Brighton Beauty

Prairie-inspired residence’s design makes the most of water views // Photography by Beth Singer
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The 5,000-square-foot Prairie-inspired home suits the wooded, lakeside lot well.

“Too good to pass by.” That was the opinion of the owner of this new build on Brighton Lake in Brighton when the breathtaking lot the house now sits on became available in 2018.

Architects John and Donna VanBrouck, of Birmingham’s VanBrouck & Associates, live nearby and, like many of his neighbors, John had had his eye on the property for a number of years. “It’s a beautiful lot with towering pine trees on a bit of a peninsula sticking out into the lake,” he explains. He goes on to describe Brighton Lake as “an idyllic Michigan inland lake,” adding that because it’s a conservancy lake with no power boats allowed, it’s also peaceful and eco-friendly, and features a number of picturesque and wooded lots.

The study, kitchen, foyer, and living room all sport a warm color palette with several natural elements.

VanBrouck worked with the homeowner and interior designer, Amanda Sinistaj of Ellwood Interiors, on the three-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot project. Sinistaj walked the property early in the process and was inspired by its beauty, agreeing that the lakefront lot was “definitely the best spot on the lake, with water on three sides.”

The homeowner, a water lover, relished the opportunity to build the lakefront home of his dreams, the designer explains. Besides taking full advantage of the views, he envisioned a distinctive residence with “clean lines, low maintenance, and a slightly less fussy (than his last house) but still detailed design,” she says.

VanBrouck calls the resulting award-winning design Contemporary Prairie, and says it pays homage to the original style made popular by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright. “True Prairie can be pretty dark,” he adds, explaining that the updated design drew on Prairie themes including strong horizontal lines, vertical stone elements, and the use of glass, metal, and wood. Nods to the architectural tradition can be found throughout the house, from its metal and wood components to the transom-topped windows in all of the rooms, and the emphasis that was placed on employing local craftspeople.

Like the Prairie style’s original practitioners, the Brighton Lake house also emphasizes an intrinsic connection to the landscape through organic shapes and textures, and a warm color palette. “Natural elements were very important throughout,” Sinistaj says. “The house sits very beautifully on the lot, and has a woodsy vibe.”

Walking into the home, visitors are treated to a watery panorama featuring a dramatic infinity pool, which is seen through the open-concept living room. The living room’s palette of gray, white, and sand tones gives the space a pleasing tranquility, says the designer, who reinforced the serene vibe with landscape-themed art throughout the house. Blue tones also ribbon their way through the home.

The living room is at the center of the floor plan, with the guest bedroom suite off to one side and the more private master suite on the other. “The bedroom is surrounded by windows, so the view really is everything,” contends the designer, who says it’s among her favorite areas in the house. The lake is also framed through a large window in the master bath’s tub area — a spot Sinistaj says would be the perfect perch for watching the sun set. “A glass of wine in that tub? Yes, please,” she says with a laugh.

Another of the homeowner’s priorities was the inclusion of an exterior patio with lake access and an adjacent “big, beautiful” office that doubles as a den. He wanted the office to open onto the large deck so he could enjoy the lake as much as possible, even when working from home. “He’s very active and is out on the lake all the time,” Sinistaj says, adding that regular kayaking and paddle-boarding allow him to take full advantage of his lakeside location.

A lower walk-out level includes a family room, guest suite, and games area —  not to mention more water views.

The project took two years, says VanBrouck, who adds the team ultimately did justice to the site, the Prairie tradition, and the homeowner’s vision. “The house is the perfect marriage between architecture and interior design, and that’s rare.”


BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGNERS
Amanda Sinistaj and Valerie Dehnke, Ellwood Interiors, Birmingham, ellwoodinteriors.com

BEDROOM, MASTER
Armchairs – Abingdon Chairs, Vanguard Furniture, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Artwork – Next Step Studio & Gallery, Ferndale
Bed Frame – Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham; Foam N’ More, Troy
Bedding – Legacy Home, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Bench – Mansfield Bench, Bernhardt, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabric, Weitzman, Emperor Fossil
Blanket, Throw – Williams-Sonoma
Chandelier – Cannele Chandelier, RH
Flooring – Masland, Lynx Den, 238, Professional Rug Works, Troy
Lighting, Bedside – Cannele Pendants, RH
Pillows, Accent – Lez Riziere Pillows, Ryan Studio; Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Table, Glass – Triumph Drink Table, Charleston Forge, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Tables, Bedside – Jones End Table, Durango Finish, Vanguard Furniture, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy

FOYER
Ceiling Treatment – Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham; DC Studios, Taylor
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak, Everlast Floors, Troy
Lighting, Ceiling – Apothecary 12 Chandelier, Hammerton Studio, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Rug – Transcend Rug, Jaipur Living, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Stools, Patterned – Foam N‘ More, Troy; Fabric, Jim Thompson, Makut – Ashes
Table – Triumph Table, Charleston Forge, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham

KITCHEN
Backsplash – Tundra Tile, Virginia Tile, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bar Stools – Stiletto Bar Stool, RJones, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Cabinets – Medallion, Vantage Construction Co., Brighton
Countertop, Bar – Meltdown Glass
Countertop, White – Bellem, Dwyer Marble and Stone Supply, Farmington Hills
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak, Everlast Floors, Troy
Lighting, Bar – Lightspan OVO Pendants, Hammerton Studio, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Stove – Wolf
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Skyline Steel

LIVING ROOM
Armchairs – JB Loungechairs, Van Pursem, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham; Fabric, Pindler, Legacy Taupe
Bench – Ardmore, Bernhardt, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Candleholders – West Elm
Fireplace – Leatherized Eramosa, Ciot, Troy
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak, Everlast Floors, Troy
Lighting, Ceiling – Carlyle Chandelier, Hammerton Studio, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Rug – Scott Group Studio, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Shelving, Built-In – Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham; DC Studios, Taylor
Sofa – JB Sofa, Van Peursem, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham; Fabric, Schumacher, Broadway Chanterelle
Table, Coffee –  RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Tables, End – Cooper End Table, Charleston Forge, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Skyline Steel

STUDY
Desk – Custom, Douglas Madaras, Ann Arbor
Entertainment Stand – Custom, Douglas Madaras, Ann Arbor
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak, Everlast Floors, Troy
Lighting, Ceiling – Aura Large Pendant in Dark Smoke, Hubbardton Forge
Rug – Revelle Loop with Silk, Scott Group Studio
Sofa – Hudson Sofa, American Leather, Ellwood Interiors Inc., Birmingham
Table, Coffee – Tully Cocktail Table, Vanguard Furniture, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Skyline Steel

Water, water everywhere, from the serene infinity pool to Brighton Lake.

EXTERIOR
Brick – Glen-Gery, Urban Gray
Exterior Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Caribou Woodscapes
Pavers – Select Stone, Natural Cleft Bluestone
Pool Floor – StoneScapes, Black Mini Pebble
Pool Wet Tile – Oceanscapes, Blackies Blend
Roof – Butcher & Butcher, Dark Bronze
Stone – Select Stone Silver Quartzite, Dry-Stacked
Windows – Marvin Windows, Bronze

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