First task upon arrival at the lake house: stack firewood. First rule for interiors: no coasters allowed. “If furniture can’t handle a water ring, my customers don’t want it,” says Amy Meier of Amy Meier Design in California. First rule of site plan and building design: leave all trees as is and opt for sloping rather than perpendicular and plumb whenever possible.
Oh, and for the husband, there was that other little first: buying property (before stepping foot on it); Tell mrs later. In fairness, the owners were familiar with the property before the husband surprised his wife with the purchase. “We’ve owned a little cabin down the road for 15 years,” says the husband, whose career has seen frequent relocations for the couple and their three sons (they currently live in Florida). “The lake was our only constant.”
The boys, now 18, 17 and 13, are spending significantly less time on their phones, playing capture the flag until midnight, and going fishing and boating. There is only one TV which has been purposely moved out of the way. The husband and wife are enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine on the lake — that’s what he was doing one evening when he looked up and noticed this prime peninsula property with a great beach and “270 degree lake view,” says .
The couple had discussed finding a place to build their forever home, a meeting place for years to come. “We wanted to create a place that the boys and their future families would want to return to,” says the wife, who is from Detroit and also spent summers by the lake as a child. She was thrilled when she found out about the purchase. The only problem was the new home she envisioned, “a white frame with green shutters and a large covered porch—the quintessential northern Michigan—wouldn’t work here,” she says of the densely wooded lot at seven.” campy”. ” Kit cabins that have seen better days. “This crowd craved the dark and the old.”
The husband knew what he was up to (a prominent feature was “a great room with big windows,” he says), and he even had a sketch of a cocktail napkin. He brought this to Detroit-based architect Matt Rossetti of Rossetti, with whom he had previously worked on several occasions, but always on large-scale commercial projects. “We only make a few houses a year, so building a stadium looks like child’s play,” says Rossetti, laughing. “But this customer is a real visionary. Drawing on the history of the property’s various outbuildings, we’ve created four unique ‘cabins’, if you will, each with their own slang – clapboard, shake, lathe and plank and batten – all linked to the main lodge by contemporary breezes. These arcades, with sleek concrete floors and lots of glass and steel, “give the house an edge,” says the woman.
Meier was involved early on, choosing interior materials, finishes and furniture. “Almost nothing could be new. The rustier and crispier the better,” she says of the woman’s directions. “I wanted the furniture and fabrics to look like I brought them from my grandmother’s lake house about 70 years ago,” adds the woman. Reclaimed cedar from one of the original cabins was incorporated into the bunkhouse, and French white oak floors, salvaged beams, and barnwood paneling were from Surfaces Material Gallery, a nearby reclaimed lumber supplier. Meier juxtaposed stone and wood, glass and steel, balancing the weight of natural materials into an equation “that feels old but fresh”. Kitchen cabinets made from band-sawn, knotty white oak — “the knottier the better” — gain a patina over time, and walnut wood, milled from a fallen tree at the builder’s childhood home, crowns a deep green-painted island surrounded by displays of splatterware and Copperware surrounds all of Michigan.
The fireplace’s design took several tries, and Meier finally landed on a wooden beam with brick sides and blackened steel at the surround – “wobbly enough for her, symmetrical enough for him,” says Meier, who plastered the blank wall above so ” easy dances about it. My customers love art, but not in this house. It’s all about family photos here.”
Because the family uses the lake house as a year-round second home, the walls of the guest wing were built to conceal the insulation behind unfinished two-by-four walls and planks, mimicking the raw simplicity of the original cottages. The aim was for the newly built house to feel as if it had always been there. “The biggest compliment was when the window installer called to apologize because the blinds weren’t perfectly aligned because the house was so old,” says the woman. “I love that everything is a little bit funky, a little bit off.”
Everything, then, except how the house meets the family’s wishes – that’s true. “We didn’t want a fancy house. The lake is our place to switch off and relax, read a book, enjoy delicious meals and chat with friends and family,” says the husband. “A place to simplify amid the complexities of life.”
Featured in our July/August 2022 issue. Interior design by Amy Meier; architecture by Matt Rossetti; photography by Annie Schlechter; styling by Frances Bailey; Written by Stephanie Hunt.