,” she says.

A perfect set-up for cocktail hour. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

The project was “a total gut job,” although the layout remained largely the same except for the master suite, which originally had odd in-room sinks. “We had to reconfigure that, and move the sinks out of the room to make the bathroom private and functional. We also added a wall of custom built-ins in the great room for storage, as well as custom bunk beds in the bunk room.” The team updated other bathrooms and the kitchen, as well.

For the interiors, the homeowners wanted “a natural and serene environment with subtle color,” Elley explains. She describes the overall interior style she created as “rustic glam, with some transitional and modern elements. I love to use neutrals, including white and brown, with pops of black and little splashes of color.”

FEATHERING THE NEST: The cottage’s layout remained largely the same except for the master suite, which originally had in-room sinks. It’s now a peaceful oasis. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

Nicknamed “The Treehouse,” the property is surrounded by woods. That led Elley to incorporate subtle greens and blues, in addition to “lots of natural textures and tones” throughout the residence.

The expansive great room is among Elley’s favorite spaces. “We created three areas to accommodate dining, a seating area facing the fireplace for conversation, and a large sectional and ottoman facing custom built-ins for movie nights,” she shares. The original stone fireplace, which serves as the room’s focal point, was updated with a new mantel made from reclaimed white oak and a black granite hearth. Elley topped it with a three-panel art piece featuring a stag — “a different spin on the traditional taxidermy seen in so many northern Michigan homes,” she explains.


Other highlights, she says, include the bunk room “with its hunter green beds and personal reading lights for sleepovers and late-night bedtime stories,” and the powder room, with its custom scalloped white oak countertop and grass cloth leopard print wallpaper, “because every house needs a little animal print.”

Plexiglass, white oak, and a stunning chandelier make for a beautiful stairway. A feathery bedroom vignette. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

The project was Elley’s first remote undertaking, and the distance between the project and her Grosse Pointe Farms base made for an interesting project. “I like to pop in to see my projects every day,” she says. Although this project prohibited her from checking in every day, she went up to Harbor Springs at least once a month, she says, and she and the homeowner spent a working weekend up north, as well as days at the Michigan Design Center downstate. Elley says she had a great working relationship with contractor Steve Jakeway. “We were all on the same page,” she says. “He called me every day.”

NATURE’S VIBES: Plenty of seating awaits friends and family. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

Other than that, “it was pretty seamless,” she says, adding that she starts work soon on the family’s main residence. This undertaking may have been her first remote project, but she hopes it won’t be her last. “I would absolutely do more projects Up North,” she says.

The homeowners, who moved just in time to enjoy last year’s summer season, agree that the project went smoothly. “We couldn’t be happier with the end result,” they assert, adding that they consider The Treehouse their “happy place.”

The cozy lounge features kid-friendly cube seating, Native American art, and a mix of natural materials. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

“We come up as often as possible,” the couple says. “Alexis brought our very basic vision to life, and then some.”



BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGNER 

Alexis Elley, Textures Interior Design,
Grosse Pointe Farms,
texturesinteriordesign.com

BEDROOM, GUEST

Bed Frame and Bedding – Serena & Lily
Blanket, Throw – UGG
Chair, Desk – HomeGoods
Flooring – White Oak
Light, Ceiling – Visual Comfort
Light, Wall – Visual Comfort
Rug – overstock.com
Shelf, Floating – White Oak
Table, Bedside – Serena & Lily
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

Chic Retreat: Detroit Design Fall 2022 - A popular guest bedroom.
A popular guest bedroom. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer
BEDROOM, MASTER

Bedding – Palecek, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Dresser – Serena & Lily
Flooring – White Oak
Lamp, Table – Tahari
Light, Ceiling – Kelly Wrestler, Visual Comfort
Mirror – CB2
Patio Chairs and End Table – Teak
Rug – Lulu and Georgia
Sconces – Visual Comfort
Shelves, Floating – White Oak
Table, End – Antique, Joie de Vie
Wallpaper – Thibaut
Window Treatment – Natural Woven Raffia

GREAT ROOM

Armchairs – Four Hands
Artwork – Trowbridge
Cabinetry, Mini-Bar – Preston Feathers
Chaise Lounge – Bernhardt
Chandelier – Ralph Lauren, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Countertop, Mini-Bar – Quartz (Envi)
Fireplace – Black Granite
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak
Glassware – Reidel
Ottoman – Article
Sectional – Vanguard Furniture, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Stools, Cow Skin – Made Goods
Table, Coffee – Made Goods
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

Note the fascinating pattern intricacies of the great room table.
Note the fascinating pattern intricacies of the great room table. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer
KITCHEN

Backsplash and Countertop – Quartz (Envi)
Cabinetry – Preston Feathers
Flooring – White Oak
Lighting, Island – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Ovens, Double – Thermador
Refrigerator – Sub-Zero
Shelves, Floating – White Oak
Sink, Farmhouse – Kohler
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

LOUNGE

Armchairs – Four Hands
Art, Native American – Lauren Kirchner Photography
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak
Ottoman, Cube – HomeGoods
Pillows, Accent – South African Spring Buck Pelts, Vanguard Furniture
Rug – Four Hands
Shelves, Floating – White Oak
Sofa – Sleeper Sofa, Vanguard Furniture
Table, Coffee – Four Hands
Tables, Geometric – HomeGoods
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

POWDER ROOM

Faucet – Brizo
Flooring – Wide Plank
Mirror – Carvers’ Guild
Sconces – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wallpaper – Lee Jofa, Kravet | Lee Jofa | Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy

TOP SHELF: A kitchen vignette captures the cottage spirit.
TOP SHELF: A kitchen vignette captures the cottage spirit. – Photography courtesy of Beth Singer
STAIRCASE

Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – White Oak
Stairs and Railing – Plexiglass and White Oak
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS

Builder – Steve Jakeway, Steve Jakeway Builders, Petoskey
Cabinetry – Paula Keipert, Preston Feather Building Center, Petoskey



Text by Khristi Zimmeth & Photography by Beth Singer

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