On a remote lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a 1924 log cabin set on over 200 acres dotted with additional buildings, such as a caretaker’s cottage, carpenter’s workshop, boathouse and garage, boasts century-old charm. The owner—a busy, young entrepreneur from a large family—wanted a vacation home to bring everyone together. There’s no air conditioning, and Wi-Fi is pleasantly spotty; they like it that way.
“This place is really about disconnecting from it all,” explains designer Jennifer Durand. Alongside firm principal Jessica Lagrange and designer Molly Woodin, Durand worked to preserve original details, like the generous fieldstone-and-brick fireplace and terra-cotta tiles on a bathroom floor, while appointing the cozy dwelling with vintage and antique finds mixed with classic custom pieces. The designers have known this family for many years. Older relatives of the owner were some of Lagrange’s first clients, Durand says, “so we’ve worked with pretty much all of them at some point, but this was kind of the next generation.”
Having vacationed in the area for decades, the family is deeply connected to this part of Michigan, and that familiarity inspired the feel of the interiors. While the owner’s design proclivities normally lean clean and contemporary, “he really sought to embrace the history of the home and the local environment. Nothing looks too new,” Durand explains. “The family wanted things that have patina and a back story.” In addition to scouring local antique stores for special finds to integrate into the decor, such as blankets, artwork and vintage picnic baskets, the design team also sought out pieces online. From there they scored hand-forged iron sconces for the kitchen and the antique Windsor chairs that now occupy the lake-facing dining room. The dining table is an original piece built for the space by a previous owner, one so weighty it’s not going anywhere soon.
Images of Ralph Lauren’s Colorado ranch abode provided by the owner served as an early inspiration for the interiors: rich, dark woods; leather club chairs draped in colorful wool blankets; a stone fireplace; and lighting that glows. Fittingly, a Ralph Lauren Home blanket in warm tones of cinnabar and taupe became the inspiration for the downstairs color palette. Durand upholstered a large ottoman with the fabric and set it before the living room’s fireplace, rounding out the cozy furnishings with a commissioned antler chandelier, a twigs-and-birch-veneer cabinet and a leather chesterfield. To prevent the room from feeling too heavy, the designer swapped out the sofa’s leather seat cushions for a lighter linen.
Elsewhere on the main floor, a range with a vermilion door pops against the sage-gray kitchen cabinetry; red-and-white tile flooring enlivens the screened-in porch; and rugs, accessories, and window and door trim continue the warm palette. Upstairs though, in the bedrooms, “we flipped the script with neutral colors and botanicals on the walls,” Durand says. Soft prints, like the sage, sunflower-esque wallpaper in the primary bedroom, balance the visual activity downstairs. It’s a place that you could escape to and read during the summer, perhaps lounging on the comfy daybed or deep-seated armchairs next to the windows. “You get such a great breeze up there,” she notes.
While most of the updates were to the design of the interiors, the house needed a more functional kitchen suitable for the likes of contemporary people who love to cook and entertain. Architect David Huggins, who works for Lagrange’s firm, led the reconfiguration of the room. In collaboration with builder Jeffrey Visner of Design/Build by Visner, he combined several smaller, segmented spaces into one open area. “We paid careful attention to ensure it felt as though it had always been a part of the abode, starting with the addition of salvaged wood beams to match the other first-floor spaces, as well as a beadboard ceiling and walls,” Durand explains.
The project was very much a collaborative effort, with several of the owner’s family members deeply involved in creating this departure from fast-paced work life and contemporary, glass-and-steel aesthetics. Which was entirely the point. Together with family, “this is an escape from all of that,” Durand says.