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Tour a Lake Michigan Log Cabin That’s Summer-Ready | Architectural Digest


When a waterfront Lake Michigan log cabin in Northport Point, Michigan, came up for sale, one Bay Area family was quick to snap it up. After all, such real estate gems are rare finds, and the wife, who had summered in Michigan as a child, wanted to give her kids that same carefree experience. Enter California-based designer Jay Jeffers, whom the couple hired to transform their new vacation home.

The duo had seen his work at a friend’s own house and knew he could transform a dated cottage like the one they had just purchased. “It’s one of my favorite kinds of projects,” Jeffers says. “I’d never done a log cabin like this before. When you walk in, you feel the energy and love of the people who’d been there before; it’s kind of a fantasy.” The house was built around 1910 for Hollis Baker, the son of the founder of Baker Furniture. But despite that auspicious beginning, subsequent owners covered up some of the charming log interior with painted paneling, turning one bedroom bright pink, another mint green.

There was also a lot of chintz. But while the family’s primary residence is very modern, Jeffers let them know that minimal wouldn’t work in this vintage abode. “They struggled with that a little bit,” Jeffers relays. “They were so worried about clutter. I told them it’s not going to be cluttered, but it’s not going to be minimal either.”

The careful work of architect Jessica Van Houzen Stroud was crucial in this pursuit, as she worked to modernize the house’s electrical, plumbing, and structural systems without compromising its authentic style. Her team also added a second story over the garage for a bunk room and built a beach shack near the lake. “The family comes here for the summer, and they really wanted to enjoy it and not worry about anything,” Jeffers says. “It’s a very family-oriented enclave, so you might be sitting outside, and suddenly, three families pull up in golf carts and it’s a party.”

All of the beach shack furniture is lightweight enough to move out to create a dance floor, and, like most of the furnishings, it’s durable enough to stand up to adults with margaritas or kids with peanut-butter-covered fingers. As the wife told Jeffers, “If I want to get on the coffee table to dance, I don’t want to worry that it’s going to break.” Jeffers reports that he worked hard to find great, sturdy furniture, including some vintage Baker pieces. In the dining room, he gave a previous owner’s hutch a coat of wax and put it back, complete with some of the house’s original china.

Given the family’s focus on entertaining, Jeffers added a fabulous bar for coffee in the morning and for drinks, well, anytime after that. “I love a bar moment, so I thought that could be our one glam feature. We did an antiqued mirror tile on the wall which is not really appropriate, but it’s fun.” He adds with a laugh, “In 20 or 30 years, this may be our mint green bedroom moment. Somebody will ask, ‘Who put antiqued mirrored tile in this room?’”

The original pink tone of paint, seen on the cabin’s exterior doors, is another head-turning feature. Though they went back and forth and tried about 20 colors for the exterior, the wife was adamant that the pink doors remain unchanged. That way, when someone asks the homeowners which house is theirs, they can answer, “the one with the pink door,” and the location of the party will be clear.


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