New Point of View

Custom lakefront home makes couple’s wish list come true // Photography by Jeff Garland
The Classic Colonial home has three bedrooms, five bathrooms, and major curb appeal, featuring thick white trim and charming architecture.

When it came time to build a new home on White Lake in Highland Township, Pam and Scott Bower knew what they wanted, as they’d already spent decades in that location. “We lived in our previous home for almost 30 years, thinking,   ‘If we ever did this, what would we do?’ ” Scott says.

“We wanted a livable design for lake living,” Pam adds. She explains that their original house was one of two they owned on adjacent lots; both came down for the custom new-build on the property that’s now legally one lot. The enhanced lakefront lifestyle the couple gained in the process better fits their family of three, which includes grown daughter Katie and a German shepherd who loves to swim.

The classic Colonial home has three bedrooms, five bathrooms, and major curb appeal, with thick white trim and deep ocean-blue siding that echoes the setting. On the lake side, which is embellished with generous windows, a spacious walkout basement includes a full kitchen and bath, a natural stone fireplace, and stained concrete flooring that’s perfect for handling wet foot traffic.

Hickory floors were installed on the main level, where a cozy family room has another natural stone fireplace. An efficient kitchen was a must for Pam, a special ed teacher who enjoys cooking and entertaining. Its open layout incorporates lots of storage with custom cabinets, a walk-in pantry, a full-size fridge, and a full-size freezer. The bonus kitchen downstairs makes it easy to prepare casual meals for seasonal gatherings.

The couple worked with M.J. Whelan Construction in Milford on the award-winning home that Lisa Whelan, a company design consultant, describes as “fresh traditional” with unique architectural features like timbers that combine dark wood with white trim.

An expansive Ipe wood deck offers the ultimate outdoor living space for the family and their guests, with a covered section and a cable rail that provides unobstructed views. “Looking out at the lake from the living room and the kitchen, you feel like you’re right on top of the water,” Lisa says.

“They love the lake; they wanted a beautiful lake home with room to roam,” her husband, Matt Whelan, the firm’s co-owner, adds. To maximize the magnificent views, the upper deck — which can be accessed from the kitchen and the master bedroom — was situated off to the side, to keep the sightlines open. “We wanted to keep the outdoor living (space) without blocking the light or the view,” he explains. “In the winter, when you’re not on the deck, it’s just in your way.” A spacious patio below spans the back of the house and offers additional seating, including a hanging swing.

The only feature that remains from the original home is the garage, which blends seamlessly with the new structure. “Having the homeowners on-site the whole time was helpful,” Matt says. “They’re in the same place, but it’s a whole different life.”

Being able to stash their stuff was essential for the couple, who were very involved and open-minded, according to Chris Huber, external operations manager. “When you live on a lake, storage is important,” he says. Strategically placed closets are tucked throughout the home, while an overhead garage door on the lake side conceals equipment for year-round activities, ranging from toboggans to jet skis.

Aging in place was another significant consideration. “The main level was an opportunity for one-floor living, with the master bedroom and the laundry room on the same level,” Scott says, “so we can live here later, without any trouble.”

The kitchen and dining areas have stunning views.

The Bowers also wanted more room for family and friends. “The lake is a great spot for recreation and it’s a natural place to gather,” Scott says. A guest suite on the top floor has its own bath and coffee nook, making overnight stays extra special.

An open concept and wider doors offer the effortless indoor/outdoor living the couple envisioned, as do other luxuries like heated floors in the walkout basement. “It’s a great space,” Scott says of the basement. “In the winter, it’s warm and inviting. It’s one of the little extras you have to do in advance, or you miss the opportunity.”

Another notable feature is the tall chimney for the wood-burning fireplaces, which were built using stone that was quarried and milled in Michigan. Scott considers it an anchor for the home. “The masons are really artists, the way they fit all the irregular natural stones into a functional mosaic,” he says.

The laundry room is extra-spacious, with plenty of storage.

“This home is definitely proof it takes a village,” he adds, noting that the team at M.J. Whelan helped to make the couple’s dream a reality. Another collaborator was Brandy Wimmer, of Style to Sell Home Staging and Redesign, who assisted with the décor. Key pieces include the dining room table, which can be seen from the entry.

Unlike their former home, every room has a view of the water. “This is much nicer, and it’s a more inviting atmosphere,” Scott says. Pam agrees: “With all the windows and doorwalls, and a really good spot on the lake, I feel like we’re on vacation.”


M.J. Whelan Construction, Milford,

Bar Stools – Williston Forge, Wayfair
Bench, Dining – Fairview Woodworking
Chairs, Dining – Fairview Woodworking
Clock – HomeGoods
Flooring – Hickory Hardwood, Walnut
Table, Dining – Fairview Woodworking
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Agreeable Gray

Ceiling Fan –  Ray Lighting Center, Novi and Sterling Heights
Stone – Natural, Black River Ashlar Ledgestone, Stone Pro, Brighton

Cabinetry – Wood-Mode, Authentic Kitchen & Design, Milford
Flooring – Hickory Hardwood, Walnut; Shaw, ProSource of West Oakland, Wixom

Backsplash – Olympia Tile Queen Series, Beaver Tile & Stone, Farmington Hills
Cabinetry – Wood-Mode, Authentic Kitchen & Design, Milford
Countertop – MetroQuartz, Lakeside Surfaces, Brighton
Faucet – Elkay, Infusion, Wixom
Flooring – Hickory Hardwood, Walnut
Freezer – Frigidaire, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield
Hood – Frigidaire, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield
Lighting, Bar – ELK Lighting, Ray Lighting Center, Sterling Heights
Refrigerator – Frigidaire, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield
Runner – HomeGoods
Stove and Oven – Frigidaire, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Agreeable Gray

Light Fixture – Progress, Ray Electric, Sterling Heights
Rug – At Home
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Agreeable Gray
Washer and Dryer – GE, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield

Interior Design – Homeowners, and Brandy Wimmer, Style to Sell Home Staging and Redesign, Howell
Kitchen Design – Authentic Kitchen and Design, Milford
Lighting Design – Mary Shuboy, Ray Lighting Center, Sterling Heights
Plumbing Fixture Consulting – Jourdan Merritt, Wittock Kitchen & Bath, Birmingham

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