Cottage-Meets-Craftsman Style in a Michigan Lake House (2024)

After their kids had grown up and moved out, this couple decided to build their forever home on Gull Lake near Kalamazoo, Michigan. The design pros at Visbeen Architects and its in-house interior design firm, Vision Interiors, created a 2,781-square-foot house that feels much larger than it is and has plenty of room for company. The style, which nods to the lakeside cabins of the region, is described by architect Wayne Visbeen as “cottage meets Craftsman.” Interior designer Julie Holmes wanted the decor to match the couple’s personalities. “This is one of the loveliest couples I’ve ever met,” she says. “I wanted to give them not only the earth tones and warm colors they liked, but I also wanted the house to reflect their happy spirits.”

Visbeen Architects

Photos by Ashley Avila Photography

House at a Glance
Who lives here:
A couple whose kids have grown up and moved out
Location: Outside Kalamazoo, Michigan
Size: 2,781 square feet (258 square meters); 3 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms
Designers: Julie Holmes of Vision Interiors and Wayne Visbeen of Visbeen Architects

For the exterior, Visbeen wanted to create a home with lots of character but minimal construction costs. He designed a simple structure that would be easy and relatively inexpensive to build. “When you save money on construction like that, you can spend it on amenities that upgrade it, such as built-ins and special touches,” he says. He came up with a house that looks like it’s been on the lake for decades and was added to over time, helping it fit in with the older homes in the area.

The parts of the house that look like additions are the dormers and two areas under the gabled roofs on the back: the screened-in porch (seen at left) and the sunroom (right). The porch roofs are metal, while the main gable has shingles. Visbeen paid homage to regional lake architecture with Craftsman-inspired style, the use of board-and-batten siding, and stone chimneys and accents.

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Visbeen Architects

By designing versatile and flexible spaces, Visbeen made the living space feel much larger. The screened-in porch includes a lounge with an outdoor fireplace and dining area. Retractable screens can open the space up to the rest of the patio or keep it protected on days when insects are active.

“A large opening between the living room and the porch extends the living space outdoors,” Visbeen says. “I attended a party here with about 100 guests and there was an easy flow throughout the house and from indoors to out.”

The siting of the house required that it be raised above the level of the lake. Boulders and terraces accomplished this in an attractive way. “And it’s nice to have views from the house and patio that look over the dock and boats,” Visbeen says.

Visbeen Architects

View From the Street

Visbeen also raised the house to meet the level of the street. The entry porch provides shelter during inclement weather, and transom windows add charm to the garage doors. A hipped roof over the garage and porch help break up the facade. That roof, the stone accents and the corbel and false louvers at the peak are some of the special touches the architect mentioned.

Visbeen Architects

Another special touch is this beautiful 4-by-8-foot hickory door with transom. “This door lets people know this house is special,” Visbeen says. The porch also features a planked-wood ceiling and bluestone.

Visbeen Architects

Function Along the Hallway

Visbeen’s floor plan makes the most of the long and narrow lot. “We were basically dealing with a long, 38-foot-wide rectangle,” he says. The goals were to create an easy flow, pack in lots of function and storage and maximize the lake views as much as possible. The hallway is full of that functional element: To the right of the front door is a drop-off station, coat closet and cabinets, and farther along is a powder room, laundry room and butler’s pantry. “Arranging things this way provides a vista from the front entry to the lake,” Visbeen says.

Hickory floors and doors and tongue-and-groove paneling on the ceilings and wainscoting create a cabin vibe, and Visbeen found small but powerful ways to add a sense of graciousness. For example, he added a turn and small landing to the staircase rather than making it a straight run.

Visbeen Architects

Public Spaces

The hallway opens into one big space that contains the dining room, kitchen, living room and sun porch. The open plan gives all of the spaces water views. The dining room has a wall of built-ins in a lake-inspired deep blue; the countertop is a rich walnut and serves as buffet and bar. The mirrored backsplash reflects the light and makes the space feel even more expansive.

Holmes was careful to choose furniture that would make the space feel larger and keep the views open. The oval dining table allows for a better flow around it than a rectangular one would, and the chandelier makes a statement but doesn’t obstruct sight lines.

Visbeen Architects

Visbeen delineated the areas within the open plan with wood ceiling beams, which also add to the cozy lake style. An island defines the kitchen space, reinforced from above by brass pendant lights.

Holmes used an array of textures, such as metallic finishes and textiles, throughout the house to warm things up. “We wanted to keep things interesting and provide lots of seating without blocking views or overwhelming the room with furniture,” she says. She chose pieces that are both comfortable and the correct scale. Low backs on the sofa and chairs preserve the views.

“We also used enough blue to remind people that they are at the lake,” Holmes says. Pieces such as the rattan chairs help maintain the cabin feel.

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Visbeen Architects

The kitchen’s stylish metal hood and hand-painted Walker Zanger tile wall create a focal point. By packing the island with storage on two sides and including a large butler’s pantry, the designers were able to forgo upper cabinets and put in windows instead.

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Visbeen Architects

More blue pops up in the highly functional butler’s pantry, which is next to the kitchen. It contains food storage, a microwave, a coffee station and a second sink and dishwasher.

“This is a house built for lots of company,” Holmes says. The pantry allows guests to serve themselves in the morning while the hosts prep breakfast in the main kitchen. And it’s a place where dirty dishes can be stashed out of sight during get-togethers.

Visbeen Architects

Holmes placed a comfy sectional in the window-wrapped sun porch corner. “I like to repeat textures throughout a space,” she says. The large ottoman is covered in the same fabric as the woven chairs in the adjacent living area, and she repeated some of the textiles she used on the other sofa’s pillows.

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Visbeen Architects

Outdoor Spaces

The indoor spaces extend seamlessly into the outdoor ones. When these motorized screens are up, the outdoor rooms flow to the rest of the patio. Bluestone pavers keep the porch and patios cohesive. The porch includes this dining area and a lounge area around a stone fireplace.

Screens: Phantom Retractable Screens; fireplace: Napoleon Products

Visbeen Architects

First-Floor Master Suite

While the hallway and public spaces line one side of the house, the master suite runs along the other side, behind the garage. The study seen here is versatile enough to serve as both public space or part of the private bedroom suite. This is the view from a pocket door to the left of the living room fireplace.

“During the day they can keep the door into the study open and close off their bedroom. At night they can close the study off from the rest of the house and open it up to their bedroom, making their master suite feel like a hotel suite,” Visbeen says.

The study also serves as an extension of the living room, reading space, home office and TV den. Hickory paneling matches the doors used throughout the home.

Visbeen Architects

Here’s how the study relates to the bedroom when the pocket doors are open. Holmes found a bed that brings in a sophisticated rustic feel with its colorful textured fabric and leather-and-nailhead banding.

The homeowners were starting fresh with all of the furnishings in the house, but they did hang on to their art collection. Holmes found the best places for different pieces around the house.

Visbeen Architects

Watery blues cover the bedroom walls and bathroom vanity.

Visbeen Architects

“You can see this vanity as soon as you enter the study, so we wanted it to be something special,” Holmes says. She designed a furniture-like silhouette for the backsplash and added a beautiful mirror and sconces. The cabinet hardware is bronze.

Visbeen Architects

The master bath also has a generous shower stall with a bench and a freestanding soaking tub.

Visbeen Architects

Second-Floor Spaces

Staying active and working out are important to the homeowners, and they wanted to have a lake view while exercising.

The upstairs plan has a shape similar to a plus sign, with a large square hallway in the center that Visbeen calls “the loft.” “The loft is nicely sized and feels very gracious,” he says. The gym, two bedrooms and the bathroom are located off various sides of the loft’s square shape. The loft itself offers lake views through the exercise room thanks to large hickory pocket doors with glass panes, another of those special touches. “Features like the hickory doors and built-ins let people live bigger in smaller places,” Visbeen says.

Visbeen Architects

The home’s two guest rooms are set beneath the dormers in the roofline. Wainscoting behind this headboard adds an architectural detail. A bed with an open headboard and footboard keeps the modestly size room feeling cozy rather than cramped.

Visbeen Architects

Visbeen divided the second-story bathroom into two spaces: one with two vanities opposite each other and another, separated by a pocket door, containing the toilet and shower stall. When there’s a full house, three people can use the bathroom at once. The clay tile flooring brings in the earthy feel the homeowners like and the brass finishes add more warmth.

Visbeen Architects

Finally, the bunkroom has a king-size bed with space for two more people overhead. Shelves and sconces make the space functional as well as cozy.

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Visbeen Architects and Vision Interiors

Visbeen Architects and Vision Interiors are design firms involved in the creation of the house on Gull Lake near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Visbeen Architects, led by architect Wayne Visbeen, designed the structure of the house, while Vision Interiors, led by interior designer Julie Holmes, handled the interior design aspects [[1]].

House Design and Style

The house on Gull Lake is described as a 2,781-square-foot cottage-meets-Craftsman style home [[1]]. The design is inspired by the lakeside cabins of the region and aims to blend in with the older homes in the area. The exterior features board-and-batten siding, stone chimneys, and accents [[1]]. The design incorporates elements that make the house look like it has been on the lake for decades and has undergone additions over time [[1]].

Exterior Design

Architect Wayne Visbeen aimed to create a home with character while keeping construction costs minimal. The design features a simple structure that is easy and relatively inexpensive to build. This allowed for more budget allocation towards amenities and special touches, such as built-ins [[1]].

The house includes dormers and two areas under gabled roofs on the back: a screened-in porch and a sunroom [[1]]. The porch roofs are made of metal, while the main gable has shingles [[1]]. The design pays homage to regional lake architecture and incorporates Craftsman-inspired style [[1]].

Interior Design and Functionality

The interior design by Julie Holmes of Vision Interiors focuses on creating versatile and flexible spaces that make the living area feel larger [[1]]. The house features a long and narrow lot, and the goal was to maximize functionality, storage, and lake views [[1]].

The hallway of the house includes a drop-off station, coat closet, cabinets, powder room, laundry room, and butler's pantry [[1]]. The arrangement of these elements provides a vista from the front entry to the lake [[1]]. The interior design incorporates hickory floors and doors, tongue-and-groove paneling on the ceilings, and wainscoting to create a cabin vibe [[1]].

The open plan of the house includes the dining room, kitchen, living room, and sun porch [[1]]. The dining room features built-ins in a lake-inspired deep blue, a walnut countertop, and a mirrored backsplash to reflect light and create a sense of expansiveness [[1]]. The kitchen includes a stylish metal hood, hand-painted tile wall, and an island with storage on two sides [[1]]. The butler's pantry serves as a functional space with food storage, a microwave, a coffee station, and a second sink and dishwasher [[1]].

Outdoor Spaces

The house seamlessly extends into outdoor spaces, with motorized screens that can be raised to connect the outdoor rooms to the patio [[1]]. The porch includes a dining area and a lounge area around a stone fireplace [[1]]. Bluestone pavers are used to maintain cohesion between the porch and patios [[1]].

Master Suite and Second-Floor Spaces

The master suite is located on one side of the house, behind the garage [[1]]. It includes a versatile study that can be opened up to the bedroom or closed off from the rest of the house [[1]]. The study serves as a reading space, home office, and TV den [[1]]. The master bedroom and bathroom feature watery blue walls and a furniture-like vanity with bronze hardware [[1]]. The bathroom includes a generous shower stall with a bench and a freestanding soaking tub [[1]].

The second floor of the house includes a loft, gym, two guest rooms, and a bunkroom [[1]]. The loft offers lake views through hickory pocket doors with glass panes [[1]]. The guest rooms are set beneath the dormers in the roofline and feature architectural details such as wainscoting [[1]]. The second-story bathroom is divided into two spaces, allowing multiple people to use it simultaneously [[1]]. The bunkroom includes a king-size bed and functional shelves and sconces [[1]].

I hope this information provides a comprehensive overview of the concepts mentioned in the article. If you have any further questions or need more details, feel free to ask!

Cottage-Meets-Craftsman Style in a Michigan Lake House (2024)
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