Floating Above the Fray

Often, a simple image, the beauty of language and the radiance of your own imagination can transport you to a whole other world. To discover a small quirk in the fantasy before you’ve even embarked on the mystical, magical tour makes the sojourn all the more delectable. That was my feeling on discovering this unimagined getaway, a newly designed beach house nestled on the dunes, edging the forest and looking out over the water as far as the eye can see, not, as one might suspect, across the inestimable expanse of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, but across the slightly more measured lakes of Michigan. (Disclosure: Michigan is one of this author’s most cherished spots).

This unexpectedly charming Michigan getaway, designed by architect, Laurence Booth, was created to cantilever out over the dunes, permitting the sands beneath it to come and go as it pleases. “It’s like a platform,” said the architect in describing the 2,300-square-foot house he built for Irving Stenn and Judith Racht, who live in Lincoln Park. “The foundation is smaller than the house, so the sand shifts underneath.”

The way Booth tells it, his clients not only wanted to enjoy the spectacular views of the lake, dunes and forest, but wanted to be engulfed by it. Their dream was to have the house “hunkered down inside the landscape.” An enticing idea.

Inspiration and a bit of creative thinking pulled off what you see here, a windswept lakeside plot that can only be described as being “one with nature.”


An exchange of ideas proceeded:

Client: “We were at a marina in the city, watching the sailboats go out and I saw all the sails swooping, billowing out with the wind, and thought, we should do a swooping roof.”

Architect: “Light hits the curved ceiling and you see it go from intense to fading out, so there’s change and variety. It’s pure theater.”


Opinions on materials prevailed:

Architect: “You’re going up there on weekends; you don’t want to have to paint and scrape.” His solution was a zinc-clad copper exterior and carefree aluminum-framed windows carefully scaled to promote a sense of intimacy. “It’s a friendly house but also tough as nails.”

Client: “He got it just right. The metal and glass reflect the trees, the lake, the moon. It’s so beautiful to look up at the house from the beach.”


Once the work was done, the rooms were filled with some wonderfully conceived mid-century furniture—a Hans Wegner dining table, an Edward Wormley sofa—and colors dictated by what was viewed directly outside the windows. (Photo Gallery)

The setting is provided. Imagination takes over. How might you spend your days and night here?

I, for one, would wallow shamelessly in the moment. And for those who remain a bit befuddled as to what they might anticipate or fantasize about, you need look no further than the ambiance. According to the happy clients, “Storms and sunsets are incredible here.”




~ by eaesthete on 07/16/10.

5 Responses to “Floating Above the Fray”

  1. What a fantastic home! Concrete floors juxtaposed with warm, wood-tone, mid-century modern furniture, lit through walls of glass is my dream home. Placing it seaside (or lakeside) completes the fantasy. Thanks for the virtual tour.

  2. Oh I dream of a holiday home by the sea/lakeside, this one’s gorgeous and it’s filled with mid-century modern furniture too. Perfect. But I have to admit, I’d settle for a beach hut!

  3. goodness gracious! I’d love to see the inside so much! with its mid-century furniture and most certainly the Hans Wegner dining table!

  4. Also looks very much like Block Island, which I used to sail to as a college schooner sailor from Montauk aboard The Appledore. Thanks for the memory . . .

  5. nice post. thanks.

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