Chic Retreat

A 1970s Up North cottage gets a beautiful makeover for an active family.
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The great room lives up to its name. – Photography by Beth Singer

Residential projects from the 1970s don’t often age well. The five-bedroom, 4.5-bath, 4,000-square-foot cottage that Alexis Elley, of Textures Interior Design in Grosse Pointe Farms, recently completed is no exception.

Built in 1979, the Harbor Springs property in the L’Arbre Croche development boasted a good layout, with outdoor access on each of the four levels and a walking path to Lake Michigan. But it also had unattractive flooring throughout, an outdated kitchen and bathrooms, painted cedar walls, and popcorn ceilings.  “Nothing had been touched since it was built,” Elley explains.

The homeowners, who live in Grosse Pointe Farms, “wanted something fresh and different,” the designer says, and were looking for a getaway that complemented the young family’s active lifestyle. “They wanted a space that caters to entertaining and family fun,” Elley says. “Having grown up spending my summers and winter ski weekends in Harbor Springs, I jumped at the opportunity.”

A cottage-style kitchen does the trick for entertaining. – Photography by Beth Singer

The fact that it was a second home also appealed to the designer. “Since this was a holiday home, I would be able to use designs that were a little out of the box,” she says.

A feathery bedroom vignette. – Photography by Beth Singer

The project was  “a total gut job,” although the layout remained largely the same except for the master suite, which originally had odd in-room sinks. “We had to reconfigure that, and move the sinks out of the room to make the bathroom private and functional. We also added a wall of custom built-ins in the great room for storage, as well as custom bunk beds in the bunk room.”  The team updated other bathrooms and the kitchen, as well.

The cozy dining room awaits friends and family. – Photography by Beth Singer

For the interiors, the homeowners wanted “a natural and serene environment with subtle color,” Elley explains. She describes the overall interior style she created as  “rustic glam, with some transitional and modern elements. I love to use neutrals, including white and brown, with pops of  black and little splashes of color.”

A perfect set-up for cocktail hour. – Photography by Beth Singer

Nicknamed “The Treehouse,” the property is surrounded by woods. That led Elley to incorporate subtle greens and blues, in addition to “lots of natural textures and tones,” throughout the residence.

The cottage’s layout remained largely the same except for the master suite, which originally had in-room sinks. It’s now a beautiful oasis. – Photographyby Beth Singer

The expansive great room is among Elley’s favorite spaces. “We created three areas to accommodate dining, a seating area facing the fireplace for conversation, and a large sectional and ottoman facing custom built-ins for movie nights,” she shares. The original stone fireplace, which serves as the room’s focal point, was updated with a new mantel made from reclaimed white oak and a black granite hearth. Elley topped it with a three-panel art piece featuring a stag —  “a different spin on the traditional taxidermy seen in so many northern Michigan homes,” she explains.

Another great room perspective. – Photography by Beth Singer

Other highlights, she says, include the bunkroom “with its hunter green beds and personal reading lights for sleepovers and late-night bedtime stories,” and the powder room, with its custom scalloped white oak countertop and grass cloth leopard print wallpaper,  “because every house needs a little animal print.”

The bunk room is a fun space for kids of all ages. – Photography by Beth Singer

The project was Elley’s first remote undertaking. The distance between the project and her Grosse Pointe base made for an interesting project.  “I like to pop in to see my projects every day,” she says. Although this project prohibited her from checking in daily, she went up to Harbor Springs at least once a month, she says, and she and the homeowner spent a working weekend up north as well as days at the Michigan Design Center downstate. Elley says she had a great working relationship with contractor Steve Jakeway.  “We were all on the same page,”  she says.   “He called me every day.”

A bathroom with an animal print-themed wall-covering suits the getaway well, while a custom designed wood vanity adds woodsy appeal.

Other than that,  “it was pretty seamless,” she says, adding that she starts work soon on the family’s main residence. This undertaking may have been her first remote project, but she hopes it won’t be her last. “I would absolutely do more projects up north,” she says.

The cozy lounge features kid-friendly cube seating. – Photography by Beth Singer

The homeowners, who moved in just in time to enjoy the 2021 summer season, agree that the project went smoothly.  “We couldn’t be happier with the end result,” they assert, adding that they consider The Treehouse their  “happy place.”

This guest bedroom blends bright and pale pinks with neutral tones. – Photography by Beth Singer

“We come up as often as possible,” the couple says. “Alexis brought our very basic vision to life, and then some.”


BUYER’S GUIDE



INTERIOR DESIGNER 

Alexis Elley, Textures Interior Design,
Grosse Pointe Farms, texturesinteriordesign.com

The master bathroom. – Photography by Beth Singer

BATHROOM, MASTER

Cabinetry – Preston Feather Building Center, Petoskey
Countertop – Envi, Quartz
Lighting – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Troy
Plumbing Fixtures – Kohler

This guest bedroom blends bright and pale pinks with neutral tones. – Photography by Beth Singer

BEDROOM, GUEST 

Artwork, Original – Andrea Nadeau
Bed Frame and Bedding – Serena & Lily
Blanket, Throw – UGG
Chair, Desk – HomeGoods
Dresser – Serena & Lily
Flooring – White Oak
Light, Ceiling – Visual Comfort
Light, Wall – Visual Comfort
Rug – overstock.com
Shelf, Floating – White Oak
Table, Bedside – Serena & Lily
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

BEDROOM, MASTER 

Bedding – Palecek, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chairs, Patio – Teak
Dresser – Serena & Lily
Flooring – White Oak
Lamp, Table – Tahari
Light, Ceiling – Kelly Wrestler, Visual Comfort
Mirror – CB2
Rug – Lulu and Georgia
Sconces – Visual Comfort
Shelves, Floating – White Oak
Table, End – Antique, Joie de Vie, Petoskey
Table, End (Patio) – Teak
Wallpaper – Thibaut
Window Treatment – Natural Woven Raffia

BUNK ROOM

Beds, Paint – Benjamin Moore, Hunter Green
Bedding – Pottery Barn and Pendleton

DINING ROOM

Artwork – Palecek
Chairs – Four Hands
Rugs – Cow Hides
Sconces – Aerin, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table – Four Hands

Various elements in an entertainer’s dream kitchen all capture the cottage spirit. – Photography by Beth Singer

GREAT ROOM 

Armchairs – Four Hands
Artwork – Trowbridge
Built-ins – Custom
Cabinetry, Mini-Bar – Preston Feathers
Chaise Lounge – Bernhardt
Chandelier – Ralph Lauren, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Countertop, Mini-Bar – Quartz (Envi)
Fireplace – Black Granite
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak
Glassware – Riedel
Mirror – Lexington
Ottoman – Article
Sconces – Ralph Lauren, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sectional – Vanguard Furniture, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sofa – Lee Jofa, Kravet | Lee Jofa | Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Stools, Cow Skin – Made Goods
Table, Coffee – Made Goods
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

Another kitchen view. – Photography by Beth Singer

KITCHEN 

Backsplash and Countertop – Quartz (Envi)
Cabinetry – Preston Feathers
Flooring – White Oak
Lighting, Island – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Ovens, Double – Thermador
Refrigerator – Sub-Zero
Shelves, Floating – White Oak
Sink, Farmhouse – Kohler
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

Photography by Beth Singer

LOUNGE 

Armchairs – Four Hands
Art, Native American – Lauren Kirchner Photography
Cabinets – Wood Harbor, Preston Feathers
Flooring – Wide Plank White Oak
Mug – Majollica
Ottoman, Cube – HomeGoods
Pillows, Accent – South African Spring Buck Pelts, Vanguard Furniture
Plates – Juliska
Rug – Four Hands
Shelves, Floating – White Oak
Sofa – Sleeper Sofa, Vanguard Furniture
Table, Coffee – Four Hands
Tables, Geometric – HomeGoods
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

POWDER ROOM 

Faucet – Brizo
Mirror – Carvers’ Guild
Sconces – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wallpaper – Lee Jofa, Kravet | Lee Jofa | Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy

STAIRCASE 

Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – White Oak
Stairs and Railing – Plexiglass and White Oak
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Simply White

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS 

Builder – Steve Jakeway, Steve Jakeway Builders, Petoskey
Cabinetry – Paula Keipert, Preston Feather Building Center, Petoskey



Text by Khristi Zimmeth & Photography by Beth Singer

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