Northern Michigan Home & Cottage: Environmental Flourish

Northern Michigan Home & Cottage: Leafy tomato plants dotted with green and crimson-ripe fruit look out of place against the arctic backdrop of a 3-degree January day on Old Mission Peninsula. But here at Nathan and Stephanie Schultz’s new home, the juxtaposition is not surprising at all—it’s the very intentional product of architecture designed  to enrich the lives of its inhabitants. Architect Ray Kendra of Environment Architects in Traverse City says that the plan for the modern hillside structure grew from its southeast corner, where he placed the couple’s greenhouse to capture the sunlight that feeds lush beds of vegetables all year long. The greenhouse is just one way the architect blurred the lines between the home’s minimalist indoors and its woods-and-water outdoors.

In 2012, the Schultzes moved from small quarters in urban Los Angeles to this rolling 42-acre parcel that rises high between East and West Grand Traverse Bays north of Traverse City. They wanted a major change, and they craved space. Accordingly, the 3,750-square-foot house has a wide-open floor plan and three patios that extend the living areas in the warmer months.

“We eat dinner out here most nights in the summer,” says Nathan of the wide bay-view porch that’s set behind an accordion-folding glass wall off the living room. The sheltered, concrete slab has sunset views and a fireplace that beckons even in the shoulder seasons. A ground-level patio off the daylight basement and a sunny deck off the guest room fulfill the need for what the architect calls “outdoor experiences.”

Kendra’s philosophy harmonized with Nathan and Stephanie’s vision of a secluded, modernist house where “the views are the art,” says Nathan. “We didn’t want a lot of walls. We wanted to emphasize the trees and seasonal changes and let that be the art.”