North was completed late spring. We spent our first week enjoying what it all became in early July.

As fall turned into winter: winter into spring…and spring into summer… it became apparent that this space was a “tree house” in disguise.  Removing the dark wood and replacing it with a warm “cottage white” (walls & trim), there no longer was harshness surrounding the windows.  Your eyes became free to move outdoors and feel the strength of the mammoth surroundings of the National Park that enveloped you.

…with new cabinetry hardware and creating an island that seats six…the kitchen began to take on a new life of its own.  It began to invite you “in” rather than feel you would prefer to keep “out”.

The “Man Cave” …as described by the prior owner became our Library…It now acts as a third bedroom housing a sleeper-sofa.  I opened up the wall of a walk-in closet directly across the hall allowing easy access into the bathroom without going through the west bedroom. A fireplace will be added during phase II.
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The Utility Room was a 14’x12′ area of wasted space.  The furnace and hot water heater were lined up against one wall, the washer and dryer against another, with a huge central area serving no purpose in the middle.  I made this “larger” space into three smaller spaces.  A Utility Room that now houses only the furnace and hot water heater with storage space…a designated washer and dryer area…and a mudroom that leads directly to the garage.  This small change of space along with the changes spoken above have a huge impact on how the “total” space of this 2000 SF home can live.

….so having said all of that…my work is done…my story told.  Time to embrace all that has “become”. 

The End.

Lake Michigan










 …Looking at what is…seeing what could be.

This is  a 2000+sf project and much of its’ space outside of the 30’X19′ Great room required repurposing to maximize the efficiency of the home. There were four areas that screamed “help”.
This is what I saw… could be.
The kitchen dining area screamed: WASTED SPACE.64_1831909_13_1494596561[1]

Using the cabinetry that sits in the center of the Kitchen and the piece that stands against the rear wall, I designed a 57″X57″ multipurpose kitchen island.  Six urban bar stools fit around this island.  A flat screen TV will hang on the wall behind. This room has been renamed “The Lab”.








The master bedroom walk-in closet screamed: CHAOS.

It has been repurposed into a hallway with closet space on both sides that leads into the bathroom: no longer requiring entry through a bedroom.










The storage room screamed: UTTER CONFUSION. 







It is transforming into 3  redefined spaces. …utility room/mudroom/enclosed laundry station.








The “Man Cave” as the owner  implied:
…screamed:  WHAT?
 This area is repurposing into a Library/bedroom with a pull-out couch that now has direct access to the bathroom and closet space.





These simple changes have a huge impact on how this home will live.   The Kitchen/Lab has now become a place for entertaining.   Now…as Kip invents new concoctions for our guests to test, this area lends itself to hanging out…chatting with the chef as he creates. The new hallway gives necessary direct access to the bathroom that now allows the Library to also serve as a 3rd bedroom.
Defining actual space in the storage room separating utilities from laundry and adding a mudroom to access from the garage solves a huge problem.


64_1831909_3_1494596558[1]In most cases the color of paint is the foundation of creating emotion in a space. It can make cold space warm…dark space light and undefined space “defined”.  Paint took North from a drab, dowdy, wood-paneled  and stained environment into a warm, crisp, clean-lit, space.  Using soft matt, cottage-white paint, I painted both trim and walls the same color in the Great Room, allowing the eyes to view freely  through the glass filled walls overlooking a western view of Sleeping Bear National Park, Pyramid Point and  Lake Michigan,11292017 Leelanau 017

This is my first experience of taking a “wood based” environment and painting everything…walls, ceilings trim, doors, beams cabinets, faceplates and registers.   Everything was going white: so why not just spray paint the place? “One good coat of Kilz and a couple coats of paint and off I go…no big deal.” I said to myself.
….enter Val

Her name is Valarie Lynn. She specializes in large exterior painting projects.  Large like the Red Roof Inn.  During the winter she moves inside to interior jobs.   We met in September and I hired her to help in my transformation of North.   I hired her as a solo interior house painter.  In the past month her title evolved into Artistic Director of Paint. It all started with the 9  “expresso” stained ceiling beams…first coat of kilz…second coat of kilz…fill imperfections…sand out imperfections. The light color of the primer exposed unfinished issues that were hidden by the dark stain.…nail holes that were not filled…shadowed spaces that required caulk fill.  Over and over she patiently dealt with each new imperfection as coat after coat of  Kilz/paint was applied.  As each additional coat went through its drying cycle, Val began to tackle the stained trim, doors, and cabinets.  Methodically she prepared for paint.  Kilz…fill…sand…kilz again…fill again…sand again…over and over.  We began to discuss how little time was spent “painting” on a job like this.  Preparation for the paint was 90% of this job.  I never knew.

The paneling proved no different of a challenge. Once the Kilz was applied, gaps appeared where finish nails and caulk were needed which of course had to be filled and sanded repeatedly. The white paint revealed every imperfection that the dark stained wood concealed.  It was Valarie’s mission to not miss anything.


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We are coming to closure with the paint. Valarie will begin to pack her bags of magical tools next week. I learned so much from her on so many levels. I feel deeply indebted.  The depth of her commitment to make North the best that it could be and her positive perseverance for doing things right has been imprinted in my soul forever. She is a true artist in her trade and a pillar of what we all strive to be…



Assembling the plan…
The past 4 weeks has been spent putting together the group that I will work with to fix North. Windows have been chosen, ordered, and scheduled for install.  Today, I completed dimensional drawings of each room/”space”. These drawings outline the core of this project.  They tell me what is….So, as I study what is…I can begin to envision what could be.  As I study each drawing, I place myself into its “space”.  All space must have purpose.  I ask…. Is this space purposed correctly? Does this space need physical alterations to fully utilize its purpose?  As my mind responds to these questions, cost is waving its red flag above my head.  What are this projects’ priorities?  What is the budget?
North will be completed in two phases.  Phase I is to get it “rental ready”.  Phase II will be to refine it into a residence.  Windows, doors, floors, and paint are the priorities in this phase. Wish-list includes reconfiguring the kitchen to include a 4’x4′ island…







creating a wall fireplace in the library…





re-purposing the laundry/utility room to include a walk in closet…




It has been a month that we have owned “North”.  I have been looking at what is….beginning to visualize what she could be.  A fun frustrating adventure begins.
What is:  “North” sits as a 2 unit condominium.  We own the right (North) side.  She has beautiful bones…North 081017 204 There is 2024sf of interior living space on two floors.  The upper level is where you live: great room, fireplace,
kitchen and bath.

The lower level has two master suites/ library and laundry/utility. There is a two car garage.




1000sf of decking surrounds the entire second level.  The backside overlooks Pyramid Point and Good Harbor Bay.

“North”North 081017 225 is my “Frank Lloyd Wright”. So many of  her”markings” reflect his philosophical belief : .A home is an extension of our earth… It should flow into “one”.

Beginning to visualize what can be…
Her needed exterior repairs go unnoticed without a close review.

The windows are original: painted wood, single pane.  They were installed in the 70’s.  The long extended overhang and impeccable maintenance has contributed to far exceeding the life expectancy of any window.


 Adventure #1:  The building is stucco over concrete block and the windows are inserted into the block.  This is not standard window installation. How do I replace 10 windows in the most prudent manner while keeping the visual integrity of the building in place?
…on it!

Looking at what is….
seeing what could be.
…this is what I do best.

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