Lou hired like-minded contractor Don Lewis, owner of Crystal River Corporation to build the home. Don and Lou had worked together several times over two decades. They found they both were perfectionists and share a love of architecture, as well. Theirs is, Don points out, an unusual relationship in the architect/builder world where there is often tension between the designer and the tradespeople. “We both strive for quality and we enjoy pushing each other creatively—it’s really a match made in heaven,” he says.
This neat joinery of seasoned architect and builder included Crystal River Corporation’s crew of highly skilled carpenters—made up primarily of two generations of the Plamondon family who descend from a long line of French Canadian craftsmen. (Serendipitously, Lou’s father and grandfather were French Canadian architects—though his father moved to Detroit in 1920 and designed a number of prominent buildings there.) “This was a very sophisticated structural and aesthetic design and the crew’s attention to detail was excellent,” Lou says.
From that exquisite entrance, the house that Lou designed and Crystal River Corporation built unfolds in clean lines so effortlessly that one’s eye barely strays from the lake view. Again, details large and small make the difference. The floors and the trim and sleek kitchen cupboards are a concert of mahogany—soothing background music to the view-crescendo. Lou substituted unobtrusive butt joints for mullions in the magnificent 7-by-10-foot, inch-thick bronze-tinted glass panes that flank the home’s lake façade; the effect is of an invisible wall. “When we have people visit, they sometimes forget to go outside because they think they are outside,” Lou says.
And when the summer sun sets over Good Harbor Bay, it shines smack dab through those stellar panes of glass, across the great room and through the front door. A celestial detail that Lou envisioned way back when he pounded a stake into the Leelanau County soil.