A young designer offers a lesson in making the view center stage in a Glen Lake home.
Featured in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of Northern Home & Cottage. See more stunning Northern Michigan homes and read the magazine here.
From the road, the eight wooded acres on a ridge above Glen Lake that have been in Joseph (JP) Machuta’s family since the 1960s look innocuous enough, marked only by a tree-shrouded driveway. But following the curve of the drive lands you at the top of a bluff with a jaw-dropping panorama of the Glen Lakes below.
For years, the family kept a modest getaway on the land, slowly clearing the trees to open up the view. In his young adult years, JP worked summer jobs in the area and lived on the property, waking up every morning to one of the area’s most stellar views.
By the time JP’s family put the property up for sale, he and his husband, Adam Tooseley, were working in Chicago. The couple decided to purchase the property and build a summer home that they planned to eventually retire to. Although they say they aren’t creative (JP is in finance and Adam is an attorney), they sketched out an inspired concept for their new home over coffee in a Glen Arbor café based on a clean Scandinavian style—then began looking for a designer to refine it.
It was a short search. At the time, they were renting a room at a local hotel across the street from the Glen Arbor Artisans gallery. They loved the gallery, especially its peaked metal roof. When they asked the owner, Kristin Hurlin, who designed it, she was delighted to share that it was her son, Keenan May. JP and Adam contacted him in San Francisco, where he was living at the time, and May agreed to design their new home both remotely and while visiting family in Glen Arbor.
Having been born and raised in Glen Arbor, May brought a deep consideration for the landscape to the project. “We spent a lot of time onsite designing with the trees, topography and the existing view corridor in mind,” he says. “We knew the focus of the home was the view, but second to that was properly nestling the home into the landscape around specific trees. Too many new houses in the Glen Lake area are simply key-holed into ridgelines. By strategically and sensitively placing this home, the home isn’t as visible from Glen Lake.”
May’s understanding of the setting is apparent at first sight. The structure, which rises to a 28-foot roof pitch, mimics the verticality of the surrounding pines. The roof and sides are clad in standing-seam black steel—both for ease of maintenance and to blend in with the shadowy forest. The facade is clad in Kebony, a natural wood product made from a species called Pinus radiata that, as May explains, “has been treated with a bio-liquid to permanently harden the cellular structure of the wood—essentially turning a beautiful softwood into a robust hardwood.” Virtually maintenance-free, the Kebony will weather to a silvery gray over time.
The sight line from the entry door leads directly across the great room and through a glass wall on the other side to reveal the spectacular Glen Lake view—that view being, as May says, “the purpose of the house.” The glass wall, he explains, is basically a diagram of what’s required to maximize the amount of glass when you are building out of wood [as opposed to a stronger material such as steel]. May used the structural section of the wall to house the black steel fireplace. “The rest is essentially glass with wood structure between,” he says. “It maximizes the biggest view possible.”
Nothing mars the view from the glass wall, not even a deck. “The deck furniture and railing tend to ruin the site line and view,” May explains. The solution? To place the deck off the side of the home, where it has its own view of Glen Lake.
On the interior, pale white oak floors and white walls form a purposefully desaturated color palette so that nothing detracts from the view. The streamlined kitchen that lines the back wall features oiled-walnut custom cabinetry by Paul May. With its precise, panel-to-panel, book-matched grains, May’s woodwork is art in and of itself. Black Ann Sacks tile embossed with drips of gold and Cambria Blackpool countertops complete the surface elements.
Both JP and Adam love to bake, so among their tools are Wolf M-Series ovens that offer a proofing function, and a Kitchen Aid blender stored in an appliance garage with a pop-up counter.
Two guest bedrooms (“We purposely put them in the back, where there is no view, because we want people hanging out in the great room,” Adam says), a guest bathroom and the laundry room round out the first floor. The loft houses both of their work spaces, a cozy reading nook (with a stellar view) and a master suite with a view across the loft and through the glass wall to Glen Lake.
May purposely used cohesive materials throughout the home so that the small, simple spaces flow to give the home a light, airy feel. To that streamlined end, the showers are both curbless with hidden sloped drains, and all the fixtures are wall-mounted and centered perfectly against their tile backdrop. “Grout lines as an afterthought are one of my worst enemies, so making sure that the fixtures land exactly square is very important to me,” says May, who was able to oversee the installation of those and other details since he relocated with his family back to Glen Arbor as the construction was wrapping up.
Since the pandemic began, JP and Adam have been able to work remotely—enjoying what was to be their summer home until they retired, year-round. In the evening, they relax in their great room and witness the fiery sunsets that occur across their unobstructed Glen Lake view from October through March. Life tucked away over Glen Lake is, indeed, good.