As the clock ticked on a renovation of their own home, friends and family rallied to help architect Dave Whiteford and his wife, interior designer Meg Whiteford, finish the project. Let’s just say, it took a village to complete this Old Mission Peninsula home in Traverse City.

This article first appeared in Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. Find this article and more when you explore our digital issue library. Want Traverse Magazine delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

In mid-October of 2020, when the northern Michigan real estate market was heating up, Dave Whiteford suggested to his wife, Meg, that they put their gorgeous, completely customized lakefront home on Old Mission Peninsula on the market just to see what would happen…

Surprise! It sold in just two days. Great news, yes, but the deal included the fact that they had to be out of their home in a month—and, while they spend their winters in Arizona, the couple would need a permanent Traverse City residence by spring. Although Dave remains lead architect and consultant to the build- and-design company, Whiteford Associates (founded in 1978 as Dave Whiteford Design), he had recently sold the firm and consequently had no spec home or the possibility of one that he and Meg could move into. “In the past, Dave has always had something lined up,” Meg says. “But this time he had nothing.”

Outside of Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Front door of Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Office at Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Related Read: Searching for more home renovation inspiration? Visit our Northern Michigan Homes page.

Needless to say, the couple started searching homes for sale in the area in earnest. When Dave drove by a small, For Sale by Owner home on a lakefront property several miles away from the home they’d just sold, he took note. The price was right, but the homely, ranch/ lower-level walkout built in 1978 was 200 square feet smaller than their home. And because the prospective house was nonconforming, there was no opportunity for adding on. With the clock ticking, the Whitefords did purchase it, but with the knowledge that they’d have to make the original footprint work for their lifestyle—and quickly.

Dave and Meg, literally, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. But they weren’t alone. A small army of relatives and friends joined them. “Many of the Whiteford family members are in the trades in one form or another, so their skillsets doubled the blessings,” Meg says, adding that their help was especially gratifying given that so many of them were already working long hours to make up for time lost in the pandemic shutdown.

Bedroom at Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Job #1: Gut the home down to its studs. Gone went the popcorn ceilings, the white ceramic 12-by-12 foyer tiles, the wall between the kitchen and dining/living room, the vinyl tile in the kitchen and bathrooms, the nasty carpet in the sunroom and the outdated paneling and half-wall in the man-cave that blocked a view of the lake from that room. Basically, everything that held the home captive to the 1970s.

Next, they raised the ceilings, added skylights and switched out the smallish windows for expansive new Kolbe windows that opened up the gorgeous East Grand Traverse Bay view on the home’s lake side. Dave went on to rejigger space to create a truly customized home—stealing 3.5 feet from the garage enlarged the laundry room; moving the stairway almost 4 feet by replacing a useless front hallway added some 40 square feet to the great room. That, in turn, allowed space to move the master bedroom to the lake side of the home and create a luxurious master bath where that bedroom had once been. Barn doors, for the hall linen closet and Meg’s walk-in closet, were also important space savers.

Living room at Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Kitchen at Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Kitchen and dining Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

The reno was far from complete when the Whitefords headed to Arizona that winter, leaving Dave’s nephew, Bill Whiteford of A1pha Construction and Management, in charge. When they returned in the spring, it was to a completed home and a reveal that felt like it was right out of HGTV. The interior decisions that Meg had made were executed perfectly—the white oak floors, the soft, sophisticated wallpaper choices, the lovely, efficient kitchen with its porcelain counters and pewter-stained oak cabinetry. And, as in every house that the couple has lived in together, the dining room table, designed by renowned midcentury architect Alden Dow, who was a mentor to David, graced the center of the great room. “We could not have done what we did without the tireless and selfless hours put in not only by our family members— sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews—but also by countless dear friends,” Meg says. “It truly was humbling and greatly appreciated how they all rallied around us, especially at a time when everyone is overworked and behind.”
Dog in house Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Northern Michigan Home Renovation Resources

Architect | Dave Whiteford Whiteford Associates
Interior Design | Meg Whiteford
Contractor | Bill Whiteford, A1pha Construction & Management, a1pha.bill.whiteford@gmail.com
Electric | TNT Lighting & Electrical Services, eric@tnttc.net
Plumbing | Ultimate Plumbing, 231.631.5172
Fixtures & Appliances | Ferguson
Rugs | Rectangles
Flooring & Tile | Floor Covering Brokers
Kitchen Cabinetry | Van Polen Custom Cabinets
Countertops | Stratus Marble & Granite
Windows & Entry Doors |  WeatherShield, Old Mission Windows
Landscaping & Irrigation | Down to Earth
Exterior Painting | Fresh Coast Painting

Bathroom at Old Mission Peninsula home renovation.

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Photo(s) by Jacqueline Southby