Country Living
Joy No 70 Family Reunions The Lake Effect Image Credit: Country Living
Joy No 70 Family Reunions The Lake Effect Image Credit: Country Living

Joy No. 70: Family Reunions - The Lake Effect

After a lifetime of trips to a charming Lake Michigan town, a Kentucky family finally takes the plunge and builds a summer retreat fit for all three generations.

Caroline Collins Mckenzie

Designer Chenault James ( knows better than almost anyone that the very best things in life involve family and come with age. Bourbon is in her blood—her father, Julian Van Winkle, founded Kentucky-based company Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery more than 30 years ago. And she and her sisters—they’re triplets!—Louise Breen and Carrie Greener co-own Pappy & Company (, a heritage clothing and housewares company inspired by the iconic bourbon brand.

As it turns out, the family who works together also likes vacationing together. The Van Winkles have spent summers in Harbor Springs, Michigan, for more years than Chenault can count. “My dad’s family started coming here when he was a kid as a way to escape the Kentucky heat,” she says. “I’ve been here every summer of my life. It’s been a special place for him to share with all of us.”

After years of renting, her parents, Julian and Sissy, finally decided to build a summer home of their own—a property large enough for the entire family, which, in addition to the three sisters and brother Preston, includes lots of grandchildren (Chenault and Preston both have two kids, Carrie has two, and Louise has three), ranging in ages from 3 to 7 years old. So, Sissy joined forces with daughter Chenault to create a new build chock-full of charm and character. “Every time you get to town, it’s like stepping back in time—you walk everywhere. Kids stay out playing— on their own!—until dusk. We wanted the house to capture that feeling,” 

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