Pentwater Perch

With four stories and two sets of spiral stairs, this quirky west Michigan retreat — the tallest house in town — is lovingly referred to as the family’s ‘birdhouse’ // Photography by Martin Vecchio
The Petrellas’ cottage is always ready for good times, at the firepit and on the deck, night and day.

The first thing your eye is drawn to on the third floor of Lisa and Ennio Petrella’s cottage is a pair of swivel chairs, and your first thought is likely to be:  “I wish I was sitting there!”  The comfortable seats look out to the tip of west Michigan’s Lake Pentwater and the adjoining channel to Lake Michigan, just a few feet from the Petrellas’ home. “We can just sit there for long periods of time and relax,” says Lisa, who runs Troy- and Detroit-based Lisa Petrella Interiors. “ In the summer, we watch large boats go in and out of the Pentwater Yacht Club. In the winter, you see ice floes. ” There’s no TV on the third floor, she adds — just the two chairs and the views beyond. “This is our quiet room for sitting and reading and daydreaming,” she says.

The couple discovered the 15-year-old home seven years ago.  “We were actually looking for a Victorian, as there are so many in that area,” Lisa recalls, but then they set eyes on a quirky six-bedroom, four-story home that was built by a man from Chicago who apparently had a passion for “partying,” as Lisa puts it.  “It has two spiral staircases and seven balconies,” she says,  “and we can sleep 26 people!”

After the original owner sold it to the couple who lived next door, the new owners moved the structure 35 feet to make room for a new home they were building. When the Petrellas purchased the cottage, they knew there were changes to be made. Lisa’s keen eye quickly took in the spaces and made a list of necessary design modifications. “For one thing,” she says,  “there were no closets in the bedrooms!”

After about six months of renovations, the couple was able to start enjoying their newly designed, charming getaway. Tradespeople were hired to install engineered wood floors; add new kitchen counters and cabinetry; add 10-inch shiplap throughout; paint the walls in pretty Simply White (by Benjamin Moore); renovate two of the four-and-a-half bathrooms; add on to the deck; install new window treatments; create a firepit area; and refurbish an old shed by adding a new roof, cement floor, and electricity.

Oranges and blues make a favorite color combination. A few nautical touches convey a lake theme.

The Petrellas also embellished the landscaping, which had 127 flourishing cedar trees when they bought the home. Today, the treescape — which provides great privacy — is complemented by black-eyed Susans, daisies, flowering cherry trees, Annabelle hydrangeas, hostas, and sea grasses (“we planted anything we could think of that the deer wouldn’t eat,” Lisa says).

Then there’s the interior design. Lisa fell in love with a large poster that she purchased at an antiques store just steps from her cottage, and that was her jumping-off point. “I wanted the home to be bright, with a lot of white, and then I brought in splashes of color in the artwork — oranges, blues, and reds.” She also  “shopped my own house in metro Detroit. Plus, I had things in storage, as many designers do, so that came in handy.” She says she also bought some items, including a chair for the great room and some outdoor furniture, from Four Hands. A wave of patterns adorn the cottage’s spaces, from gingham and plaids to koi-splashed fabrics. Polka dots, Ikat, and seersucker add dollops of fun. Lisa called on some of her favorite fabric companies, including Pindler, Schumacher, Kravet, and Ralph Lauren, to help bring her vision to life.

The Petrellas had the home’s dark brown bunk beds, left by the previous owner, painted a lake-inspired blue. Ennio installed west Michigan nautical maps as wallpaper in their powder room. They then placed map pins where their town, their cottage, and other favorite spots are located. Lisa selected a stained  V-groove paneling for the ceiling. “I wanted it to look like a boat deck,” she says. The finishing touch? A nautical-style light fixture.

A charming vignette welcomes visitors, while the room on the third floor showcases amazing views of the lake and channel.

Summer is a busy time. If the Petrellas aren’t cruising the waters on their pontoon, which is docked at the local marina, there are sailboat races to attend. In July, the couple throws a huge Fourth of July party; come August, they look forward to the town’s annual Homecoming Celebration. “There’s something every weekend,” Lisa says. With four stories, two spiral staircases, and those sunset-view balconies, no doubt there are several delightful perches at the Petrella cottage. A favorite for Ennio is the wooden daybed swing on the deck. Lisa designed it, and the craftspeople at South Carolina-based Lowcountry Swing Beds created it. She also hired Designer Furniture Services in Pontiac to make a mattress that can be left outdoors, using Sunbrella’s ticking from Schumacher. “I wanted the swing to look vintage and old,” Lisa says.

Lisa Petrella, Detroit and Birmingham based interior designer shows off her unique 4 story vaction get-away home in Pentwater Michigan. Photographed by Martin Vecchio for Detroit Home Magazine Summer 2018

“The house — I like to call it a  ‘birdhouse’ — is perfect for us and our visiting family and friends,”  Lisa continues. “And Pentwater is a cute little town with a farmers market, fun shops, and parades that are so Norman Rockwell-ish. Ennio asked me once,  ‘Why didn’t we do this 20 years ago?’  “

Have a seat and savor a summer’s day on captivating Lake Pentwater and the adjoining channel.


Lisa Petrella, Petrella Interiors, Detroit, Troy,

Bed, Suspended – Custom, The Porch Swing Co.
Cushion – Schumacher Fabric, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabricated by Designer Furniture Services, Troy
Pillows, Accent – Pottery Barn
Stool – HomeGoods
Wall Paint – Simply White, Benjamin Moore
Wall Treatment – 10-inch Pine Shiplap

Ennio Petrella’s favorite perch — the daybed.

Art, Beach – HomeGoods
Bed Frame – Jenny Lind Bed, Land of Nod
Bedding – Serena & Lily
Drapery – Kravet Fabric, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Gazelle, Ceramic – Made Goods
Lamp – Made Goods
Table – Antique
Wall Paint – Simply White, Benjamin Moore

The guest room features checks and zigzags, and cheerful beach art.

Bed Frame – Century Furniture
Bedding – Peacock Alley; Serena & Lily
Drapery – Ralph Lauren, Kravet Fabric, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamp – Doug Buffet Lamp, Stray Dog Designs
Pillows, Accent – Romo-Fleur, Capri, Tulipa
Table, Bedside – Stanley Furniture
Wall Paint – Simply White, Benjamin Moore
Wall Treatment – 10-inch Pine Shiplap

Chair, Hostess – Lee Industries – RJ Thomas Ltd., Schumacher Fabric, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chairs, Dining – Four Hands
Console Millwork – Custom-made by Mod Interiors (Design by Petrella Interiors, Troy, Detroit)
Light, Above Table – Visual Comfort Lighting, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy

The blue-and-white master suite suits the whole family.

Armchair – Lee, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy; Schumacher Fabric, Bailey Seersucker, Blue
Chair, Striped Fabric – Outdura, Pindler, Seacrest Denim
Flooring – Somerville Wood Flooring
Lamp, Table – Made Goods
Ottoman – Custom, Designer Furniture Services, Troy; Kravet, Brunschwig & Fils Fabric, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Pillows, Accent – Custom, Pindler and Thibaut Fabric, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Pottery Barn
Sofa, Cover Fabric – Nanda White, Pindler
Table, Occasional – Made Goods
Wall Paint – Simply White, Benjamin Moore
Wall Treatment – 10-inch Pine Shiplap
Window Shades – Montana Prairie, Hunter Douglas

Ennio Petrella installed west Michigan nautical maps as wallpaper in the powder room.

Cabinet – Custom
Flooring – Somerville Wood Floors, West Michigan Carpet & Floor, Hart
Light, Ceiling – Morris Flush Mount, Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Treatment – Nautical Maps

Lamp – Vagabond Vintage
Lighting, Overhead – Currey & Co., RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Mirror – Vagabond Vintage
Table – Lillian August, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Simply White, Benjamin Moore
Wall Treatment – 10-inch Pine Shiplap

Chairs, Swivel – Lee Industries, RJ Thomas Ltd.; Fabric, Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Cots and Bedrolls – Hedge House (Bedrolls) and Byer Maine (Heritage Cots)
Pillows (On Cots) – Serena & Lily
Pillows (On Swivel Chairs) – Anthropologie
Table, Wicker – Four Hands

Landscaping – Wessie Brothers, Hart

Lisa Petrella loves to garden and often spends time at her potting table near the shed.

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