A Lake Bellaire Home Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright

A visionary couple, a Northern Michigan architect and a building team construct a new Lake Bellaire home that echoes the great master’s sensibilities.

Featured in the February 2020 issue of Northern Home & Cottage. Read it now.

Perched on a steep hill overlooking Lake Bellaire, the Beck home nests seamlessly into its Northern Michigan setting—thanks to its stacked-stone foundation, low-pitched roof, deep eaves and burnt red siding, a color Frank Lloyd Wright might have called Cherokee Red. It’s easy to believe the great architect would have approved of the entire home, given that the homeowners, Ken Beck and his wife, Jana Tuckerman, did copious research on his style before they began the building process. Included in their research were field trips to Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob in Pennsylvania and the Seth Peterson Cottage in Wisconsin.

Research aside, the couple has plenty of cred for taking on a new build that walks in famous footsteps. Ken is a commercial electrical contractor who has built and renovated several homes of his own. Jana, a veterinarian and antique aficionado, possesses the type of organic sensibility that Wright so prized. But perhaps the biggest factor that contributed to the couple’s vision for what should be built on the Lake Bellaire site is that they knew this property well. Jana’s grandparents purchased a small ranch-style cabin just down the road from it in the 1950s, and she grew up summering there—playing near the 200-acre Miley estate that housed a family-style camp compound. “As a little girl, my wife always wanted to stay at the resort because she heard the kids playing at the mess hall,” Ken says.

Years went by and eventually Jana’s brother bought the grandparents’ cottage. Ken and Jana wondered if it was time to find an Up North place of their own. Several summers ago, they spent a week in the old family cottage and rode their bikes up the hill to the Miley estate. It had been divided up and mostly sold off, but the large parcel at the top of the hill with its jaw-dropping view of Lake Bellaire was for sale. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We have to buy this,’” Ken recalls.

Once the property was theirs, Ken and Jana searched for an architect who would incorporate their ideas into a blueprint. They found one in Joseph Mosey, the principal in a boutique firm that has offices in Northville and Petoskey. Joe met them on site to get a firsthand feel for the topography. Later, Ken and Jana visited him in his Northville office, bringing with them a list of what they wanted in the home. “He did one hand-sketch and it was perfect—exactly what we were looking for,” Ken says.

View this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home in Easport, also designed by Joseph Mosey.

The finished home, built meticulously by Mapleridge Construction, is a 1,700-square-foot gem. The efficient design revolves around a massive, stacked-stone fireplace and a 14-foot-tall wall of glass that welcomes the staggering Lake Bellaire view into the home. The collaboration and teamwork between the couple and their construction team was exemplary, says Mapleridge’s co-owner Scott Naumes. The team at Mapleridge worked through the complicated roof system carefully, making sure rain would even run off of a section that was flat. Additionally, Mapleridge’s talented trim-workers listened carefully to the couple’s vision for a Wrightian-styled built-in bench system in the great room, then added their own calculations about how it should fit into the wall’s planked-cedar siding. The finished product is exactly what Ken and Jana had hoped for.

Indeed, Ken can’t say enough about Mapleridge’s thoughtful craftsmanship, pointing out as another example a series of drawers that blend seamlessly into the lap siding in the hallway when they are closed. “We told them we’d like more built-in storage and the finish crew came up with this idea,” he says. “I was really impressed.”

The walnut flooring and channel cedar planked walls (stained with a 50/50 blend of walnut and fruitwood then coated in lacquer) carry out an Arts & Crafts-era organic theme, which designer Angela Goodall of Kitchen Choreography continued in the kitchen. Among her touches are custom-designing a hood out of the same cedar planks used on the walls, adding floating walnut shelves and procuring hand-pressed subway tiles for the walls. The same artisan that made the subway tiles also created a mosaic of the nearby Grass River Natural Area from a sketch that Jana made—turning the range backsplash into an Arts & Crafts-style focal point.

The petite home doesn’t lack for anything. Well, except a television. Ken and Jana don’t have one here by design. “This home is for reading, listening to music and looking at the view,” Ken says.”

Elizabath Edwards is managing editor of Northern Home and Cottage. // Photos by Dave Speckman

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