Northern Michigan Resorts: A makeover of a posh Bay Harbor penthouse raises the roof on space and style.

Just inside the foyer in elegant Penthouse 56, perched atop The Lodge in Bay Harbor’s Marina District, five small cast-metal figures rappel down chains in whimsical relief from the vanilla-colored wall where they hang. The tiny climbers are both conversation starters and more than a little metaphoric for the story of this Bay Harbor penthouse. Two years ago, in what was surely one of the greatest renovation feats ever undertaken in Northern Michigan resort architecture, the penthouse, already 55 feet above Lake Michigan, received a second story.

It’s hardly that the owners were looking for a better view. No need to expound on the grand sweep of landscape that unfurls past the folding glass wall, called a NanaWall, that lines the entire length of the apartment. The panorama takes in much of what makes this resort on Lake Michigan one of the most prestigious on the Great Lakes: the 112-slip marina, 118 yacht docks, well-appointed swim and fitness club and Lake Michigan stretching to the horizon. So what impelled the renovation? Like many homeowners, the owners of Penthouse 56 were looking to utilize wasted space in the roof system above the ceiling—and in this case, make room for five guest suites (bringing the grand total of suites in the penthouse to eight) to create the ultimate vacation destination for their family and friends.

Bloomfield Hills-based Arteva Homes performed the epic roof-raising operation. As Arteva owner Vito Terracciano is quick to point out, the project was more than adding a second floor. It was, in fact, adding a fifth floor to the four-story building—a building that has been filled with shops and residences since it was built over 10 years ago. The complex engineering entailed going into the shops and some of the residences to cut through dry wall and cement and then reinforce the shear wall.

Once the support was prepared, a huge crane was used to pull off the existing roof and replace the truss system to make room for the second floor. The work had to be done in the winter, when the crowds, who throng the streets in summer, thin. The task also included having the building’s interior exposed to the elements for 30 days. “The exciting thing was that it went without a hitch,” Terracciano says. “There was not a complaint.”

Terracciano’s crew went on to redo the beams in the unit’s two magnificent sunburst ceiling domes, then add an abundance of elegant architectural touches (curved walls, curved glass stair banister, a lanai fireplace …) to the trophy property.

With the heavy construction finished, enter interior decorator Susan Winton-Feinberg, ASAID, of Walter Herz Interior in Bloomfield hills. Winton-Feinberg, who has worked with the homeowners previously, created intimate nooks within the 5,700-square-foot first level, scaled to both family occasions and large parties. A main corridor inlaid with chocolate-brown porcelain tiles leads from the foyer, past the den and through a cocktail area that features a 13 -foot-long banquette. From there, the room spreads into an open kitchen and dining area that features high-end appliances, a hidden caterer’s kitchen and a mini in-home–sports bar—bar seating flanked by a big screened television.

Winton-Feinberg went on to define the style, soft transitional, and the color palette—taupe tones that feel cool in summer and cozy in winter. And she chose materials that would hold up well in a vacation home. Porcelain tile can take foot traffic straight in from the beach; textured upholstery is equipped to handle heavy-duty lounging. Sound choices all, because as elegant as it is, Penthouse 56 is every square foot a beach house—connected by view and amenities to all that makes Northern Michigan a world-class vacation destination. It’s a place for coming in from the beach to dress for dinner at trendy Cava restaurant tucked in the Bay Harbor village below the penthouse, for putting your feet up and cracking a beer after a day charter fishing on the big lake, or simply for watching the sun melt into Lake Michigan from the balcony and its unforgettable view.

Photo(s) by Paquette Photography