A Contemporary Barn-Like Michigan Abode


Contemporary White Sitting Area with Glass Sliding Door

A Jehs + Laub chair and ottoman from Corporate Concepts, clad in a John Hutton Textiles fabric from David Sutherland, provide a spot for repose in the master bedroom. The side table from Knoll resides on a blue-and-white Holland & Sherry carpet. Draperies in a Calvin Fabrics linen are from Donghia.

Contemporary White Terrace with Striped Furniture

Just off the master bedroom, an outdoor seating area features furniture from David Sutherland covered in Perennials fabric. The cocktail table is from Janus et Cie; Richard Schultz chairs face the lake.

Contemporary White Staircase with Patterned Runner

A blue-and-white runner from Stark brings the colors of the lake inside and pairs with a metal railing designed by Wohlner and fabricated by Fab-N-Weld in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Above the staircase, Peter Roth’s artwork from Onessimo Fine Art in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, invigorates the area.

Contemporary White Bathroom with Tile Accent Wall

In the master bathroom, a pair of mirrors designed by Harty floats in front of Marvin windows that face Lake Michigan. Pendants from Holly Hunt shine light on sinks and faucets, both from Studio41. Porcelain flooring is from Ann Sacks; the shades were made with Romo fabric.

Contemporary White Bedroom with Narrow Window

In one of the guest rooms, a photograph by Amina Tirana hangs above a custom-upholstered bed frame, designed by Wohlner with a Katie Leede & Company fabric. A chrome wall lamp from Lightology provides illumination above a nightstand from Room & Board. A Janus et Cie chair rests on a rug from Holland & Sherry.

Contemporary White Exterior with Lake Access

Architect Stuart D. Shayman conceived this modern barn-like residence, which features a deep connection to the outdoors. Lush landscaping designed and installed by landscape architect Scott Byron surrounds the in-ground swimming pool and spa, both by Boilini Company. Window dormers on the second floor flood the great room and catwalk with natural light.

Contemporary White Hall Detail with Bar Cart

Underneath a colorful work by Darren Sylvester, which was purchased during Art Basel in Miami Beach, is a custom bronzed-bamboo bar cart from Paul Ferrante. Flooring here and throughout the home is from Apex Wood Floors. Custom millwork was designed by builder John Harty.

Contemporary Indoor-Outdoor Terrace with Glass Sliding Door

For the dining area, which is open to the kitchen and great room, Wohlner placed Fritz Hansen chairs from Design Within Reach around a large table with a zinc top from Georgia Brown in Aspen, Colorado. Sliding Doors by Grabill Windows & Doors, purchased through Building Blocks, connect the indoors to the outside.

Contemporary White Kitchen with Stainless Steel Backsplash

A custom chandelier from Lindsey Adelman Studio in New York offers a sculptural element to the kitchen, which is outfitted with cabinetry fabricated by Distinctive Cabinetry of Illinois wearing hardware from Studio41 and granite countertops from Tithof Tile & Marble. Emeco barstools from The Griffin Company coordinate with a stainless-steel backsplash from The Tile Shop.

Contemporary White Great Room with Dormer Windows

Being able to see through the house and out to the lake was an important feature for this home. In the great room, a custom sectional—covered in navy Mokum fabric from Holly Hunt—takes in the view. A pair of chairs designed by Wohlner in a Dedar textile adds color and joins a Caste daybed. The floor lamp was purchased through Lamps Plus; tile by Ann Sacks surrounds the fireplace.

Contemporary White Den with High Wingback Chair

An Elizabeth Eakins rug from John Rosselli & Associates adds a casual feel in the den of this Michigan home. The room is furnished with a custom sofa by designer Stephanie Wohlner, covered in Holly Hunt Great Plains fabric, and a Caste side table paired with a Vitra chair from Corporate Concepts. Vibrant artwork by Mel Bochner punctuates the space.

Contemporary White Living Room Detail with Mosaic Fireplace

The great room’s fireplace hearth is covered in a white ceramic tile. “It’s almost shell-like, but it also has a modern vernacular,” Wohlner says.

Contemporary White Front Elevation with Expansive Pavers

“Having the right team is crucial for a project like this,” says designer Stephanie Wohlner. “We all went back and forth about the design and worked closely together on the house.”

After a year of searching for a space to build a weekend retreat, a North Shore couple with three sons zeroed in on an empty lot hidden from the road by a forested conservation area in Lakeside, Michigan. With miles of sandy beaches, apple orchards and plenty of year-round recreational activities, the area proved to be the perfect location for the active family. “This property is unique because it’s so pretty and private,” says the wife. “We love the area and it’s an easy drive from the city.”

To design the project, the couple reassembled the same team responsible for their main house in Highland Park, plus landscape architect Scott Byron. “Having the right team is crucial for a project like this,” says designer Stephanie Wohlner. “We all went back and forth about the design and worked closely together on the house.” adds the wife: “our primary residence is a Georgian-style brick home, but we wanted something different and more modern for this vacation retreat.”

Before the project could commence, construction manager John Harty—who worked on the house with his brother and business partner, Rich Harty—had to prepare the site for
 a foundation. This required digging 18 feet below ground level to get to the virgin soil. “We had to dig the soil out of a hole, fill it with sand and then impact it before anything could be done,” John Harty says. “It was amazing what we did to make the site buildable again.” Likewise, to address the drainage issues that threatened to swamp the project, Byron designed a dry creek bed lined with large-format gravel so that it would feel like a river running through the property. In turn, an ipe-wood fence covered with climbing hydrangeas provides a sense of separation from the driveway while adding color and interest. “The idea is that as time goes on, it will be a living wall separating the garage and utilitarian areas from the courtyard and front door,” Byron says.

A winding path leads through the woods and out onto a clearing where the recently completed abode now stands on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. On the lakeside of the house, Byron kept it simple, incorporating native grasses and planters for annual color. A poolside patio makes way to a covered porch and to the great room, which has three sets of sliding glass doors that frame ever-changing lake vistas. “The area around the pool is integral to the design,” says architect Stuart D. Shayman, who created a barn-like structure with a modern sensibility using white clapboard siding and a metal roof. “When you open up the doors on both sides of the house, it feels like one big space.”

Inside, this same idea is repeated, with an open living, dining and kitchen space. On the second floor, a bridge overlooking the main living areas connects to the guest suites and a bunkroom that can sleep up to eight people comfortably. “The concept for this home was for it to be a place for the homeowners to gather with friends and family,” Shayman says. “There’s enough space for everybody, whether it’s just the family or a large group of people.”

The home’s beamed tongue-and-groove ceiling, which soars to 26 feet at its peak, required great thought. These types of details, Wohlner explains, make all the difference. “We talked about doing a drywall ceiling, but I felt like
it needed that layer of the beams on wood,” she says. The designer also suggested painting the ceiling gray rather than a crisp white, which was first considered. “It would have made the space feel too big and cold,” Wohlner says. “This color feels much warmer.” the rift-sawn oak floors from apex wood floors, which were pre-finished in a gray stain, were added for the same purpose. “The knotty texture and mix of grayish tones made the house feel less stark and a little more casual,” Wohlner says. “The colors seem to move and change like the water.”

When contemplating the palette, inspiration struck the designer while walking along the sea during a trip to Mexico. “I saw these rocks that were kind of blue-gray and chartreuse, and that’s where the design came from,” says Wohlner, who incorporated a casual cotton-weave rug and a comfortable navy sectional in the great room. Livening up the design are pops of color in the form of ceramic vases, pillows and a pair of matching upholstered chairs. Because Wohlner had worked with the owners in the past, she understood that creating the kind of look her clients hoped to achieve would mean incorporating
a few traditional fabrics and accessories alongside more contemporary pieces. In the master bedroom, for instance, she paired a chair and other modern furnishings with more traditional-patterned fabrics. “The design has a classic sensibility yet still feels very modern,” Wohlner says.

And although the designer purposely steered away from a traditional beach aesthetic, her design does make subtle nods to it. The great room’s fireplace hearth, for example, is covered in a white ceramic tile. “It’s almost shell-like, but it also has a modern vernacular,” Wohlner says. In addition, a striped rug in the den has a beachy feel within that same modern context, while baskets and stacks of books add to that summer house aesthetic.

Shortly after their lakefront retreat was finished, the owners decided to host family and friends there for thanksgiving. “People flew in from the east coast, and we all congregated there for several days,” says the wife. “The design process is kind of like having a garden: it’s interesting the way it all comes together and so exciting when it finally bears fruit.”