The piece of property that Jan and Mark Rickey found on Lake Skegemog several years ago was gorgeous—a huge swath of green lawn rolling down to this pretty lake. But the 1950s-era ranch cabin that came with it, not so much. “When Jan first showed it to me, I said, ‘Well, this is going to be a total transformation …’” interior decorator Kim Hooker of Cedar Creek Interiors relates.

But it is amazing what a bit of wall demo will do for a floor plan; what strategically rebuilding other walls will also do; and what space can be found in converting a six-car garage. Then there is the exuberant style inspiration that comes when a creative homeowner collaborates with a gifted designer and a skilled contractor.

The primary structural changes to the home were opening up and rearranging the kitchen and converting a six-car garage into a wing that houses three bedrooms including a master suite, a small sewing room and a glass-fronted workout room that faces the lake. A new outdoor room off the great room is perfectly outfitted with an outdoor fireplace and big-screen television.

The new layout is pleasing and airy, but it is the design elements that Jan, Kim and contractors Tim and Mike Steffen of Steffen and Sons Contracting and Jen Markey of Thomas Building Design pulled together that really make this home sing.

Super-cool creamy, Chicago brick-style ceramic tile sets a head-turning stage in the new kitchen where navy blue cabinets, brass fixtures and lighting, walnut cabinetry and glossy subway tile look as sharp as a salute. The use of reclaimed doors and lighting that Jan and Kim foraged for on trips together to various Northern Michigan antique architectural element shops (including Deer Creek Junk, Grey Wolf Creek, Architectural Antiquities and Kelly’s Antiques) bring a vintage feel with endless layers of interest. TC Mirror and Shower Door replaced glass and turned old doors into mirrors in feats that turned castoffs into elegant showpieces.


Other touches include reusing the home’s original circa 1940s horizontal pine paneling in the foyer and the guest bathroom. Another don’t miss is the faux brick wall in the master suite that Tim custom made by outlining the brick shapes in wet cement and painting them in weathered shades of red—a touch so cool it needs to be seen to be believed.

An artistic use of stucco is another element that succeeds in elevating this home’s style quotient. See it in the trowel-plastered living room ceiling (which replaces old popcorn tile), in a new fireplace facade that recalls Old World coziness and in this home’s pièce de résistance: a stucco wood-fired pizza oven located between that outdoor room and the water.

No doubt, tourgoers are going to leave this home with visions of reclaiming and reno ideas for their own homes.