New Life for a 1930s Craftsman Home in Leelanau County

Early on, Dan and Marek became acquainted with the son of the couple who built the farm—an elderly gentleman who still lives in the area and delighted in sharing old family photos of the home. The photos revealed the original windows to have been the Craftsman classic, three panes over one pane. Naturally, the partners tracked down replicas, and installed them. All 22 of them.

The bungalow’s interior was decorated as you’d expect, given the home’s recent history: dark veneer paneling, dated carpeting, mustard-colored countertops in the kitchen and even a tub enclosure in an upstairs bathroom that completely blocked a window. Marek and Dan went to work, replacing kitchen cupboards, plumbing and electrical fixtures, ripping out paneling and replacing it with drywall.

There were delightful, if hard won, surprises along the way. After removing two layers of carpet and a glued on pad (inch-by-inch with a wallpaper steamer, chisel and sander) they unearthed the original heart pine floors. Working in an upstairs bedroom, the couple noticed brick underneath the chipped stucco walls. Further investigation yielded the backside of the living room fireplace chimney—plastered over long ago. Now uncovered, the bricks are a handsome architectural element in the dining room and the bedroom above. Finding that the original, formal living room entrance had been walled over, they opened it back up again for access to the old front porch—now the perfect place for cocktails at sunset.

But the pièce de résistance just may have been removing that tub enclosure to find that the bathroom window perfectly frames picturesque Gull Island, a tiny, storied isle near Northport.

In the kitchen, white subway tiles, black soapstone and mahogany-stained butcher-block countertops create a materials scheme that is simultaneously contemporary and honest to the home’s history. The view from the back of the kitchen is of the home’s pastoral side: a sturdy old red barn that Marek and Dan stabilized; a cobblestone pump house; rolling fields where Marek’s Clydesdale grazes.

No one could blame the partners for trying their hands at farming, and so for several years they raised chickens and sheep—selling eggs, wool and grass-fed lamb. Unexpectedly last year, a farm in Wisconsin offered to buy their entire flock of sheep. The partners agreed to sell, and then went ahead and got rid of the chickens as well. Being true to the spirit of an old farmstead is one thing; carving chill-time to soak up one of the most spectacular views on the Leelanau Peninsula, well that’s quite another.

Windy Knob photos just ahead!

Article Comments