Natural Habitat

Thoughtfully renovated home reflects its coveted location on the Thornapple River. // Photography by Ashley Avila and GS Studios.
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The riverfront setting offers beauty throughout the year. “ … (the house) fits the setting and complements the surroundings,” designer Kathy Waite says.

 Positioned between Cascade and Ada townships, this home’s riverfront setting has plenty of perks. “Everything you can do on a lake you can do on the river,” says Kathy Waite — and she should know. The principal of Kathy Waite Design in Grand Rapids lives on the same river as her friends-turned-clients, who had a home nearby but wanted to be on the water. 

“The river is beautiful all times of year and people can do all sports activities. It’s always been popular, but it’s become very desirable over the last 10 to 15 years,” she says. “You can have that cottage lifestyle and you’re 15 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, so this can be your everyday life instead of weekends. You can take an evening cruise on your pontoon to enjoy the view and the beautiful homes.”

An organic palette awaits once you step inside the inviting home.

Her clients found an existing home and a team that could preserve its footprint. “We remodeled it to fit their lifestyle,” the designer says. “We relocated the stairs and the master bath, for a better view.” 

Waite worked with Grand Rapids-based J. Visser Design, a residential architecture and design firm, and New Urban Home Builders. “It was a good team. We all listened to what the clients wanted,” she says. “What’s nice about the house is that it fits the setting and complements the surroundings.”  The exterior sets the stage for the hushed tones that were chosen for the organic palette.

With two teenage sons (one in college), the soon-to-be empty nesters can live on the main floor. “They are the gatherers of the family, and the home has a great layout for entertaining, plus amazing views of the river all year round,”  Waite says. Separate seating areas in the family room feature a fireplace on one side and a TV on the other, with distinct details like cognac-colored mohair chairs and halo lighting.

Separate seating areas in the family room feature a fireplace on one side and a TV on the other.

A three-season porch was opened up to create a spacious dining room, and the soaring architectural ceiling was updated. The custom table, a wet bar, and storage for 100 bottles of wine accommodate family gatherings. Doors lead to a deck overlooking the river.  

The action happens in the kitchen, where white perimeter cabinets join a white oak island, stacked ovens, and storage galore. “With a large family, it needed to be a cook’s kitchen and be beautiful, too. What’s behind all that is well-thought-out and extremely functional,” Waite says. 

A fabulous light fixture takes center stage in the dining room.

An easy flow suits the layout. “The home feels larger than the footprint. It’s configured in a way that the spaces are open, which makes them feel intimate and warm,” she explains. “You can have a lot of people in that house and it doesn’t feel crowded. And they can spill out on the deck, which overlooks the river.” 

The couple owns three homes on the water: one riverfront, one lakefront, and one gulf-front residence. “We’re sun-loving, water-loving, boat-loving individuals,” the wife says. “We love this location nestled in between Cascade and Ada townships. Both are up-and-coming and thriving areas.” At the river house, they enjoy tubing and waterskiing, and they say 20 guests aren’t uncommon, with a dozen or so who spend the night. 

Moving the staircase, which was originally in the kitchen area, provided a more practical kitchen layout.

The couple admits to being avid cooks. “We’re the hub of entertaining for both of our families, and we’re both in the kitchen working side by side,”  the wife says.  “We love to have big family meals, and our entertaining is centered around that. We sit around the dining table for hours and hours after dinner has ended. We can be hunkered down there until 1 in the morning with so many countless conversations, memories of the past, and good laughs.”

The dining room is a popular spot. Says the homeowner: “We sit around the dining table for hours and hours after dinner.”

For their hub, they wanted to keep the integrity of the original home, which had always been one of their favorites, but they needed to modernize the residence, which had been renovated by a previous owner in the ’90s. “The dining room was one of the biggest transformations. It’s a beautiful space with sweeping views of the river. When you’re inside, it feels like you’re eating outside,” the wife says. 

The family’s Cavapoo loves the lower level.

“The river is magnificent and the lot is beautiful, and we never get tired of the way we face the setting sun. We love the hustle and bustle of downtown Grand Rapids, then we can escape to our quiet little street with so much wildlife.” 

The den has plenty of light from lamps and the window to create a cozy reading space.

The interiors have an autumnal feel. “We didn’t want to compete with the outside, and Kathy nailed the visual we had in mind,” the wife says. “The neutral tones and natural fabrics draw the eye outside, and you catch little details on the inside at every turn. We wanted an organic feel and materials that can take a beating, like user-friendly fabrics that are easy to clean and maintain. So far, it’s been effortless. It’s an easy but sophisticated home that’s very comfortable and inviting.”   

River views continue in the master suite, which features a bed upholstered in mohair.

BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGNER 

Kathy Waite, Kathy Waite Design, Grand Rapids, kathywaitedesign.com

In the master bath, tile walls topped with glass provide privacy for the shower without blocking views. Wall-mounted sink faucets are low-maintenance.

BATHROOM, MASTER

Bathtub – Victoria + Albert, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Grand Rapids

Cabinetry – O’Brien Harris Woodworks, Caledonia

Countertop – White Quartz, Great Lakes Granite & Marble, Redford Charter Township

Flooring – Porcelain Tile, Virginia Tile Co., Grand Rapids

Sconces – Hudson Valley Lighting, Kendall Lighting Center, Grand Rapids

Tile, Shower – 12×24 Porcelain Tile, Virginia Tile Co., Grand Rapids

Wall Treatment – Thibaut

In the master bath, tile walls topped with glass provide privacy for the shower without blocking views. Wall-mounted sink faucets are low-maintenance.

BEDROOM, MASTER

Armchairs – Vanguard Furniture

Bed Frame – Hickory Chair

Bench – Vanguard Furniture

Chandelier – Hudson Valley Lighting, Kendall Lighting Center, Grand Rapids

Chests, Bedside – Vanguard Furniture

Flooring – Wool Carpet, Century Flooring and Cleaning, Grand Rapids

Lamp, Floor  – Visual Comfort, Kathy Waite Design Showroom, Grand Rapids

Lamps, Bedside – Arteriors, Kathy Waite Design Showroom, Grand Rapids

Ottoman – Hickory Chair

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Collingwood

 

DEN

Armchair, Wingback – Thayer Coggin

Chandelier – Visual Comfort

Drapery – Custom, The Workroom

Fireplace – Custom, DaVinci White Quartzite, Pascucci Marble & Granite, Grand Rapids; Fabrication, Great Lakes Granite & Marble, Redford

Flooring – Nylon Carpet, Century Flooring and Cleaning, Grand Rapids

Lamps, Table – Visual Comfort

Ottoman – Vanguard Furniture

Sofa – Vanguard Furniture

Table, Display – Vanguard Furniture

Wall Treatment – Custom, Stained White Oak, J. Visser Design, Grand Rapids

 

DINING ROOM

Artwork – Ginnie Cappaert, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids

Buffet – Old Biscayne Designs

Cabinetry – O’Brien Harris Woodworks, Caledonia

Ceiling Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove

Chairs, Dining – Vanguard Furniture

Chandelier – Hubbardton Forge, Kendall Lighting Center, Grand Rapids

Countertop – Custom, DaVinci White Quartzite, Pascucci Marble & Granite, Grand Rapids; Fabrication, Great Lakes Granite & Marble, Redford Charter Township

Flooring – White Oak, RT Baldwin, Hudsonville

Lamp – Visual Comfort

Rug – Scott Group Studio, Grand Rapids

Table, Dining – Custom, Kathy Waite Design, Grand Rapids; Fabrication, Woodland Furniture

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Collingwood

Another perspective of the living room.

FAMILY ROOM

Armchairs – Baker Furniture

Artwork – Rick Stevens, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids

Chandeliers – RH

Coffee Table – Custom, Kathy Waite Design; Fabrication, O’Brien Harris Woodworks, Caledonia

Fireplace – Limestone

Flooring – RT Baldwin, Hudsonville, White Oak

Ottoman, Leather – Lee Industries

Rug – Scott Group Studio, Grand Rapids

Shelving, Built-In – Designed by Kathy Waite Design, New Urban Home Builders

Sofa – Vanguard Furniture

Sofa, Sectional – Vanguard Furniture

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Collingwood

 

FOYER

Closets – Custom, J. Visser Design, Grand Rapids; Fabrication, New Urban Home Builders, Grand Rapids

Flooring – White Oak, RT Baldwin, Hudsonville

Light, Ceiling – Hinkley Lighting, Kendall Lighting Center, Grand Rapids

Mirror – Custom, LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids

Railing and Stairs – Blackened Steel

Rug – Scott Group Studio, Grand Rapids

Stool – Century Furniture

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Collingwood

 

KITCHEN

Bar Stools – Jessica Charles

Cabinetry – O’Brien Harris Woodworks, Caledonia

Countertop – Custom, DaVinci White Quartzite, Pascucci Marble & Granite, Grand Rapids; Fabrication, Great Lakes Granite & Marble, Redford Charter Township

Flooring – White Oak, RT Baldwin, Hudsonville

Hood – Custom, TerMolen & Hart, Grand Rapids

Lighting, Bar – Visual Comfort

Sconces – Hudson Valley Lighting, Kendall Lighting Center, Grand Rapids

Sink – Shaws, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Grand Rapids

Stove – Miele, Bekins, Grand Rapids

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Collingwood

 

LOWER LEVEL

Drapery – Custom, Kathy Waite Design, Grand Rapids; Fabrication, The Workroom; Fabric, Fabricut

Flooring – Wool Carpet, Century Flooring and Cleaning, Grand Rapids

Lamps, Floor – Visual Comfort

Pillows, Accent (Fabric) – Kravet, Kathy Waite Design, Grand Rapids

Sofa, Sectional – Lee Industries

Table, Coffee – Bernhardt

Table, Occasional – Vanguard Furniture

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Collingwood

J. Visser Design and New Urban Home Builders worked their design magic.

EXTERIOR

Building Materials – Stone and Wood

Landscaping – Rooks Landscaping, Ada

Masonry – Belden Brick & Supply, Grand Rapids

An expansive deck overlooks the river.

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS

Architect – J. Visser Design, Grand Rapids

Builder – New Urban Home Builders, Grand Rapids

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