A designer turns her talents to helping a couple live long and comfortably in their lovely Walloon Lake home.

In the great room of a stately white cottage, tucked under a red roof, there is a domino game in progress. Nearly every evening the game picks up where it left off the previous night, and never actually ends—although the two competitors, who play for money, settle up on New Year’s Day each year. It is all in fun, of course. This is that kind of home. The couple’s children and grandchildren come and go. Stories are read aloud on the cozy reading bed that is snuggled next to the great-room fireplace, delicious and memorable family dinners happen in warm weather on the generous deck that overlooks Walloon Lake.

Copyrighted Dave Speckman

This cottage was built in the footprint of a much older cottage the couple had owned for several years. They’d spent enough time in the old cottage to grow fond of its white clapboard siding, red-shingled roof and deep deck overlooking Walloon Lake—so they knew they would replicate those elements. Their experience on the property had also helped them understand the sun’s interaction with the wooded setting—so they knew they wanted a generous vaulted ceiling in the great room to usher in light.

When it came to thinking through how they wanted to finish that ceiling, the homeowners turned to designer Laura Gray of Plum Tree Interiors, who has extensive experience in wood-trim design. Since the couple knew they would carpet the great room’s living area (wood floors and area rugs being trip-risks) Laura helped them understand that the ceiling could be an alternative vehicle for providing the classic warmth of wood. The finished masterpiece of titian-toned Douglas fir, painted-white exposed trusses and soft, welcoming lighting enfolds the room and the people in it like a great ark.


Copyrighted Dave Speckman

Laura went on to re-invent the forever-home design playbook with ingenious touches including having “grips” beveled into the underside of the granite countertops in the kitchen in lieu of grab bars in the event they should be needed. She brought similar careful insight to the doorways. The width for universally accessible doorways is considered to be from 32 to 36 inches to make room for walkers and wheelchairs. While the latter width is easier to maneuver, “we often associate it with commercial spaces so you have to balance where you really need it and where you can close it up a bit,” she explains.

Those functional details flow seamlessly into the rest of the home’s beautiful style—a style that reflects a deep understanding of home as revealed in touches like anchoring the great room at one end with the (genuine) stone fireplace and at the other with the stove hood. With accordingly exquisite attention to detail, the lighting is situated so that the two hearths cast shadows on each other. Fire, water and family: It all adds up to a long and happy life in  this home.


June:July NHC Cover



This Walloon Lake home was originally featured in the June 2016 issue of Northern Home & Cottage.
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Photo(s) by Dave Speckman