WRITER | PAM TOIGO
Engineered for Impact
This was not your average modern Lake Michigan home. It already had great bones, as it was originally built in 1983 by noted St. Joseph architect John Allegretti. But under the keen eye and masterful skill of Tom Gold, owner of Tom Gold Construction, a design-build firm in New Buffalo, the two-year renovation of this six-bedroom, seven-bath, 6,800-square-foot home would become so much more than one could ever have imagined. It also became something of an engineering marvel.
The project started with a complete exterior and structural overhaul.
“We stripped off the original siding and reframed a good portion of the home to accommodate the additions and modifications, but we kept true to the original design,” recalls Gold.
Since the homeowner didn’t want to see a large garage door on the front of the house, the build team designed and constructed a wall with a window on the front of the house instead. This entire wall lifts to reveal a garage space, keeping the integrity of the clean lines of the home. The steel walls along the driveway act as decorative but sturdy retainers, and they repeat in the back of the house, on the patio, and as planters. Thousands of screws were used in this feature which was meant to look rivet-like, giving the whole thing a modern industrial feel.
Also notable is the window-topped tower in front. The original tower was constructed of plywood and was merely decorative, but Gold and his team rebuilt it to function as a modern lighthouse, of sorts. The homeowner can control the lighting, including the light color, using his phone from anywhere in the world.
The engineering demands continued throughout the home’s interior as well. The construction team restructured the entire interior and brought in steel beams to extend the second-floor plate. Additional skylights and large windows let natural light pour in from all angles, and the open and airy feel from the peaked ceiling brings warmth to the contemporary design.
Perhaps the most eye-catching interior feature is the expansive use of Glassos. Boasting a clean, slick look, the glossy white countertops in the kitchen and baths, the bath flooring, and even the top of the kitchen ledging are made of this high-density milk glass. Glassos is the purest crystalized glass available and is made using a proprietary process of first sintering and then fusing glass crystals. Imported from China, it is a delicate and finicky product to work with.
“This highly tempered infused glass is very challenging. If it’s cut wrong, the glass shatters. There is only one person in the area skilled at working with this material; it’s very hard to control,” notes Gold.
No luxury was spared on the interior. From the high-end wallpapers to the specialty cabinetry and hardware to the hand-planed and hand-sprayed wide-plank white oak flooring, nothing was rushed. Everywhere you look, the custom finishes dazzle, shine, and impress.
And it doesn’t stop there. Walking out onto the back deck and bluestone patio overlooking Lake Michigan, a steel wall along the patio catches the eye. Meant to mimic Stonehenge at the request of the homeowner, the alternating six-foot steel boxes give plenty of privacy and an artful flair. Custom steel handrails flank the stairs heading to the beach, and a masterfully crafted round deck constructed with Epe wood provides a space to relax off the sand and take in the views. Even this was no easy accomplishment. Because Epe is a very dense and hard wood, it was cut into ¼-inch sections that were then glued together to achieve the curves and rounded shape.
Take just a few steps along the matching trellised decking and you arrive at a newly constructed cabana and beach garage. One side of the building stores water vehicles and beach gear. The other houses the beach cabana, featuring hand-polished plaster walls, an orb fireplace for chilly days on the beach, a convenient outdoor shower, and, of course, a custom hot tub. The build team had their hands full in anchoring all of this on the shoreline since it needs to withstand shifting sands and high winds. But challenging projects are nothing new to the Tom Gold Construction team.
“In these bigger projects, the level of detail changes from project to project. The bigger challenge is keeping up with these changes that arise along the way and working them into the plan seamlessly,” notes Gold.
Mission accomplished! In the end, this engineering marvel turned into a custom, specialized, and truly spectacular lake house, ready to host summers of fun for the homeowner and his guests for many years to come.
Tom Gold Construction Co., Inc.
27 S Whittaker Street, New Buffalo MI 49117