Tucked into a small lot on Old Mission Peninsula, this home lives as large as the sweeping West Grand Traverse Bay views.

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Lots on Old Mission’s elegant peninsula Drive are few and far between. But these homeowners, lifelong Traverse City residents, happened to run into an old friend at a fundraiser who was considering selling one. The couple saw it as a chance to build the dream home they’d always wanted. They told their friend to please call them if he decided to sell. A couple weeks later he did. They didn’t hesitate.

Back view of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Located on a point, the lot’s sight line stretches south along the shore to downtown Traverse City, and north to Power Island. The beautiful Leelanau Peninsula shoreline is due west across the bay. The couple knew from the get-go that they would use the husband’s childhood friend, Dave Guernsey of Guernsey Builders Inc., to build their home-to-be. Guernsey, who works with his two sons, is known for his high-quality work and craftsmanship—taking on just one project at a time so that the building process is meticulous.

Front view of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Related Read: Rural Sensibilities: Dream Home Turned Conservation Project.

The couple had a pretty solid idea of what style home they wanted to build on their new lot. Researching architectural styles, the wife was especially enamored with homes from the Pacific Northwest—marked by contemporary/modern lines including deep roof overhangs to shelter outdoor living areas from rain, and by an abundance of wood both inside and out. A friend suggested that architect Michael Fitzhugh might be a good fit for their vision. A Northern Michigan native, Fitzhugh worked in San Francisco before moving back to his hometown, Traverse City, where one of his first projects was the renovation of the State Theatre. Since then, his wide-ranging portfolio includes site-sensitive designs with modern lines and Up North sensibilities.

From their first meeting, Fitzhugh says, he and the couple were on the same page. “They have wonderful taste and they’re well-traveled—as the saying goes, great clients make great projects,” he says. Moreover, he under- stood that the elements the couple loved about the Pacific Northwest style translated harmoniously in Northern Michigan with its similar climate and vegetation. The only real issue was siting the home on the lot—the same point that made the view so dramatic also limited the space on the roadside to fit the two garages and gracious entrance the couple wanted. “We just barely had enough room to elegantly fit all that in there,” Fitzhugh says. The mission, however, was accomplished. With its deep overhang sheltering the entrance and its exterior walls clad in both cedar and Fond du Lac stone laid in a tailored geometric pattern, the home has a venerable, mid- century feel.

Kitchen of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Sitting area of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

The stately facade belies the dramatic and thoroughly modern window that spans 36 feet, floor-to-ceiling, across the lakeside great room. To accentuate the effect, Fitzhugh elevated the room so that it sits several steps up from the foyer. With a mahogany ceiling (the original plan was for cedar, Fitzhugh says, but at the time of construction mahogany was, surprisingly, less expensive), walnut floor and neutral walls (including more Fond du Lac stone in the entry) the room artfully stages the watery tableau beyond the glass.

Interior designer Kristen Myers of KM Designs stepped in to help with the kitchen and baths.

“This was my second time working with [this couple] on a project so I knew they had great taste and a love for pattern and texture,” she says. “I immediately loved the vision they shared with me of a contemporary, warm and welcoming home incorporating lots of stained wood (not a white cabinet or piece of shiplap to be found!). In the open kitchen, Myers paired charcoal-stained cherry cabinets with light quartzite countertops and backsplash. A glass mosaic tile backsplash behind the coffee bar adds a dash of elegance—as does marble tile with its etched-bronze peony floral pattern in the powder bathroom. Also in the powder bath, “the pendant light made of steel wrapping around a piece of cast glass is also a stunner,” says Myers. “It’s hung on very thin cable wires that gives it the appearance of floating.”

Front door of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Bathroom of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Dale Campbell of Urban Diversions lent his eye for design to the furnishings, fittingly choosing Milo Baughman (a leading mid- century modern furniture designer) chairs by Thayer Coggin. Among the pieces are Milo Chairs and matching ottomans covered in plushy lambs’ wool, a deep-blue velvet sofa and a conversation grouping of four tangerine-colored swivel gliders.

The designer team on this project is talented indeed—a statement that includes the homeowners themselves. From the artful placing of paintings and furnishings gathered from their travels in Europe and Asia, to the couple’s initial vision of a timeless, Northern clime house, this home bears the homeowners’ own very thoughtful stamp.

Library of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

North By Northwest Home Building Resources

Architect | Michael Fitzhugh Architect
Builder | Guernsey Builders, Inc., 231.883.3553
Cabinetry & Interior Design | KM Design
Furnishings | Urban Diversions
Mirrors & Showers | TC Mirror and Shower Door
HVAC | D&W Mechanical
Electrical | Abbott Electric, 231.632.1616
Appliances | Max’s Service
Plumbing Fixtures | Ferguson
Landscaping & Hardscapes | Down to Earth
Closets | First Class Closets
Roofing | Mills Construction, 231.929.2366
Excavation | Earthworks Excavation, 231.941.8692
Countertops | Stratus Marble & Granite
Tile | Artistic Tile
Lighting | Hubbardton Forge
Sound System | A Better Sound
Windows | Pella, Trend Window and Design
Flooring | The Concrete Artisans
Stone | Capital Stoneworks
Garage Doors | Northern Garage Doors
Custom Stairs | Jacklin Steel
Wallpaper Installer | Steen Decorating
Masonry | Great Lakes Stone Masonry 231.885.3038

Stairs of a home on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jacqueline Southby

Photo(s) by Jacqueline Southby