WRITER | RACHEL WHITE
PHOTOS | CASEY SPRING
Lake Life in Kalamazoo
When people think of lake life in Michigan, they may picture sunrises and sunsets over gently lapping waves. Or, perhaps, wildlife comes to mind, the gorgeous views, the scent of the woods and the fresh water, or the tranquility that you don’t find anywhere else. The bustling city life of Kalamazoo is probably not the first place that comes to mind. But one look at the 2,000-acre all-sports Gull Lake may just change that perspective forever. Master Builder Jack Gesmundo of AVB had one objective: design and build a lakeside cottage that takes advantage of 140 feet of lake frontage and unbeatable views of Gull Lake while maintaining the quality and workmanship that AVB is known for. Mission complete.
From the front, the home appears to be a cozy cottage with charming features including whitewashed cedar shake siding, metal roof detail over the garage and dormer window, gable detail with accent wood dentil molding, an exceptional curved gambrel roof over the garage, and stacked stone exterior. But step inside, and you’ll find an award-winning open floor plan perfect both for entertaining dozens of your closest friends or for intimate evenings by the fireplace.
Designed by Visbeen Architects, this 4,900-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath lakeside retreat has a warm and intimate feel, making the most of the lake views with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors along the lake side of the house. “It was a very collaborative process, and Visbeen is excellent to work with,” says Gesmundo. The layout flows from room to room effortlessly.
Visbeen started with a chef’s kitchen designed for entertaining. The crisp white custom cabinetry is by Mid Continent Cabinetry, with quartz countertops and a white tile backsplash adding to the fresh and clean look. The Italian appliances are by Bertazzoni, and there is an expansive working pantry to keep countertop appliances out of sight. The wooden beams on the ceiling give the kitchen and dining area a cohesive and inviting feel.
The dining room has a wet bar that begs for summer soirées. “When you live on a lake, you do a lot of entertaining,” says Gesmundo. “Having a place to set up food and beverage stations without disrupting people gathering or cooking in the kitchen…it functions very well.” The wet bar has an icemaker and beverage refrigerator to keep wine at an ideal temperature on one side and beer in its own climate zone on the other.
The dining room leads right into the living area, where a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace with custom shelving on either side takes center stage. The floors throughout the main level are sliced white oak in 7-inch planks. Hues of soothing grays and whites, along with wood accents, continue the gracious retreat feel of the home, and chevron-detailed barn doors provide architectural interest. The mudroom off the garage has a built-in bench with drawers, hooks, and a closet – a place for everything.
The owner’s master suite rounds out the main floor. Off the rich and luxurious bedroom, there is a closet you could get lost in. A favorite feature is the pocket office. It’s a space that includes a built-in desk to work at, and it keeps papers and laptops out of sight. The bath is enormous and has shiplap siding with classic black metal framing the mirrors, and black metal hardware and plumbing fixtures. There is also a walk-in shower and his-and-hers vanities.
Upstairs, you’ll find three more en suite bedrooms. The split stairs lead in two directions, providing privacy to guests and family members. In one direction is a sumptuous guest bedroom suite; in the other, more bedrooms and a custom-designed bunk room that is a children’s paradise.
The most important feature at this lake house is the outdoor space. Off the kitchen, dining, and living area is a generous screened porch for late dinners al fresco and a stone patio for a relaxing morning coffee. Massive stone slab steps lead down to the grassy lawn, which in turn leads to the sandy beach. There is storage on the lower level for all sorts of beach toys: stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, fishing poles, and more.
So, next time you think of Kalamazoo, will a gorgeous lakeside haven come to mind? Walking down to the water to take a dip, relaxing in a hammock on the porch, maybe hopping in a canoe and paddling around in the quiet of the morning… Yeah. In Kalamazoo, life is better on the lake.
4200 W Centre Avenue, Portage MI 49024
(269) 323-2022 l AVBInc.com