Arbor Pines enclave in Glen Arbor, many of the cottages have worn the same name plaques for decades. Bill and Pam Rosenberg are newcomers. Their place is relatively new, too, built in 1990. But ever since buying the one-story home two years ago, the Rosenbergs have intended to pass it on to their four children and grandchildren via a family trust—so that theirs can become one of the lucky families who have gathered on the shores of Sleeping Bear Bay for generations.

“We want it to stay in the family without a lot of maintenance costs,” Bill says, explaining why the extensive remodeling of the cottage by Paul Maurer General Contracting began with the replacement of the mechanical systems—plumbing, electrical, lighting, and heating and cooling. The new equipment is top notch and, as is fitting—given Rosenberg’s background as a former Environmental Protection Agency official and energy wonk—it leaves a light carbon footprint.

So when Bill gives a tour of the cottage, he ushers visitors to the walkout basement where the utility room is as organized and tidy as a ship’s engine room. He points out the high-efficiency furnace with dual zone settings, the tankless water heater, and the industrial-grade dehumidifier. “I’ve never seen such a clean job,” Rosenberg says, admiring the orderly piping and ductwork. “It’s almost a work of art.”

He is especially proud of the dehumidifier that converted this dank lower level into a dry and cozy space for their four young granddaughters who bunk there when they visit. Use of this walkout basement, combined with the main floor, brought the home’s livable space to 3,500 square feet—a size that comfortably sleeps 14 people. In the summer the Rosenbergs revel in filling the cottage with family.

But Bill, an avid Nordic skier, also enjoys coming up in the winter when the cottage draws smaller crowds. Then, the dual-zone furnace means that he has the ability to heat only the main floor. “We can use this level comfortably and not feel like we have this big monster house,” Bill says. “The cottage lives cozy, but it expands.”

Photo(s) by Brian Confer