Brenda and Steve loved their 17 years living and working in the alpine village of Grainau, Germany, located at the foot of the Zugspitze, but they always knew they’d settle in Suttons Bay for retirement. Steve’s parents had lived there and consequently they’d visited every summer. Steve had even spent years sketching out their dream retirement home—a design that he envisioned as a contemporary Craftsman.
When the time finally came to move back to the states, the couple purchased this gorgeous, approximately four-acre, property on an orchard-covered slope with a view of West Grand Traverse Bay. On the March day in 2018 that the couple closed on it, Steve posed for a photo on the huge boulder that still sits atop the hill, just feet from where their new home would stand.
Mike Ferraro and his team at The Ferraro Group proved to be the perfect partners for building the home. “We ended up being friends after the project was completed,” Brenda says. “I’m not sure that happens in the client/builder relationship all that often.”
Mike ensured the plans incorporated features of Aging in Place and compliance with American Disabilities Act—such as curbless showers, no step from garage to house, making sure thresholds are smooth and that doorways and halls are wide enough for wheelchairs, among other things. The features, standard in a Ferraro-built home, were particularly important to the couple as they’d watched Steve’s aging father struggle in a difficult-to-navigate home.
The end product of plenty of thought, skill and dedication on everyone’s part is a stunning contemporary Craftsman with a soft German accent. The facade is a medley of sage siding trimmed in cream, stacked stone pedestals, tapered cedar-colored columns and cedar shakes on the gables. Brick-colored trusses in the eaves feel simultaneously Craftsman and alpine.
Inside, mustard-colored walls, a distressed oak floor and subtly elegant white coffered ceilings set a gracious, traditional tone. The open kitchen is outfitted with maple cabinetry and a maple-paneled refrigerator. The island base is custom painted a soft sage—a touch Ferraro arranged especially for Brenda. The soft taupe, green and deep red-toned slab of Bordeaux River granite that tops the island pulls together the room’s entire palette. And not to be overlooked is the hand-hewn fireplace mantle Mike made himself expressly for the homeowners from a tree he cut on their property.
The back deck wraps from off the great room to the master suite, offering an inspirational view that rolls across the orchard down to a generous sliver of blue bay on the horizon.
The master suite in this house has a particularly warm Old World feel, a tone that is set just outside the door with an Italian hand-carved statue of the Madonna and Child. A sweet pair of antique German chairs mixed with the couple’s family antiques accentuate that feeling. The master bath continues the theme with stunning green Verde marble counters set off by a deep-toned cherry vanity.
A charming guest suite rounds out the ground floor. The lower level houses two more guest rooms and a bath. This walkout level is also where the couple is creating a Gemütliches (meaning cozy niche)—the beginning of which is a massive tile woodstove imported from Germany.