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A colorful cottage on Lake Michigan embraces modern living without letting go of its beloved past.

Woodlea Cottage
Photo: Lisa Romerein

Woodlea Cottage

None of the hundred-year-old cottages in this tiny vacation community on Lake Michigan in Ludington have an address; instead, they have names. When the owners of a quaint cottage called Woodlea discovered that the house would have to be knocked down, they were crushed—even more so because it had been the family retreat where the husband had played throughout his own childhood summers.

Determined to keep the spirit of the old Woodlea alive, they had a local architect draw up plans before sharing them with their sister-in-law, designer Dana Small. "They really did try to re-create the cottage as best they could," she says. They worked within the previous home's footprint to erect a two-story residence with a wide front porch that is almost an exact replica of what was there before, save for the placement of a couple of windows and its new dark blue exterior hue.

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Lacy curtains, fresh florals, and plenty of monogrammed pillows are just a few of the feminine touches that give this room its calming and sweet mood. Pieces scored at thrift stores and flea markets were refreshed with paint, then artfully applied to achieve the shabby-chic distressed look.