Northern Michigan Events: I like to tell my husband that my kitchen is in that crawlspace,” says Nan Lickteig of Honor, MI, referring to the $60,000 worth of emergency repairs required to keep the crawlspace from flooding. Nan and her husband Marty bought their dream home along the Platte River, not far from Traverse City, five years ago. She’s been planning her kitchen renovation since then, strategically preparing her deployment of every Ultimate Up North Kitchen Tour like a military exercise.  

In a round about way, the military not only spirited Marty and Nan away from Northern Michigan, it brought them back. Nan grew up in Leland and Marty graduated from St. Francis. Marty spent 20 years in the military and then took a civilian job at the Pentagon in Washington DC. Nan too, worked at the Pentagon. And they talked about retiring home to Northern Michigan.

“I came home for all the reasons I left 40 years ago.”

The 9/11 attack on the Pentagon struck the “wedge” where both Nan and Marty worked. Luckily it had just been renovated and most of the employees, like Nan, had not yet relocated back into the new offices. Marty’s company was not so fortunate and he lost 7 colleagues that day. Marty himself was out of the office early and was on his way to the office when Nan called to tell him the news.  

“9/11 took a toll on us,” explains Nan. And when his company first offered Marty his retirement paperwork, he filled it out without even calling her. “He kinda jumped the gun; it was sooner than I expected. He came home and told me, ‘Well, I’ve retired, let’s go back to Michigan.’”  

Renovating the kitchen would have been her first project, except the flooded crawlspace and other emergencies demanded immediate attention and budget. With those projects behind her, Nan dreams of better organization in her cabinets.  

“I have to crawl in some of them to reach what’s inside,” she complains. And she’d like a pantry, so she’ll move the laundry room into the garage. There’s a bathroom that’s attached that needs to be redone as well.  

Nan has attended all three of the Ultimate Up North Kitchen Tours. The couple tries to fit in as many kitchens as possible in the day, but sometimes they haven’t gotten all the way Up North to the Petoskey area kitchens. She tears apart the preview issue of Northern Home & Cottage, putting a sheet of paper next to each kitchen where she writes her notes. She staples the cards of all the contractors on the sheet so she knows who did what work. When she can, she tries to talk with all the National Kitchen & Bath Association designers, admitting that sometimes designers are busy talking with others and they have to move on to hit all the kitchens within the day. But that’s okay because she sees them the next year.  

For her fourth Ultimate Up North Kitchen Tour, Nan is interested in a couple of the kitchens in the Charlevoix area that are her taste. And she wants to take the Ironton Ferry described in the preview issue of Northern Home & Cottage, so they’ll see the East Jordan home. And the Leland kitchen interests her, too. After this tour, she plans on putting all the images of what she wants on a poster board so she can share her vision with the kitchen designer. Nan thinks she has it narrowed down to three designers, hoping to decide who will renovate her kitchen after this year’s tour.  

From her windows, Nan watches the ducks on the Platte River. A dozen deer cross her property regularly to get to the Platte River, or come from upstream, walking in the water for her entertainment.  

“I came home for all the reasons I left 40 years ago,” says Nan. “It’s quiet, there’s nothing to do but swim and hike, and when we were young that wasn’t enough. A lot has changed in 40 years. Now, Traverse City has so much entertainment: the Traverse City Film Festival, Interlochen, the big acts that come to the casinos …” says, her voice trailing off. Then excitement sends her voice up an octave and she exclaims, “There’s everything that anyone needs here.”  

Including a home on the Platte River where one can watch the ducks and plan a new kitchen.

Take the 4th annual Ultimate Up North Kitchen Tour and check out Nan's inspiration for her Northern Michigan dream kitchen.

Photo(s) by Northern Home & Cottage October issue