Creative Endeavors

Legacy in design

Text: R.Collins 

As a testament to easy-going summers and northern Michigan’s distinctive natural elements, Architect Ken Richmond, AIA, composed a modern-day wood cabin perched on one of Lake Michigan’s scenic bluffs for a family positioned in Chicago full-time. The three-story home was affectionately named Good Heart Lodge after its location in the Michigan town, Good Heart, and it connects the family to its roots as the third generation to make the area a vacation residence.  

“It’s an extension of the old family compound,” Richmond said. “It’s on a really spectacular site, up [on the bluff] overlooking the world.” 

Richmond’s full-service architectural and planning firm—Ken Richmond, Architect—also partnered with Scott Kennard of Wentworth Builders, a contracting firm based in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and interior designer Ann von Kreuter of the Glencoe, Illinois-based firm House and Home. Common Ground Landscapes architect Maureen Parker sculpted the home’s tricky surrounding landscape, rounding out the one-year building process that resulted in the home’s raw, natural charm. 

“They kept it really natural and raw on purpose, so it’s not manicured,” Richmond said. “The idea is that it might feel like an old family lodge that had been there a long time. It [uses] modest materials done in old-timey ways.”

Part of this inspiration—especially within the design of the central fireplace—was supplied by a small cottage the family owns in the area that once belonged to a local stone mason renowned in the area for his work. The home preserves aspects of his legacy in design and local craft in ways that make it classic and highly functional, yet designed with specific goals in mind. The interior structure of the home was inspired by traditional log cabin bunks with one central corridor flanked by bedrooms. 

Richmond Architects Kate Gjaja home. Photo by Todd Zawistowski

To complement the purposely straight-forward architecture, Richmond structured every wall with raw cedar planks in light shades to reflect light and create a simple, airy space that reflects the outside landscape, from sandy bluffs and dune grass to the tall pines surrounding the home.

“The goal was to not disturb [the site],” Richmond said. “We like the trees, the scrubby material, and everything that’s out there. It’s a brutal site in terms of the weather, but it’s spectacular for the same reason.”

With the original floorplans for the home entirely dependent on the elevated site overlooking Lake Michigan and its views, the rest of the design mirrored the simplicity the finished product would require. Although, Richmond said, as a designer it can be difficult to resist adding extra product onto purposely fresh, unladen design plans. 

“There is so much momentum against that in our culture, but it’s fun to do. It’s fun to get clients that have that sort of aesthetic and want to run with it,” Richmond said.

As a result, the team utilized a stone chimney, laminate countertops, pedestal sinks without cabinets, hardwood floors, raw pine doors, and asphalt shingles on the roof as a base for the interior’s aesthetic softened by shades of light blues, sea foam, and cream. Richmond describes it as a beautifully basic concept that avoids trends to serve as a space dedicated to family traditions, simple vacations, and unforgettable views of Lake Michigan.

“[This family] had the idea that they would come up to this cottage, take their shoes off, and they wouldn’t go back on,” Richmond said. 


Photos by Todd Zawistowski