When new owners purchased a once-upon-a-time farmhouse on East Grand Traverse Bay, walls came down and light poured in. Learn about the inspiration behind this beautiful Northern Michigan home on Old Mission Peninsula, and purchase your tickets to take a look inside eight of the North’s most stunning homes, including this one, on the Northern Home & Cottage 2021 Virtual Home Tours.

Lovely Birchwood Drive runs along East Grand Traverse Bay on Old Mission Peninsula. Most of the properties have homes on the shore side as well as across the street. So, when Mike and Kelly Howes came across a home for sale located across from the water that included shoreline, it was a done deal.

The setting was perfect. But the home’s interior needed serious updating. The home, built in the 1920s, was originally a farmhouse. Over the decades, the farm disappeared and the home was remodeled until it became a chopped-up warren of rooms whose views of the bay were largely blocked by, among other issues, some seriously strange angled walls. The Howes hired Michele Cerny of Lakeview Interior Design and contractor John Erickson to head up a top-to-bottom reno.

One key decision from the outset was to work with Debbie Everson, salesperson of Floor Covering Brokers, to suggest lake-house appropriate flooring. In the main living area, the team chose COREtec luxury vinyl planking in an oak-toned color. “We selected this product for its color, durability, ease of cleaning and its relaxed beach look,” Everson says. The family room is carpeted in Beach Haven Tuftex nylon that is easily cleaned and has great retention. Everson also suggested a wool (stands up to foot traffic!) runner for the steps in water-and-sand-colored stripes.

The perfect flooring proved a firm base on which to build out the rest of the renovation design. The kitchen was just short of a miraculous transformation. Among the changes were a new 10-foot-long island with a silvery blue base and quartz top, white cabinetry and glossy white subway tiles from Floor Covering Brokers. As is the case with the cabinetry and island, Peter Jenks of Inception Woodworks made a fabulous oak-topped banquette that seats 14 for the casual eating nook. A window cut out of the wall separating the nook from the dining room allows light to pour in and provides a view of East Bay. In the dining area, a closet was removed, among other things, to make room for a 72-inch round dining table surrounded by white shiplap and centered under a gorgeous chandelier.

In an equally clever move, Cerny and the homeowner turned a former office space tucked oddly in the center of the main floor into a beach drop-off area. A wall or two had to be taken down and the bottom landing of the stairway was adjusted, but when it was finished, the space, shiplapped from top to bottom and outfitted with hooks, cabinets and a bench, makes the perfect place to stash beach towels and toys.

For an upstairs room, Cerny designed a custom loft bunk (built by Inception Woodworks) with steps that double as storage. New furnishings, lighting and wallpaper throughout the home are courtesy of the 200-plus home-furnishing companies that Cerny works with.

This old home saw many changes, but the Howes decided to keep the original fireplaces—stone in the living room and fieldstone in the family room. In addition, Cerny peeled back carpet in an original upstairs room that is tucked under the eaves, farmhouse style, and discovered the original fir floor. She had it painted pale blue but otherwise left it as a tribute to the home’s heritage. Some things are just too good to lose.

Building Resources for Hello Beautiful on East Bay

Flooring | Floor Covering Brokers
Interior Design | Lakeview Interior Design, 231.633.0313
Contractor | Vintage Homes, John Erickson
Cabinetry and Custom Built-Ins | Inception Woodworks

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Photo(s) by Greg MacMaster, Eagle Eye Video Productions