Cliff House


Lake michigan cliff House

Door County, Wisconsin

When Ruth's client was a teenager, he'd often boat past this iconic house that juts out over Lake Michigan and dream of owning it one day. Decades later, as luck would have it, the client was able to acquire the house and he asked Ruth to help him renovate it, as it had fallen into disrepair. Designed in 1969 by Chicago architect Harry Weese, the home was part of West Cliff, a 30-acre summer retreat owned by Ben Heineman, CEO of the Chicago and North Western Railway. Heineman, an avid sailor, wanted the space to feel like a yacht, so the interiors, complete with nautical weather instruments, were designed by sport yacht manufacturer Palmer Johnson. Guided by the home's original glamorous 007-meets Zen vibe, Ruth and her client embarked on a painstaking two-year renovation which included replacing the original plywood structure with a custom matte glass box to house the kitchen, a Murphy bed, a bathroom and storage, restoring the marine-quality teak, reupholstering the original curvaceous pull-out beds and hand-polishing the circular glass window that looks down on the water below.

Photography by Paul Johnson