A tricky hilltop parcel and fond memories of childhood sunsets provide inspiration for an elegant Old Mission home in Grand Traverse County by architect John Kerridge and builder Paul Maurer General Contracting.

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Some of Dawn Fuller’s fondest memories from her childhood are of the Sunday drives she took with her family out on Old Mission to watch the sunset over West Grand Traverse Bay. She dreamed way back then of someday having a home on the peninsula.

That day finally came when Dawn and her husband, Cameron, decided to move with their three children from their house in the country north of Traverse City to Old Mission. Scouting homes for sale there, the couple toured one designed by architect John Kerridge. Dawn fell in love with it, but Cameron worried that the neighbors were too close. The couple continued their real estate search, but this time looking for property with an eye to hiring Kerridge to design them a home similar to the one Dawn had loved.

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

When Coldwell Banker Realtor Kim Costanza showed the Fullers an undeveloped parcel on a hill overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay and Power Island—a view that would be accompanied by splendorous, near-nightly sunsets—they knew they’d found the place they wanted to call home. The first time the Fullers showed Kerridge their property he was as wowed as they were. But there was, he quickly realized, one issue: the top of the hill, where the Fullers naturally wanted their home, came to a virtual point. “There was about a 10-foot flat space where we could site the home,” says Kerridge.

Undaunted, Kerridge studied the topographic map carefully and determined that shaving 30 feet off of the hilltop would solve the problem. “Probably the biggest challenge with this building project was making sure we set that house properly to preserve the view,” Kerridge says. And all that extra soil from excavating the hill? They could use it to build a long serpentine driveway to access the otherwise difficult-to-get-to site.
Kerridge went on to design a highly customized home for the

Fullers based loosely on the original home of his design that they had toured. A pattern of hipped roofs—which give the two-story home a feeling of hugging the site—are topped by a crow’s nest lookout on the third level. The home’s marine-blue siding coupled with the crow’s nest work to give the house a subtle nautical feel—a relaxed Up North style that belies its complicated structure. “The lookout was a technical challenge—there’s a lot of steel in that house,” Kerridge says.

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

To execute what promised to be a complex building project, finding an experienced contractor was key. Kerridge recommended Paul Maurer General Contracting, one of the region’s most respected building firms. After meeting Ben Maurer, Paul’s son, who had recently purchased the company from his father, the Fullers hired the firm. Maurer might have appeared new at the helm, but in truth, he’d been working for his father since a young age—riding his bike to job sites before he could drive. By 2014, he was managing individual projects and within two years had taken over general management of all projects. “I still remember Ben’s first words to us,” Dawn recalls. “‘We would love to build your legacy dream home for you.’”

Undaunted, Kerridge studied the topographic map carefully and determined that shaving 30 feet off of the hilltop would solve the problem. “Probably the biggest challenge with this building project was making sure we set that house properly to preserve the view,” Kerridge says. And all that extra soil from excavating the hill? They could use it to build a long serpentine driveway to access the otherwise difficult-to-get-to site.

Kerridge went on to design a highly customized home for the Fullers based loosely on the original home of his design that they had toured. A pattern of hipped roofs—which give the two-story home a feeling of hugging the site—are topped by a crow’s nest lookout on the third level. The home’s marine-blue siding coupled with the crow’s nest work to give the house a subtle nautical feel—a relaxed Up North style that belies its complicated structure. “The lookout was a technical challenge—there’s a lot of steel in that house,” Kerridge says.

 

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

To execute what promised to be a complex building project, finding an experienced contractor was key. Kerridge recommended Paul Maurer General Contracting, one of the region’s most respected building firms. After meeting Ben Maurer, Paul’s son, who had recently purchased the company from his father, the Fullers hired the firm. Maurer might have appeared new at the helm, but in truth, he’d been working for his father since a young age—riding his bike to job sites before he could drive. By 2014, he was managing individual projects and within two years had taken over general management of all projects. “I still remember Ben’s first words to us,” Dawn recalls. “‘We would love to build your legacy dream home for you.’”

Maurer and his crew were ready for the challenges inherent in the construction of the Fuller house. As it turned out, they were also up to the challenges that Covid-19 presented. “Covid enveloping the world in the middle of construction was probably the biggest curveball with this project,” Maurer says. “But luckily, we have an adaptable staff. We really enjoy challenges—forcing us to be better, smarter and more efficient every day.”

Beyond Kerridge and Maurer, the third team player in the production was Dawn Fuller herself. Dawn’s mother was a gifted interior designer, and Dawn decided early on in the project she wanted to be involved in the interior design. She worked with Kerridge and Maurer on the minutiae of each design. A camaraderie developed be- tween the three, with Kerridge and Maurer acting as sounding boards for Dawn’s ideas, as well as helping her source materials and products. “I always say to have a great project you need great clients,” says Kerridge.

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

The resulting home is splendid indeed. Dawn’s style, which has elements of relaxed glamour, is evident with the 19-foot-high marble-faced fireplace in the great room, the custom trim work, ionic columns, crystal light fixtures and a generous use of white. Bonuses in the home include a music room, a theater room and a luxurious Napa-style pool and hot tub. The home’s pièce de résistance is a moon-shaped terrace off the great room from where the Fullers take in the summer sunsets.

Now completed and filled with the buoyant Fuller family, the home exudes a joyous spirit—one for which Dawn is quick to give the credit due to Kerridge and Maurer, with whom the family has forged special bonds. “Our building process was a true pleasure,” she says. “We are grateful for the ‘new family’ we inherited from this project!”

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Old Mission Home Building Resources

Architect | John Kerridge, 231.620.4200
Builder | Paul Maurer General Contracting
Landscaping | Traverse Outdoor
Built-ins / Custom Woodwork | Paul Maurer General Contracting Wood Shop
Countertops | Stratus Marble & Granite
Doors & Windows | Pella Windows & Doors of Western Michigan
All Floor Covering | Bay View Flooring
Plumbing & HVAC | D&W Mechanical
Electrical | Art Brezin Electric, 231.946.8883
Drywall | Surfaces Inc., 231.929.9292
Insulation | Advanced Insulation Systems 
Appliances | Max’s Service
Hot Tub | Phillips Lifestyles
Sound System | Waara Technologies

Photo by Maurer General Contracting

Photo(s) by Maurer General Contracting