For a site that straddles two of Northern Michigan’s signature landscapes, a woods-and-water home emerges from the inventive mind of architect Joseph Mosey.
Stand in the woods near the Lake Michigan shore on a windy day and listen to the waves crashing, muffled by curtains of leaves and moss carpeting. This is a rare place—where earth and wood meet water and air in a stunning elemental collision. In one such pristine place, near the minuscule hamlet of Eastport, north of Traverse City, Joseph Mosey designed a house that manages to nod diplomatically in both directions.
Mosey’s clients had regularly visited friends who lived just down the beach from the property. On their visits, they’d often walked past a small cottage there, not giving it much thought. But when the home came on the market, the friends persuaded them that the property was worth a look. The tiny, old cottage was overgrown but sited nicely, and the couple knew they could easily place a home in the same spot.
The couple envisioned a house inspired by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mosey explains that most of his own work fits Wright’s principle of integrating the structure with the landscape. Wright’s philosophy is reflected in this home, says Mosey, in the way the layout “takes you from the intimate scale of the forest to the grand scale of the lake.”
Photos by Beth Singer
Mosey and the homeowners chose Maple Ridge Construction to bring the house to life. This was the fourth time the couple had built a custom home, and they were prepared for the compromises that usually accompany the process. But according to them, “There were minimal changes. It was surprisingly painless.”
The new house is large, lounging along the dune and settling into its natural contours. A clapboard exterior in rust and charcoal with a slightly sloping metal roof hints at cabin vernacular, while sand-colored stone and expanses of glass give it the airiness that every beach house should have. On the approach, a full-glass dogtrot offers a glimmer of the lake beyond the house, a truly transparent space that breaks up the mass of the structure.
The lake side of the house takes full advantage of the views through expansive glass.
Inside, views toward both the lake and the woods emphasize the placement of the house between two different and equally beautiful environments. The middle section is mostly glass that is well-braced to protect against sometimes brutal westerly winds. The same western exposure displays vivid sunsets, though, and the owners can choose most any room in the house to watch them.
Straight lines and a cohesive materials palette throughout achieve a minimalistic but warm interior. Designer Linda Shears chose interior finishes to complement the custom woodwork and natural stone crafted by the Maple Ridge crew. A color scheme of golden wheat and amber envelops every space, drawing from the towering stonework both inside and out. Masons worked about 14 months, selecting and placing every stone to maintain a natural-looking horizontal orientation that fits the lines of the architecture.
Scandinavian furnishings fit the clean lines of the architecture and keep the focus on the endless blue views.
As the house stretches along the beach, sets of interior steps follow the rolling earth, creating a subtle sense of division in the open plan. The glassy central section of the home encloses a kitchen, breakfast nook, living room with a grand hearth over a Scandinavian woodstove, and a formal dining area. The entire space has endless views of water and sky, clear to Northport, about nine miles away.
Just beyond the semi-formal dining space lies the fully windowed dogtrot leading to the master suite. The home office can serve as an extra guest room, and its intimate window nook makes an inviting rainy-day retreat.
The master suite is accessed through the window-lined dogtrot. It feels like going outside, but it’s a lot more pajama-friendly in winter. Gentle rays of the golden hour fill the west-facing master suite every evening. Window treatments are remote-controlled.
A small office has a forest view and a unique window seat that beckons for reading and naps. Upstairs, a bridge connecting two more bedroom suites overlooks the foyer and living space, and through the high windows, the lakeside patio and its beach.
Outdoor spaces smoothly integrate, with only a few feet dropping to the sand. Landscape terracing on the shore side of the house steps gradually, allowing for a clear view without railings, and more stone ties the landscaping with the structure. For a site that displays such beautiful contrast, Mosey tailored a perfect fit with a design that’s part cabin, part modern beach villa.
Featured in the June 2017 issue of Northern Home and Cottage. Get your copy.
Northern Home and Cottage Resources:
Joseph Mosey Architecture, Inc., Elk Rapids and Northville, 248.515.4477
Contracting, Carpentry, Cabinetry
Maple Ridge Construction, Williamsburg, 231.642.5775
Linda Shears Designs, Troy, 248.877.3994
Landscape Logic, Charlevoix, 231.547.3472
Gorman’s, 6 downstate locations, 248.473.9131