He’s all about the lodge look. She leans toward vintage cottage. Their Harbor Springs home is the perfect blend.

This article was featured in the April 2017 issue of Northern Home & Cottage. Subscribe for stunning home ideas delivered to your door. 

Paul and Susan Opfermann wholeheartedly agreed on one thing: That they had found the perfect site to build their retirement home. After a decade of searching, they felt that fate had guided them to a spectacular bluff-top parcel overlooking Little Traverse Bay, just north of Harbor Springs. The couple stumbled on it while checking out another property nearby. A neighbor came out to chat and pointed out the piece next door, telling them her cousin was selling it. “There was no sign. If she hadn’t seen us, we never would have known it was available,” Paul says.

While the couple knew they wanted to build on the site, what to build wasn’t quite as clear. He liked the lodge look. She yearned for a vintage cottage feel—white beadboard and all. The couple did agree that whatever the style, they wanted the house to maximize the views, which sweep out over Lake Michigan.

It turns out, you can have it all. Architect Fredrick Crosley Ball, working closely with the Opfermanns and Scott Kennard of Wentworth Builders, designed a stunningly handsome home marked by a harmonious blend of stone and wood inside and out, and by its expansive views of the lake. Ball, with Susan’s help, also adeptly married the lodge look with vintage cottage style—an outcome that satisfies both homeowners. In the foyer, for instance, Susan juxtaposed cottagey pale green walls, with the warm wood tones of vertical grain Douglas fir ceiling, trim and heart-pine floor. While an almost exclusive use of wood in the great room spells out lodge style, Ball had the ceiling clad in fir beadboard—the most traditional of cottage surface materials, though more often it is painted white.

The massive fieldstone fireplace in the great room says lodge in authoritative style, while the stone range hood opposite it in the kitchen catches the same tones. But there again, masculine refrains are balanced by soft, feminine creamy white cupboards and shiplap on the ceiling. The same soft painted surfaces are carried through the raised coffered ceilings in the dining room.

The home’s exquisite use of detail creates a serene atmosphere that doesn’t detract from the main attraction: the view out the many windows. Sunsets followed by star-gazing are a nightly event all year round. That connection to nature extends to the outside where a magnificent slate-floored gazebo houses another fieldstone fireplace and a generous farm table. (The all-important Big Green Egg grill sits nearby!)

From the gazebo, the grounds move from manicured grass bordered by a perennial garden of hydrangea, coneflowers, lady’s mantle and black-eyed Susan to the tangle of nature down the steep bank. Lodge or vintage cottage, the Opfermann home feels like it has been on this bluff for a very long time—and was meant to be here. “Everything I do starts with the site plan … that’s job one,” says Ball. “Acknowledging the environment, the wind and the sun, is where it all starts. Each site and house has its own feeling. You have to respect and work with that.”

Khristi Sigurdson Zimmeth is an award-winning travel and home writer.
Photography by Dave Speckman.

This feature first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Northern Home and Cottage.
Your copy is available here.

Northern Home and Cottage Resources

Frederick Crosley Ball, Harbor Springs, frederickcrosleyball.com

Wentworth Builders, Harbor Springs, wentworthbuilders.com

Common Grounds Landscape Design, Boyne City, commongroundlandscapes.com
Richard Hoffman Landscaping, Petoskey, 231.347.0630

Fireplace, Stone Materials
Emmet Brick & Block, Petoskey, emmetbrick.com

Handcrafted Fireplace Doors
Ironhaus, Inc., Montana, ironhaus.com

Giovanni Longo, Harbor Springs, 231.536.0256

Lumber, Architectural Details, Windows, Doors
Preston Feather Building Centers, Petoskey, prestonfeather.com

Russell Hardware, Harbor Springs, russellhardware.com

Thomas & Milliken Millwork, Traverse City, tmmill.com

Kitchen Design
Greetis Design (formerly Kitchen & Company), Walloon Lake, 231.348.6906

Phillips Painting, Harbor Springs, 231.347.3136

Wood Floors
Pinecraft Wood Floors Harbor Springs, 231.526.8050

More Beautiful Homes in Northern Michigan:

The Happily Ever After Cottage on Mullett Lake

Bellaire Bed & Breakfast: House of Seven Gardens

Modern Magnificence: Glen Lake Home Gets Contemporary Remodel

Sustainable Leelanau County Home Breaks the Mold on Energy Efficiency

Photo(s) by Dave Speckman