Lake Michigan Summer House


lake michigan summer house

Door County, Wisconsin

When one of Ruth’s longtime clients acquired West Cliff, a storied Lake Michigan estate, he asked her to help him restore its original charm and create a comfortable gathering place for long weekends and vacations. Originally built in 1929, the property was the summer retreat of Ben Heineman, CEO of the Chicago and North Western Railway. In the 1960s, Heineman commissioned noted architect Harry Weese to design a master suite addition to the main house and a guest house. Guided by a desire to honor the integrity of the original architecture and the spirit of Weese's mid-century additions, Ruth and her client developed a plan to balance traditional and modern design influences while updating the house with contemporary conveniences. The client loves color, so Ruth used a version of an original color throughout the main living area. Ruth and team restored and replicated the original wood floors, added durable flooring and a clever dog door in the mudroom and painted the porch floor in the client's favorite “grandma’s porch grey" color. Heineman was an avid sailor, so Ruth furnished the living room with luxurious, yacht-inspired furnishings. Throughout the house, Ruth combined custom furniture, antiques and second-hand treasures to create an inviting retreat for family and friends.

Photography by Paul Johnson