WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | STUDIO GRAPHICS PHOTOGRAPHY
Centrally located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is the village of Shepherd, where Mike and Annette Florian have owned Annette’s Construction and Seawalls since 1989. From contemporary to log, Florian and his team build custom homes of various designs throughout Michigan and beyond. One log home in particular — his own — reveals his limitless creativity and craftsmanship.
Along a creek-like section of the Salt River near the 15th hole of the Maple Creek golf course in Shepherd, the 4,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath home exudes the warmth and coziness the Florians desire.
“If you were to walk into our home right now, you would see comfy, down-to-earth living,” says Florian, who is an avid big game hunter in the US and Canada. “We like to go to Montana and stay in big lodges, and people who come here think they are sitting in Montana somewhere.”
The classic white pine D log siding with butt and pass corners of the conventionally built home were sourced from Michigan and Tennessee. The logs are milled flat for the interior side and curved like a capital “D” for the exterior. Butt and pass refers to how the logs meet: one butts up to another that passes by. Both are examples of the many construction styles homeowners can choose from when building a custom log home. The logs are treated with LifeTime® — a nontoxic wood treatment stain — and Mike says he’ll recoat his home about every 10 years as a one-weekend project.
Merging Michigan river rock with the warmth of white pine and woodsy green dimensional 50-year shingles creates the rustic exterior the Florians love. Supported by Colorado aspen beams, the western front porch with its boardwalk-stamped concrete patio gives guests a hint of the rustic beauty to follow as they cross the threshold.
Similar to the grand lodges of the West, the home’s interior is wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor prefinished tongue-and-groove knotty pine trimmed in Colorado aspen. With spray foam insulation behind every wall and ceiling, Florian can heat the home for as little as $128 per month. To accommodate five grown children, 17 grandchildren, and two Airedales, hand-scraped smoked hickory flooring is used on both the upper and main levels. “It’s just good, hard flooring and has a 50-year guarantee for scratches and fading,” says Florian.
Special features are abundant throughout the entire home. Perhaps the most intriguing is the cast iron Milwaukee Road Lionel train in HO scale that operates remotely around the perimeter of the living room atop the 16-inch-wide Colorado aspen shelving. “I knew a guy when I was little who had a train that went around his whole house, and I’ve always wanted one,” says Florian. “Every one of the Department 56 houses behind the train lights up, and we use that for the night light.” He uses Lionel pine-scented smoke fluid for added ambiance as the train puffs around the track.
The stairway to the upper playroom and master bedroom level is created from solid red pine sourced from Traverse City, and nearly all of the furniture is handmade by Mike and the couple’s Timber Creek Rustic Furniture business, also based in Shepherd. Noticing how much rustic furniture Annette was buying online gave Mike the idea to transfer his 30 years of furniture-making knowledge into the now three-year-old business. His rustic creations are shipped all over the US. He also loves to build custom hot rods in the two-car garage in the backyard and says that all these interests mean he doesn’t sleep much.
Florian especially favors making furniture with Colorado aspen for several reasons. “It’s the most unique wood and looks very rich. If you’ve looked at one cedar bed, you’ve looked at them all, but Colorado aspen is a medium wood; it is soft like pine, and is full of character.”
Florian’s furniture and antler chandelier creations can be seen at every turn. Reclaimed local barn wood and picket fence are skillfully used in furniture and cabinetry. The pool table in the playroom was transformed from traditional to rustic, and even the Howard Miller grandfather clock – a gift from Mike to Annette when they were first married – received an aspen log makeover.
Two bedrooms with two baths are located on the main floor near the living room and kitchen, including one with a slider leading to the kidney-shaped in-ground pool. Interesting granite countertops in each bathroom are made from what Florian calls “river rock granite” for its dark background and hundreds of interesting, multicolored rocks.
The kitchen’s open floor plan and stainless steel appliances effortlessly blend with the granite countertops, handmade knotty oak full-faced cabinetry, mosaic, glass, copper tile, and LED strip lighting under the cabinets that change colors with the click of a remote. The adjacent dining area has a 31-foot peak and a wall of Michigan river rock surrounding the gas fireplace. The impressive 16-inch cedar log mantel that spans nearly 12 feet was hand-carved in Traverse City, and the handmade dining room set combines leather chairs with a spalted maple tabletop and Colorado aspen legs.
Above the dining room on the upper level is the playroom loft. This “must-have” leads to the master bedroom with a walk-in closet and open bathroom concept. “We always wanted a playroom loft, bathrooms off every bedroom, and for all of our furniture to be custom – so that’s what we did,” says Florian.
Wood has a way of calming the soul, and the Florians have created the warm, cozy feeling they relish from the lodges of Montana in their custom log home built for large family gatherings and ultimate relaxation. “We’re outdoorsy, rustic people – it’s just what we like,” says Annette.
Annette’s Construction and Seawalls
491 E Wright Avenue
Shepherd, MI 48883