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Peaceful, Easy Living

Life is lived to the fullest at this Northern Michigan home, created to last for generations.

When a Birmingham couple was ready to retire — that’s when the fun really started.

Craving the ultimate lake life — equal parts serenity and adventure — they moved full-time to their cottage Up North with plans to renovate. 

Already beginning preliminary designs for the home, builder Jamie Cracchiolo, partner with his dad, Joe, of Joseph Philip Craig Custom Homes in Troy, received a call from the homeowner: A gorgeous raw property on a nearby inland lake suddenly became available, and he had snatched it up.

Plans shifted. 

Cracchiolo and architect Brian Neeper, owner of Brian Neeper Architecture in Birmingham, walked the site, four acres of heavily wooded land with a 50-foot drop right down to the lake. “It was just an amazing piece of Northern Michigan property,” Neeper says. “It’s uniquely positioned, so there were challenges with the topography and the way it fell to the lake, but that also left me free to use my imagination on how to best use the property.”

The homeowners’ main requirements were that it was a warm and comfortable family home, with lots of bedroom suites and capitalizing on the stunning lake views. Neeper ran with that, creating a shingle-style retreat, brimming with plenty of East Coast cottage-style detailing — sweeping walls, moldings, columns and brackets, tempered by as much window as possible. 

The homeowners planned on round-the-clock entertaining, but Neeper also created secluded spaces tucked away for moments of quiet, reading, work or a luxurious nap. “There are lots of free forms, which made it lots of fun to design,” says Neeper, who designed all the millwork throughout the home. Despite its massive 12,000-square feet, Neeper and interior designer (and Jamie’s mom) Tina Cracchiolo, owner of Craig & Company in Troy, were able to keep the entire home low-key, low-maintenance and livable — a luxurious life to live, but completely devoid of pretense. 

“Brian is a dear friend — we have great chemistry and a great working relationship,” Jamie Cracchiolo says. “This home really benefited from that. There’s a lot of passion.”

While traveling, the husband would talk to Tina Cracchiolo about what the home really meant to him. ““They wanted a lake house that might have been there for 50 years, but with modern amenities — to be very comfortable, with no signs of any specific trends or periods,” she says. “But he wanted to perpetuate the timelessness. His plan was to keep the home in his family from generation to generation, for his kids and their kids, to have this wonderful gathering place that he created for them. A lake house that would live on and on.”

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