What could have been a tear-jerker turned into a fairytale ending for Tom Herr and Claire Ewart, a children’s book author and illustrator. They always intended to preserve the charm of the storybook cottage they discovered on a densely wooded lot on Michigan’s southwest lakeshore. But when the couple’s designer, Town + Country Cedar Homes, found decay, it proved beyond repair or restoration.
When the couple decided to tear down the cabin and rebuild, that’s when their story truly began. Together with Town + Country, Claire and Tom built Black Bear, the name they’ve affectionately bestowed on their new cottage. During the building process, they were careful to keep the structure within the cottage’s original footprint, and they salvaged what they could from the old property: a white and turquoise exterior color scheme, a big bell on the home’s front door, boulders from its original foundation.
Bit by bit, Black Bear came together. Claire was deeply involved in crafting it along the way with the same love and care she gives to her stories and illustrations. She had a vision for the fireplace and worked with the stone mason to lay out the field stones used to create her impressive design. She even ventured into a cedar swamp to handpick and then place each of the cottage’s whimsical branching elements. The final product is a cottage with as much character as one of Claire’s beloved books.