Lake Effect

A dated Midwest contemporary is transformed into an East Coast Shingle-style dream house // Photography by Justin Maconochie
The new home on Walnut Lake replaced a dated 1970s contemporary style and drew inspiration from classic East Coast estates, as evidenced in the front exterior.

‘‘The ultimate 1970s bachelor pad,” is how Erik Abraham describes the 3,500-square-foot contemporary-style house on Walnut Lake in West Bloomfield that he and his wife, Katie, purchased in 2016. With a white stucco exterior and minimal architectural detail, the simple structure did come with a round master bedroom  — and a round bed — and it filled the entire second floor.

The rear of the house boasts enviable views of the lake. Stairs leading down to the water and beach house lead directly out of the living room and one can enjoy the gardens on the way to the lake.

It wasn’t exactly what the 30-something couple had in mind for their growing family, which includes 1-year-old daughter Celia and two rescue dogs, 12-year-old Bindi and 2-year-old Summit (Katie is on the board of the Michigan Humane Society). “The intention all along was to demolish the old house,” Erik explains.

Part of an open-plan living area and kitchen, the sitting room is a favorite of both the homeowners and the designers for its
lake views and bay window.

The existing house may have left something to be desired, but the lot was ideal. Perfectly situated on an all-sports lake close to Birmingham and Detroit, the location appealed to the couple — wake-surfing enthusiasts who own a speedboat and a pontoon. Surrounded by trees, the site felt private and included 50 feet of enviable waterfront.

The living room also boasts built-ins and a natural fireplace for chillier days.

“It was definitely all about the lot,” Erik confirms. “It was just a beautiful property. We looked at this and one other, and liked this because it felt like it was in the woods. If you walk outside, you can’t see other houses.”

Once the lot was theirs, the couple enlisted the help of Kevin Serba and John Rattray, of Birmingham’s Serba Interiors, who helped them transform the swinging ’70s structure into the warm and welcoming family home they envisioned. Technically a renovation, the 6,800-square-foot new house, which gives a nod to the classic Shingle Style found throughout the East Coast, includes just one original area located in the basement’s storage area.

The entryway’s curving stairway and painted paneling are nods to historic East Coast interiors.

“Our overall goal was to seamlessly transform the existing, dated contemporary structure into a timeless, traditional lake house,” Serba says. “For the exterior, we selected classic materials such as cedar shake siding, full-range limestone blocks, boxed-column support beams, and true divided casement windows, while interior rooms were fitted with large cove crown molding, tall baseboards, and coffee-brown oak floors. Throughout the home, we designed custom fireplace surrounds, paneled wall details, and built-in cabinets with classic architectural details.”

The powder room is small but special, with a classically inspired vanity and stylish sconces.

Open-plan interiors complement the exterior architecture and the landscape. “I’ve always liked blues and greens,” Katie says, adding that the color scheme is a nod to the nearby water. Partial to the “Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard look,” Katie says she and her husband “aren’t into trends; we like what’s easy and lasting.” Erik agrees: “We wanted an elegant but casual Hamptons feel. We used as much of the property as possible, to showcase views of the water. The focus of the house is entertaining and encompassing the outdoor lake activities.”

The inviting master bedroom boasts wonderful views. “It’s so high up, you sometimes feel like you’re in a high-rise,” says homeowner Katie Abraham.

To achieve that end, the designers opted for furniture layouts that offered plenty of comfortable seating; durable, family-friendly fabrics for soft furnishings; and a warm, neutral color palette that allows views of the water and foliage to take center stage. Stairs leading down to the water drift toward the lake from the living room, and highlight the couple’s gardens along the way. Multiple decks and all five bedrooms offer lakefront views.

Not far away, Katie’s clean-lined upstairs office looks out over the couple’s lush lakefront lot.

An open-plan kitchen, living room, and sitting room provide one large area that functions perfectly for everyday family routines, as well as the couple’s frequent entertaining. The warm, neutral tone used on the painted cabinetry and island bases, and a large wall of stained cabinets, balance the kitchen while complementing the porcelain countertops, which Serba says were selected for their classic beauty and their superior durability.

Like most of the house, the master bath has traditionally inspired cabinetry and views of Walnut Lake. With a mix of neutral upholstery, painted millwork, warm wood tones, and antique accents, the house exudes timeless elegance and youthful energy, designer Kevin Serba says.

The homeowners and designers agree the round sitting area in the living room is their favorite space, due to its abundance of natural light and views of the lake. Katie admits the room’s day bed is where she likes to hang out with Celia. One floor up, the master bedroom features a charming turret and the same view of the lake. “It’s so high up, you sometimes feel like you’re in a high-rise,” Katie says. “There are drapes, but I don’t think we’ve ever closed them.”

The kitchen has two islands and a mix of dark and light cabinetry. Serba recommended porcelain countertops for their
classic beauty and superior durability.

Surprisingly, Erik’s favorite space is windowless — part of the home’s expansive lower level. It may not have a view, but it does boast a barrel ceiling and storage space for up to 1,400 bottles of wine. “This is easily the best room of the house,” he says of the large wine cellar, located near the bar area and spacious family room.

The dining room features tones that evoke lake and sky.

The home was the couple’s first major building project, but possibly not their last. “I had a blast doing it,” Erik says of the two-year process. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of money, but I enjoyed it. If I saw a better piece of property, I’d do it again — but I haven’t seen one yet.”

“If I saw a better piece of property, I’d do it again,” says Erik Abraham about the building process, “but I haven’t seen one yet.”

BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGN
Serba Interiors, Birmingham, serbainteriors.com

BATHROOM, MASTER
Armchair
– The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Cabinetry – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Drapery – Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring– Virginia Tile, Livonia
Towels – Restoration Hardware
Wall Sconce – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy

BATHROOM, POWDER
Drawers
– Chelsea Textiles, New Jersey
Mirror – The Art of Custom Framing, Troy
Sconces – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Soap Dispenser – Restoration Hardware
Vase – The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Wall Treatment – Thibaut, Rozmallin, Michigan Design Center, Troy

BEDROOM, MASTER
Armchairs
– Highland House, Hickory Chair, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bed – Hickory Chair, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bedding – Eastern Accents, Illinois
Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Drapery – Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamp – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Occasional – Duralee, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Tapestry Beige 975

DINING ROOM
Blinds
– Royal Crest Inc., Oak Park
Chairs – Hickory Chair, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Drapery – Kravet, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Glasses – Ralph Lauren, New York
Rug – Stark, Troy
Sconces – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table – Lorts, Goodyear, Arizona
Wall Treatment – Thibaut, Rozmallin, Michigan Design Center, Troy

ENTRYWAY
Wall
Paint – Benjamin Moore, Cloud White 967
Chair – The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Occasional Table – The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Decorative Plant – English Gardens, Royal Oak

KITCHEN
Backsplash
– Virginia Tile Company, Livonia
Bar Stools – Fairfield,  North Carolina
Blinds – Royal Crest Inc., Oak Park
Cabinetry, Island, Bar, Cabinets – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Centerpiece and Vase – The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Chairs – Woodbridge, North Carolina
Chandeliers – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Pillows – Stroheim, Oklahoma
Table – Redford House,  California
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Tapestry Beige 975

LIVING ROOM/SITTING ROOM
Chairs
and Bench – Highland House, Hickory Chair, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Pillows – Kravet, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamp, Floor – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamp, Table – Wildwood Lamps, North Carolina
Rug – Crescent Carpet, New York
Table, Coffee, White – Redford House, California
Table, Wooden Occasional – The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Tapestry Beige 975

OFFICE
Desk
– Redford House, California
Desk Chair and Cabinet – Fairfield, North Carolina
Drapery – Duralee, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Riviera Carpets, Georgia
Vases, White – The Parson’s Nose Antiques, Ferndale
Wall Treatment – Thibaut, Rozmallin, Michigan Desigin Center Troy

EXTERIOR
Builder
– Hudson Building Co., Royal Oak
Landscaping – Great Oaks Landscape Associates Inc., Novi

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