A colorful cottage on Lake Michigan embraces modern living without letting go of its beloved past.
Brielle M. Ferreira
1 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
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.
2 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
Vibrant Family Room
Inside, however, the cottage has been reimagined—some of the changes were necessitated by building regulations, some were cosmetic, to appeal to the aesthetics of a style-savvy couple with two young daughters. The most noticeable difference is the introduction of bold color that defines each space in the home. "They wanted the house to be bright and cheerful all year long, and bringing in color was the best way to do that," says Small.
In no place is this more evident than in the family room, where almost every shade on the color spectrum is represented. "With three females in the house, my brother-in-law definitely didn't win all of the arguments when it came to design," says Small with a laugh. She was careful, though, to weave in some more masculine elements to make him feel more at home. The ceiling beams work double duty: They add rugged, textural contrast the husband loves and, because they were designed replicas, they also speak to the history of the place.
The custom curtains and pillows are in Heritage Floral fabric by Lilly Pulitzer. The sofa is from Crate & Barrel; the custom coffee table is by Bruno Olechowicz. The floor cushions are from Pottery Barn. The shades are by Smith + Noble.
3 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
The dining room, too, is a mix of old and new; the family purchased the carved wooden hutch years ago, but the dishes that now outfit it were handpicked by the designer. The husband made his influence felt here, as well, when he stumbled across a statement-making chandelier on the Internet. "It's all twigs, and it was handmade, but we had it custom painted white," says Small. "The table and chairs with the ornate embroidery on their backs made the room feel more serious, so hanging the chandelier above them let us have some fun."
The dining room is painted Benjamin Moore's Floral White; the chairs are covered in fabric by Thibaut, and the chandelier is by Deanna Wish.
4 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
Small chose Juliska dinnerware for the family's carved wooden hutch.
5 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
If you were to ask the littlest inhabitants of this lakeside getaway about where the fun really is, each of the girls would point to her own bedroom—for the oldest, a pale-blue-and-chartreuse confection with dreamy bedding and striped walls.
Bedding is by Serena & Lily; the lamp is from Stray Dog Designs.
6 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
For the youngest daugheter, Small created a bright turquoise-and-red space that manages to be more punchy than patriotic. "The girls love those rooms," she says. "My sister-in-law wanted to make sure the designs were age-appropriate but also timeless. After all, they're going to be 18 and out the door before we know it. We wanted to create spots that they could keep coming back to."
The headboard and window treatments are custom by the designer. The rug is from Dash & Albert, and the walls are painted Pool Party by Benjamin Moore.
7 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
The guest room's yellow wallpaper is by Phillip Jeffries Ltd.
8 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
The living room sports Lee Industries chairs.
9 of 9Photo: Lisa Romerein
And as for that routine kitchen remodel that started the construction in the first place? Well, it prompted more than just the big changes in the house. "It's exactly what they had hoped for: modern, clean, and full of light," says Small. "My sister-in-law has even been shopping for cookbooks. It's inspired her to learn how to cook!"