Lakeside Legacy

New Shingle-style home in northern Michigan is a perfect gathering place for this family, now and into the future | Photography By James Haefner
The home’s design makes the most of beachfront vistas.

Even the best-laid plans can change. The owners of this breathtaking new build on an inland lake in northern Michigan had just finalized plans to renovate their existing cottage when “an amazing and virtually untouched wooded and large property on the same lake came up for sale,” explains Birmingham-based architect Brian Neeper. Neeper, who worked with builder Jamie Cracchiolo of Joseph Philip Craig Custom Homes and the homeowner on both projects, quickly switched gears from a design tailored to the existing property to one that would do justice to the new site.

The homeowners’ goals were not only to create a place that would serve as a current gathering spot and getaway for their family, but one that also could function as a gift to future generations. Designing a long-lasting retreat and one that would make the most of lake vistas and the lot’s connection to the beach were top priorities. “With any lake house, it’s all about the water view and how the home captures the assets of the site,” Neeper says.

Varied roof lines give the home a unique look from different perspectives.

The home’s large and heavily wooded hillside site may be enviable, but it wasn’t always easy to work with, the architect explains. The clients’ wish for a design with a strong beachfront connection required a driveway to be cut through an existing and previously impassible wooded bluff that dropped nearly 50 feet to an open meadow — and, eventually, to the beach. “The major challenges usually turn out to be the driving forces of a dynamic and unique design,” Neeper says. “In this case, it was the raw nature and terrain.”

Neeper’s imaginative solution included building two flanking four-car garage wings that act as retaining walls and create a motor court entry into the home’s main level. “The circulation spine (linear hallway) and service spaces are connected along the motor court as the plan spreads out along the lake, optimizing an open connection, visually and physically, toward the beach,” he explains.

Northern Michigan vacations provided the inspiration for the 12,700-square-foot residence’s architectural choice, a relaxed Shingle style that unifies the design inside and out. Exterior materials include both traditional siding and rustic stone from three Michigan quarries. “The architecture and materials are symbolic of the strength of tradition,” Neeper says. “The rough textures and earthen hues set a distinct contrast to the Victorian qualities of the Shingle-style forms.” The site design also depends heavily on natural ledge stone quarried from the Upper Peninsula to retain the earth along the drives, walks, and home perimeter, Neeper explains. “The stone is the primary element of strength that anchors the home to this site.”

The site design features natural ledge stone to retain the earth along the drives, walks, and home perimeter.

Inside, blue and gray tones punctuated with ivory and other neutrals provide a restful and relaxing palette and are another nod to the nearby lake, according to designer Tina Cracchiolo, of Craig & Co., and mother of builder Jamie Cracchiolo.The elegant yet easygoing East Coast-inspired style can be seen in the open living area and kitchen on the main floor, and in the home’s four bedrooms, seven baths, and two bunkrooms, which are built into the home’s sloping roof and are meant for the young and young at heart. Views can be had from all living and sleeping areas.

Tradition and timelessness are recurring themes. “The owners wanted the house to look like it had been there a long time,” the designer explains. That goal also drove some material choices, including scraped vintage-looking wood flooring and classic molding that includes a circular coffered ceiling and paneling in the front staircase, and paneling and coffers in the lower-level bar, which also showcases a custom built-in shuffleboard table. “Cottage-style interiors are reinforced through the millwork, which was designed to provide a casual and comfortable feel with a familiarity of the past,” the architect adds.

“In the end, the lake is everything,” says builder Jamie Cracchiolo. And this is one of the prettiest.

Builder Jamie Cracchiolo, who worked with his mother on the interiors and his brother on the landscaping, was often on-site during the construction process, he says. “I lived on the road for two and a half years,” he admits, adding: “The winters were very challenging.” Neeper credits Cracchiolo with being “not only the builder, but also an invaluable partner throughout the entire process.”

Cracchiolo, who grew up on Lake Angelus, says he can relate to the project’s family focus and to the homeowners’ unexpected yet serendipitous decision to change plans midstream, even if it meant starting from scratch. “In the end, the lake is everything,” he says.


Brian Neeper, Brian Neeper Architecture, Birmingham,

Jamie Cracchiolo, Joseph Phillip Craig Custom Homes Inc., Troy,

Armchairs – Uttermost
Bedframe – Taylor King
Bench – Taylor King
Chests, Bedside – Hooker Furniture
Table, Decorative – Uttermost
Flooring – Hand-Scraped Walnut, Everlast Floors, Troy
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Ozark Shadows

Armchairs – Rowe
Bar Stools – Jessica Charles
Centerpiece, Table – Hooker Furniture
Chairs, Dining – Hooker Furniture
Chandelier – Baldwin, Hudson Valley Lighting, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Troy
Fireplace – Custom Lake Blend, Bay Harbor Stone, Capital Stoneworks, Bridgeport
Flooring – Hand-Scraped Walnut, Everlast Floors, Troy
Rugs – Imagine Palmas, Felt Gray
Sofa, White – Rowe Furniture
Table, Coffee – Union Home Furniture
Table, Dining – Hooker Furniture
Table, Display – Mercana
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Ozark Shadows

The home looks extra-beautiful at night.

Armchairs – Rowe Furniture
Bookcases, Paint Color – Sherwin-Williams, Lace Custom Blend
Flooring – Hand-Scraped Walnut, Everlast Floors, Troy
Rug – Imagine Palmas, Felt Gray
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Ozark Shadows

Driveway and Walkway – Exposed Aggregate, Kwall Blend
Exterior Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Resilience; Shingle Siding, Peppercorn
Fireplaces – Custom Lake Blend, Bay Harbor Stone, Capital Stoneworks, Bridgeport
Garage Doors – Carriage House Doors, Birmingham Door Co., Troy
Patio – Gauge Bluestone
Plumbing Fixtures – Brizo
Rock Work – Superior Blue Boulders, Upper Peninsula; Installation, Northern Impressions, Troy
Roofing – Synthetic Slate with Copper Turrets, DaVinci Roofscapes
Siding – Shingle Siding, James Hardie
Stairs and Balcony – Northern Staircase Co., Pontiac
Stone – Custom Lake Blend, Bay Harbor Stone, Capital Stoneworks, Bridgeport
Trim – Azek Exteriors
Trim Color – Weather Shield, White, Custom Color Match
Windows – Weather Shield

Interior Design – Tina Cracchiolo, Craig & Co., Troy,
Landscaping – David Cracchiolo, Northern Impressions, Troy

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