You know the story about the frog who turned into a handsome prince? Well, this Northern Michigan home is like that frog. 

Featured in the June/July issue of Northern Home & Cottage in Traverse Magazine. Subscribe.

The before photos of the Oostras’ house, are, ahem, homely. It was khaki-colored and more-or-less shapeless—except for an attempt at rafter tails under the eave that ended up looking more like toad warts. Ouch. The interior? Shag carpet, chopped up rooms and, the crowning touch: “When you walked in the front door, the first thing you saw was the furnace,” says Randy Oostra, who purchased the home with his wife, Barb, several years ago.

This is a tough description of a home that has made decades of people very happy. And the house is located in Crystal Downs, the private golf course just outside of Frankfort, where it is hard to be anything but happy. At the heart of Crystal Downs is its golf course designed by the renowned British course designer Alister MacKenzie in 1928, with challenging greens, hills rolling the glacial landscape and wide-open Lake Michigan views from the bluffs. Beach Road, a part of the private club, runs under that bluff and beside the lake. That’s where the Oostras’ house sits, nestled in a grove of trees that open onto the lakefront.

Photo by Jason Hulet

There were some admirable qualities about the home—it had a nice footprint and it was set back far enough from the water to allow room for a small addition. Working with a design-and-build team made up of architect Bob Yvon, Ray Franks of Heartwood Custom Builders and designer Angela Goodall of Kitchen Choreography, the Oostras decided not to tear it down; it was worthy of a remodel.

Given the home had basically no style, the couple’s options were wide open. Working with Yvon, the Oostras set about giving the exterior a Craftsman feel—a style that is comfortable with its neighboring mid-century homes. The transformation is, can we say, princely? The once boring roofline is now a pretty medley of eaves, the former khaki siding is covered in gray shake trimmed in white and the rafter tails are true to the Craftsman style.

Photo by Jason Hulet

While the additions to the footprint were simple—a pantry, screened-in porch and master suite—the interior’s metamorphosis is no less dramatic. “The main change was the way the spaces in the home were reused,” Randy says. Those changes included turning the dark basement into a window/light-filled walkout with two guest bedrooms. Each is outfitted with fun wallpaper and, in place of closets, Goodall designed what she calls hotel lockers—open-fronted recessed areas outfitted with a hanging bar and counters. The concept functions more efficiently in a guest room than a closed-in closet, Goodall explains.

Indeed, the home is marked with signature touches all through, including fabulously patterned wallpaper and tile. In the powder room bath, the Oostras asked if pebbles could be designed into the shower-floor tile—thinking that they’d give an interesting contrast to the tile. Kitchen Choreography’s tile layers accomplished it to a striking effect.

Photo by Jason Hulet

Photo by Jason Hulet

The home’s pièce de résistance is its great room that faces the lake. The small windows that once let in only squinty views are replaced with a wall of glass that rises to transoms and finally to a set of clerestory windows, bathing the entire room in light and watery views.

Working closely with Goodall, the Oostras chose a palette of soothing driftwood shades for a serene backdrop to the vibrant lake view. A small-but-efficient open kitchen at one end of the great room replaces the original dark, cramped kitchen that was blocked from lake views. Outfitted with creamy white cabinetry, marble-like Cambria Quartz countertops and the new pantry, the space can do anything a bigger kitchen can. “It’s not huge, it is just right,” says Barb. “Everyone gathers there.”

Photo by Jason Hulet

Goodall helped the couple select a series of six wrought-iron chandeliers that hang from the creamy V-groove-clad cathedral ceiling with its oak beams, adding intimacy to the soaring height. The Oostras sum up their home’s style as casual classic—worthy of its extraordinary setting, yet, as Randy says, “The kind of home where guests feel comfortable helping themselves to the refrigerator.”

It is a true happily-ever-after story for the Oostras and their home—one that came with a bonus: The friendship between the homeowners and their design-and-build team that began during construction has continued. “We had a lot of fun together,” Randy says. “We count them all as friends.”

Photo by Jason Hulet

Home Resources

Bob Yvon, Traverse City

Heartwood Custom Builders, Honor
Ray Franks, 231.882.4073

Interior Design, Cabinetry
Kitchen Choreography, Traverse City

Carpet Galleria, Traverse City

Max’s Appliance, Traverse City

Blasius/Cambria, Williamsburg,

Gorman’s Home Furnishings, Grand Rapids
Betsie Bay Furniture, Frankfort

Fireplace Stone
The Concrete Service, Traverse City
(Style: Mackinac Trail)

Photo(s) by Jason Hulet