Call it an unusual match: Beth McCarthy and the house she and her husband, Michael, purchased seven years ago. McCarthy, then the owner of Les Femmes boutique in Bay Harbor, is stylish, beautiful, well traveled. The house? An ordinary 1969 bilevel that spoke of bunk beds and school-lunch PB& J’s made on the Brady Bunch–era yellow Formica kitchen counters. Even the “groovy” (McCarthy’s word) orange and hot pink floral wallpaper in one of the bedrooms had endured.

But McCarthy loved the home’s layout—from its neighborly come-on-in-for-a-martini foyer to the four bedrooms upstairs. She also knew that with savvy editing and her own fresh, Euro-looking style she could transform the home from a has-been to a retro sophisticate.

McCarthy began the makeover with two basic guidelines. Number one was replacing all appliances, lighting and plumbing, from the gold refrigerator to the archaic toilets. The second: give the home a neutral backdrop to allow her eclectic style to pop. With that second rule in mind, McCarthy took a cue from the home’s original beige shag carpeting and replaced it with a more contemporary shag. Next she painted over the moss green walls and red brick hearth in the downstairs living area and gave the brown laminate cupboards that flank the hearth a couple of coats of black lacquer. The use of black in the living room plays off of the Mediterranean-influenced black tiles and clean-lined wrought-iron banister in the adjoining foyer—both elements original to the home that McCarthy decided to keep.

She wasn’t so magnanimous about anything in the kitchen. Working with designers from the Petoskey-based Kitchen & Co., McCarthy got rid of everything but the paned windows that look out onto the tree-filled backyard went—replacing it with an ebony-stained bamboo floor, Carrera marble counters, a bevel-edged white subway tile backsplash, sea grass wallpaper, and white cupboards and open shelves. A stainless hood and stove and a white floating-glass refrigerator round out a look that is equal parts neutral backdrop and glowingly Euro. McCarthy spiced it up with splashes of color—her Swedish grandmother’s bright blue and white Delft pottery peeks out from shelves, and a set of bright-red Hermès plates hang on the wall. 

In the breakfast nook McCarthy, boldly paired an industrial-sized stainless pendant light with her grandmother’s antique gate-leg table. A banquette covered in fabric designer Lulu Dk’s Moondance pulls the contrasting looks together. The blue and white Swedish-inspired motif is fresh and young but rooted in tradition—a description that could just as well be applied to the banquette’s owner.


Interior Designer
Beth McCarthy, Petoskey, 231-675-7872 

Garden supplies
Christians’ Renolda Greenhouse & Garden Center, Harbor Springs, 231-526-2851  

Todd Vandenbrink, Traverse City,

Kitchen design
Kitchen & Co., Petoskey, 231-348-6906,  

Bamboo Flooring, subway Tile
Builders Flooring Outlet, Harbor Springs,

Furnishings & accessories
L’Esprit, Harbor Springs, 231-526-9644; Pillows, foyer rug: Jonathan Adler,; kitchen banquette fabric: Lulu Dk Fabrics,  

PaintBenjamin Moore

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski