IN 2009, JOHN AND LISA DYKEMA bought a small fixer-upper cottage on the west side of Elk Lake. The purchase had come after years of consideration about where in Northern Michigan, exactly, they wanted to have a summer cottage. While the Dykemas live in Wisconsin, John is from Michigan and often vacationed in Northern Michigan—many of those visits on or near Elk Lake. Over a period of summers, the family “tried out” rentals on various Up North bodies of water, including Grand Traverse Bay and Torch, Big Glen and Elk lakes. Eventually, the couple opted for the cottage on Elk Lake because of John’s connection to the area and its gorgeous shades of Caribbean blue.
As excited as the family was about their new summer home, there was a problem. It was tiny, and the Dykemas have four very tall boys—the shortest of them standing 6 feet, 3 inches tall. The cottage just wasn’t big enough for all those long limbs. When a lot (with another small cottage on it) went up for sale next to their cottage, the couple jumped at the chance to purchase it and decided to take both cottages down and build a home tailored to their family.
Besides having more space, Lisa dreamed of an Up North home that lived like a tropical beachfront escape—a barefoot-friendly dwelling with an abundance of windows to flood the home with light and views of Elk Lake. Also high on her wish list: A glassed-in front entry that would allow a view of the lake through windows on the lakeside. “I wanted to feel like I was home, but also on vacation the moment I pulled in the driveway,” Lisa says.
Lisa researched Northern Michigan architects on the web, as well as in back issues of Northern Home & Cottage. Architect Ken Richmond soon rose to the top of her list. When they met, Richmond impressed the couple with his enthusiasm and inspirational ideas for their site. As importantly, the Dyke mastrusted him to fuse their ideas for a home with a tropical ambiance into a design that fit into the Northern Michigan landscape. “That’s where Ken really took charge and gave us what we wanted and made our home look like Northern Michigan,” Lisa says.
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