The 2014 Northern Home & Cottage Home Tour takes place on Saturday, September 13th from 10 am to 5 pm and will guide curious fans of Northern Michigan home and cottage design through the gamut of home styles—from the ultra modern to the epic timber-and-stone masterpiece, Pine Hollow. Proceeds raised during the home tour will benefit Northern Michigan non-profit, Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan. The first of ten stops on the tour is a European-inflected home on Torch Lake, located at 6672 Crystal Beach Rd. in Rapid City.

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Beyond a small sketch and the fact that his clients, the Steenblik family, wanted to integrate a touch of their native Netherlands into the design, builder Aaron Draper didn’t have a lot to go on when he began designing their home on Torch Lake. That was fine with Aaron, who is gaining renown for his ability to channel his clients’ desires and then customize them in spectacularly creative ways.

Finished after three years of meticulous craftsmanship, the Steenblik home resembles a fine European lake estate. Aaron achieved the look on the exterior using a combination of cedar shake, dimensional chalet buff stone in varying size and thickness, mahogany doors and cedar eaves and fascia. A wavy steel roof finished in asphalt looks like tile, but will endure much longer. A balcony set under a gable above the front entrance is framed in tapered columns and an eyebrow beam. With its wrought iron railing, well, fraaii!

The inside parlays the old country estate theme with hand-scraped cherry floors, distressed Douglas fir beams and built-ins made from barn wood taken off the Steenbliks’ own farm downstate. At the home’s center, the ceiling rises to a grand 20 feet with a matching glassed-in view of Torch Lake. A double-sided stone fireplace burns in both the great room and a mahogany-paneled library.


The finished walkout lower level is a oenophile’s dream—oh yes, other fine drinks are poured here too! Aaron fashioned a rounded bar out of a slab of hickory burl and mounted it on barrel-shaped maple planks. Three chalet buff stone alcoves faced with barn siding house glasses and beverage bottles. The wine cellar, tucked across the room, echoes the rustic stone and barn wood theme.

If you can pull yourself away from the bar and wine cellar, take time to admire the incredible, tiered lakeside grounds, a byproduct of Aaron working with Active Excavating and 365 Outdoor. As home #1 on our 2014 Northern Home & Cottage tour, the home we call European Accent begins the tour with an elegant bang.

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