Northern Michigan Living: For some, the perfect Up North vacation home is a tiny cabin in the woods or a cottage on a tree-lined street. For others, it’s all about creature comforts and refined style. Few homes achieve a high level of luxury while still looking appropriate in the North’s cottagey neighborhoods. One traditional home on Eagle Island (actually a peninsula) on the west side of Walloon Lake pulls it off with an air of casual class.

The architecture recalls the region’s luxury cottages from the early 20th century, with generous porches, mullioned windows, cross-gable rooflines and a stone driveway. From the lake, the house displays a stately but humble character, very present but not imposing—an effect due largely to the carefully planned landscaping.

Taking cues from the architecture, Jeff Hennig of Environmental Artists designed a landscaping plan that’s traditional but edited. Based on a three-dimensional grid aligned with the house, the plan subtly divides the site into functional and aesthetic sections using rectilinear hardscape elements against the organic curves of the land. Hennig describes the gridded plantings as a quilt laid over the land. Over the next few years, the two species of junipers he selected will grow together, their mounded shapes and subtle color differences creating an undulating harlequin pattern on the hillside.

Steep grades and the owner’s desire to keep existing trees presented design and construction challenges for Hennig and his team. To better integrate the house with the site, the stonemasons built a granite plinth that also serves as a generous outdoor entertaining and relaxation area.

It’s easy to see the beautiful balance between rustic and formal elements in the garden’s design. Rough Canadian limestone outcrops are set against smooth bluestone steps. The patterned junipers contrast with the natural growth of the hardwoods and conifers, all of which were preserved.

The centerpiece of the lakeside landscape is a granite pump house and storage room set into the hill, saving trees and hiding the irrigation equipment that commonly dots shorelines. Bob Drost of Drost Landscape engineered and built the structure to blend with the site’s natural contours.

The stylistic balance is visible inside the home as well, where the team of architect Joseph Mosey, contractor Young and Meathe and interior designer Lucy Earl, developed a look that’s luxurious and traditional, yet appropriate for the lakeside setting. Earl considered every detail throughout the  house. Extensive use of wood, textiles and a wide array of tile bring warmth and texture to each room. A soothing blue-and-green palette carries the mood of Walloon’s turquoise water right into the open great room.

The floor plan meanders but maintains a scale that feels comfortable and old—in a good way. Upstairs, the gables and dormers form small, inviting spaces within and adjacent to the bedrooms. A wood-paneled library feels like it’s perched in the treetops, and one bedroom glows with sunset-hued walls.

The ground-level walk-out basement is a bit more casual, given its immediate access to the water. Behind century-old doors in the second gourmet kitchen, there’s a wine cellar and tasting room. The kitchen’s other door leads to a stone patio and a dock with a flag—a wide deck built onto the end—that provide additional outdoor entertaining space.

Inside and out, every detail has been styled to tasteful, traditional perfection. Carefully milled woodwork, artisan-quality tile, harmonious colors and natural materials make appealing spaces for lingering and watching Walloon—the ultimate luxurious accessory.

This article was first published in the April/May issue of Northern Home & Cottage. Get your copy included for free in the April 2012 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.


Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski