A half-century after it was the avant-garde design in the area, this Glen Arbor home gets a new look for a young family.

This home is featured in the June 2018 issue of Northern Home & Cottage.

Hands down, Roberta Seeburger was the most stylish woman in Glen Arbor in the early 1970s. Back then, she and her husband, Jim, had recently moved from New York City to property he’d purchased on Fisher Lake (a small lake that feeds into the Glen Lakes) years before. Up until their permanent move to Glen Arbor, they’d summered on the land in a one-room cabin that Roberta referred to as the “Hideaway Hovel.”

Roberta admired the work of architect Tom Phillips who was designing some of the first condominiums at nearby The Homestead resort. The Seeburgers hired him with several stipulations: that there would be an art studio for Roberta and an indoor hot tub room. In New York City Roberta had owned The Hot Tub Company, makers of huge, cedar barrel-tubs that were the precursors of the now ubiquitous spa and outdoor hot tubs.

Phillips executed her wishes with aplomb, designing a tri-level home flooded with light and views of Fisher Lake. True to his mission, the home featured a glassed-in solarium for the hot tub (“My orchids loved the moisture,” Roberta recalls). The natural light-filled art studio was a runway loft with a view out to the lake and down into the living room on one side, and down into the foyer on the other.

Flash-forward some 40 years. The home is owned now by Michael and Kenna McDonald and their three young daughters—stylish women all. Kenna’s parents purchased the home from the Seeburgers in the 1970s, so she grew up in the house with its cedar hot tub-solarium (considered quirky-cool by the 1980s) and crafting with her mom and sister in the art studio. There was also a galley kitchen—one that was largely cut off from the living area by a giant fireplace.

Having spent her childhood in the home, Kenna had no problem knowing how she wanted to transform the home for her family’s modern lifestyle. Opening up that galley kitchen was job one. Working with kitchen and bath designer Marty Rhein of Bay Area Contracting, Kenna shaped a plan that included removing the fireplace to create an L-shaped great room. The center of the kitchen is a fabulous 39-by-95-inch island topped with a 3-inch quartz countertop (looks like marble but holds up better). The island base and all of the perimeter cabinetry is custom-made by the Elk Rapids-based Wooden Hammer and painted a Farrow & Ball shade called Cyberspace. Elements including white subway tile with dark grout, a wall of white shiplap, floating shelves and white oak flooring create a warm, contemporary ambiance. A prep sink, SubZero refrigerator and commercial style Wolf Range round out this cook’s kitchen.

The McDonalds’ renovation went on to include transforming a cubby once used for fireplace-firewood into a living area bar, and replacing the original popcorn ceiling with white-washed pine deck. On the exterior, the couple updated the taupe cedar siding by painting it a deep-blue trimmed in crisp white exterior—a look that is ready to take the home into the new mid-century.

The art studio on the loft runway, designed by Tom Phillips so many years ago, is still just that—now filled with paper, crayons, scraps of cloth and other trappings of this creative family. And that hot tub solarium? It has become a fabulous master bath, the old cedar tub replaced with a sophisticated soaking tub that whispers relaxation with a subtle, contemporary accent.

Home Resources

Contractor: New Frontier Construction, LLC

Kitchen and Bath Design: Marty Rhein, Bay Area Contracting, Traverse City

Cabinetry: Wooden Hammer LTD, Williamsburg

Flooring: Floor Covering Brokers, Traverse City

Appliances: Max’s Appliance, Traverse City


Have a renovation project you’ve been wanting to tackle? Building a new home? Find the right person for the job in MyNorth’s Home Services Directory.

Click the cover to read the latest issue of Northern Home & Cottage.

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Northern Michigan Homes & Cottages

Photo(s) by Dave Speckman