When building a home from the ground up — especially on sandy, waterfront ground that has a tendency to shift and slide with the whims of the weather — a solid foundation is a critical element. For Jeff and Annette Brennan, whose Crooked Lake home is the subject of this Great Lake Story, that foundation is as much about the literal infrastructure as it is about the intangible confidence that comes from the stable, competent, collaborative team that Ryan La Haie, of 42° North – Architecture + Design, assembled to deliver the finished product.
In addition to La Haie’s sound design, Christine DiMaria’s impressive interior styling and décor, and Jeff Cnossen’s expert construction, two additional contractors played instrumental roles in creating a home that’s effortless in both form and function. Kirshman Kitchen & Bath Design Studio built the vast majority of the custom cabinetry, while TruMedia equipped the home with the technology to automate everything from lighting to shades to entertainment, and more.
One of the challenges with a design that leans toward the contemporary is that, in its simplicity, it risks looking boring. Kyle Kirshman ensured that the Brennans’ home was no such thing. Floating shelves offer relief amid the many wrap-around kitchen cabinets. A bookmatched, granite-topped island with waterfall edges serves as both a centerpiece and a subtle work of art. Modern colors and textures in the lower-level bar, including a corrugated steel backdrop and aluminum banding on the wine rack, attract the eye and provide interest without being over the top.
“Jeff and Annette gave me a lot of freedom,” Kirshman says. “By making the interior feel like it reflects the style of the home itself, it will never go out of style and will always feel like it belongs. That was my inspiration for the design.”
In addition to free rein, what also made all of these custom details possible is that Kirshman doesn’t use factory-made, catalog-ordered cabinets. “We don’t know what a customer’s cabinets will look like until we design them,” he says. “We have great flexibility; we use our creativity and imaginations, which helps tremendously when designing. We can really do anything.”
Most important is the satisfaction of the homeowner, and the Brennans couldn’t be happier. “There were several times where challenges were overcome because of Kyle’s standards and commitment to quality,” Annette Brennan says. “Our kitchen is fantastic; it’s the true heart of the home, and the bathrooms and bar are gorgeous.”
Beyond the pleasing appearance of the home is a sense of carefully curated ambience, provided by TruMedia. The company worked extensively with the Brennans, as well as La Haie, to understand how they live and what’s important to them. TruMedia’s goal was to use technology to enhance the space without it feeling over-orchestrated or confusing to use. The result is a series of scenes, or moods, that control the lighting, raise and lower the shades, and engage the entertainment systems — all either pre-programmed or accessible with the touch of a finger. In keeping with the desire to maintain the aesthetics of the home, it’s all achieved with a single, six-button keypad that blends seamlessly with the towering stone wall in the entryway.
“The Brennans’ home has become a living, breathing system, and working with an integrator is what brings that all together,” Amanda Wildman, co-owner of TruMedia, says. “We’re kind of like the nervous system. These automations make (the Brennans) feel at ease in their home. They complement the design work of Ryan and Christine, and intensify the glow of the sun as it sets over the lake.”
For the Brennans, these features balance a modern, high-tech feel with simplicity of operation. “TruMedia really are experts in the latest technology in home automation, and this project became a showcase for what’s possible in lighting, audio, security, and automated window blinds,” Jeff Brennan says. “The technology is hidden, but convenient to use — and being able to control the comfort of the home makes entertaining and daily living easy and enjoyable.”
With so many moving parts, teamwork was absolutely essential to the project’s success. “We all had to trust each other and rely on each other and communicate with each other,” Wildman says. “Ultimately, it was about everyone’s commitment to creating the best experience for the homeowners.”
In the closing chapter, coming in early 2023, we’ll reveal the Brennans’ Crooked Lake home in its full glory. Look for it in Michigan BLUE’s Winter issue.
Great Lake Story is a continuing series chronicling exceptional waterfront homes and those who design, build, and own them. Michigan BLUE invites you to learn more about the team crafting the Brennans’ new residence on Crooked Lake at mibluemag.com.