“It’s only a very simple cottage!” Was the rallying cry the clients and their architect, Nils Finne, had to keep replicating lest they get too carried away. Finne had made a renovation on the clients’ chief house in Seattle about 12 decades back, and they knew he was the man to design their new holiday home in Michigan from scratch. “These clients wanted me to let in a small roughness,” Finne states, “to keep things simple and to not make anything too precious.”
Once the mom of one of those clients handed on the land for her, it had been in the family for generations. “There was a small existing cottage on the website, but it was beginning to rot away, and it will rot entirely away,” Finne states. After five trips to Michigan to get Finne, and about two decades of planning and construction, the few now enjoys spending substantial portions of their summers in their new build with family members and friends, and hosted Thanksgiving dinner prior to shutting down the home to winter. The clients were concerned about Mom’s reaction to the large change to the property, but if she walked through the door first time, she gasped, “It’s fantastic!”
at a Glance
Who lives here: A few having a son in college and two grown children
Location: The beaches of Lake Superior on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, about 300 miles from Minneapolis
Size: About 2,000 square feet on 3 acres; 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Year built: 2008
Sustainable construction elements: Two-by-8 structure (for 40 percent greater insulation value); generous glass areas to provide natural light and ventilation; big overhangs for sunlight and snow security; metal siding to durability. Interior finish materials include bamboo-plywood cabinets, linoleum floors, locally grown maple floors, birch paneling and low-VOC paints.
“The home is about 30 feet from the lake’s shore; the photographer practically had his toes in the water when he took the opportunity,” Finne states.
A 40-foot-long glass wall allows expansive views of Lake Superior and its rocky shore. “We had the Marvin windows supplied and installed by a fantastic ensemble, St. George Glass,” Finne states. “They do a great deal of commercial storefronts, so our glass wall didn’t faze them.”
Lake Superior has a dramatic rocky shore. If you look closely, you can see the old cottage about 75 feet from the new home, toward the left side of this red circle. The structure right outside the circle is the garage.
Finne went with an elemental approach to the structure and design that kept framing down costs. The residence is made up of two simple volumes: the main living spaces (foreground) and a bedroom tower (background).
Overhangs protect the entryways from snow sliding off the roof and the insides from direct sunlight. A Montana ledgestone chimney ties in to the coast.
Instead of using much more expensive natural hemp siding, Finne selected corrugated steel with a baked-on zinc color. “Instead of appearing painted on, this end has a metallic look,” he states.
Siding: Nu Wave corrugated steel in Zactrique II colour
“Building from the forests has its own set of peculiarities,” Finne states. “For example, there are ferocious woodpeckers that try to attack the corrugated metal siding” The siding had to be specially sealed to keep other woodsy creepy-crawlies from getting into the corrugations.
Building across the shore also includes its peculiarities, including stringent setback requirements. “The base is right at the required setback from the coastline,” Finne states. “By cantilevering the most important living area out over the land, we could get 5 feet nearer to the shore”
Bugs are a component from the forests, which is the reason you do not see large decks. “Instead of adding decks in which the family could be eaten alive, the most important living area and its operable windows can function as one big screened-in porch,” Finne states.
He hailed the timber out of a mill down the road. The floors are native Michigan maple; the paneling, birch. Fir rafters across fir tongue and groove panels make up the ceiling.
Finne likes to make custom furniture and lighting bits to the homes he designs. “Most of these lines across the space are rather rectilinear; I wished to deliver a softness into the space with a few curves,” he says. “Together this table, the kitchen island and also the bar form a succession of curves echoing inside the rectilinear space”
Sinuous pubs on the custom lighting fixtures provide another collection of curves overhead.
The cabinets are Plyboo, an FSC-certified bamboo merchandise. Finne additional sapele end panels to pick up on the sapele table (sapele and mahogany have been in the exact same family; now sapele is much more widely available and a good mahogany substitute). A local craftsman, Al Taylor, did such a stunning job on all the custom woodwork that Finne currently uses him to do work for his endeavors all around the nation. “Forget outsourcing abroad; we ought to really be outsourcing to Michigan,” Finne states.
Cabinets: custom by Al Taylor, Taylor Made Furniture in Marquette, Michigan; light manufacture, convention by Matt Shoudy, Illume; countertops: Corian
Finne also custom made a sinuous custom room display between the front door and the living area. “It forms a defined entry area without interrupting the flow of the primary room,” that he describes.
Tripod lamp, sofa, chair: Design Within Reach; java table: custom by Finne
The display is a combination of maple wood and steel. Blackened steel accents are just another element that provide continuity through the home.
The display is toed into plates around the floor to keep it from toppling over.
Finne also made this custom coffee table to the living area; it creates continuity with another sapele pieces used through the first floor.
Finne put the master bedroom in the surface of the tower, making an aerie-like perch in the trees. It is open to the primary living area under and enjoys spectacular canyon views, but can also be made cozy by well-placed groove and tongue birch paneling.
“Most of the timber we used across the home is grade-D quality,” Finne states. “Usually I would go for something more consistent, but my clients kept telling me, ‘It’s only a very simple cabin! ””