What to do with a vacant lot in Harbor Springs’ waterfront? The Cottage Company answers the question with a modern interpretation of cottage that velds beautifully with its gracious old neighborhood.

Featured in the April/May 2020 issue Northern Home & Cottage. Read the issue here.

The white clapboard cottage, with its exposed rafter tails and wide porches that beg for lazy days, nestles perfectly into its neighborhood of early 19th-century Victorian cottages on Bay Street in downtown Harbor Springs. Only the handsome black-framed windows and doors are a hint that something fresh and new is going on here. A renovation perhaps?

That’s precisely the reaction that the home’s builder and developer, Rob Mossburg of the Harbor Springs-based Cottage Company, welcomes when people see his 275 E. Bay St. project. For years, Rob and his wife, Vee, searched for the perfect to way to develop a large, very desirable parcel in downtown Harbor Springs that runs from Main Street to Bay Street and fronts on Little Traverse Bay. Throughout their 20-plus year history of building and providing interior design services, the couple has been big proponents of New Urbanism—a term that basically means building and renovating within existing cities and neighborhoods to decrease sprawl and to promote old-fashioned, close-knit communities.

“Our goal was to create a project that appeared to have organically developed over time,” Rob explains. This cottage is phase one of a plan that includes a neighboring cottage on Bay Street and a mixed-use commercial property on Main Street with residential condominiums above—all currently under construction.

To make the cottage a reality, the Mossburgs assembled one of the most renowned design-and-build teams in Northern Michigan: architect Nick White, kitchen and bath designer Liz Firebaugh of Signature Kitchens and their own Cottage Company for the construction and interior design. Rob and Vee’s daughter, Kelly Konoske, took the lead on the interior, imbuing the home with her innovative, young coastal style that still manages to stay true to Harbor Springs’ vintage vernacular.

A deep front porch, six-inch-planked white oak floors, shiplap walls and handsome black industrial windows set the stage for a home that makes the view of Little Traverse Bay across the road center stage. Kelly’s touches shine in her own line of soothing, neutral-toned furniture, most upholstered in performance fabric (perfect for a vacation home’s relaxing living), a couple funky, fun mid-century modern floor lamps and two-toned chrome-and-black hardware fixtures. “Personally, I feel that lighting and plumbing are two areas where design has been lacking and where the boundaries can be pushed,” Kelly says.

Liz Firebaugh created a timeless kitchen that seamlessly mixes cottage elements (white shiplap walls and ceiling) with a Euro-classic, La Cornue Fe range, a sophisticated marble-like quartz waterfall countertop and transitional frameless white cabinetry. Black industrial windows anchor one side of the space, and opposite, flanking the island, is a stunning glass-doored hutch framed in black. “Black doors are big for 2020,” Liz says.

The second-story master bedroom is a masterpiece of soothing natural shades and textures. “You just breathe easier when in this room,” Kelly says. The thoughtful design includes a small sitting area between the walk-in closet and the bedroom. “I imagine the homeowner enjoying a glass of wine while getting ready to go out for the evening,” Kelly says.

In the adjoining master bath, also design by Signature Kitchens, the glassed-in shower and free-standing tub are separated from the vanity area by an industrial metal-and-glass room divider that Liz calls another 2020 design favorite.

A roof-top terrace with an outdoor kitchen, fireplace and wide-open view of Little Traverse Bay is the climax to this home that harmonizes so beautifully with Harbor Springs’ past and present.

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Photo(s) by Beth Singer