The Best of Both Worlds: Old World Craftsmanship Meets Modern Innovations

Wagner Vacation HomeFor Lore and John Wagner, deciding where to build their vacation home – a roughly 2,700-square-foot European-inspired timber cottage surrounded by beautifully rugged landscape and sand dunes – was easy. The two Michigan natives had spent considerable time vacationing in the Great Lakes region. Over time they not only fell deeper in love with the area but also decided that they wanted to call it home, at least part of the year.

After spending some time with Lore’s sister in her vacation home in Cross Village, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Michigan, the Wagners were even more enamored with the idea of a lakefront vacation house. John says that during his stay he felt he got to know the area even better and became even more enchanted with the landscape. Lore’s sister referred them to a real estate agent, who promised to let them know right away when such a property became available.

Soon enough, land was available, and the Wagners worked with Town + Country Cedar Homes to design and build their home. While Lore says she has always loved the rustic charm of log and timber homes, she wanted her and John’s home to strongly reflect Old World European sensibilities rather than the more common lodge-style aesthetics usually associated with log homes.

The Wagners were particularly fond of the Tudor style, and Town + Country worked with them to imagine and bring to life a European cottage that combines Old World beauty with innovative design and building materials. The end result is a masterpiece that honors Old World craftsmanship and tradition, all held together with distinctly modern touches and techniques.

Town + Country worked with the Wagners to customize an existing building plan, pick materials, and site the property, which is located on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. The house’s exterior is a blend of White Cedar, white stucco and stone, and features a gabled entrance that looks like it could belong to a Bavarian cottage.

Inside, Town + Country worked very closely with Lore, who had brought in dozens of samples, to create a comfortable yet subtly majestic interior that makes fantastic use of contrast and deftly combines ages-old techniques with modern methods to create all of the charm of Old Europe with all of the durability and advantages of contemporary innovations.

The great room shows off the house’s signature feature: European-style hammerbeam trusses rise up, holding up the ceiling, which is further punctuated with purlins that accent the expansiveness of the space. Stained Douglas Fir contrasts with sharp white walls and lighter shades of wood, adding interest and depth to the room.

Throughout the house, features such as custom tongue-and-groove work and cultured stone mix with stucco and wood, and Lore’s flair for contrast is seen throughout, especially in the master bedroom. While the front of the house is distinctly European, the back entrance features more lodge-style design.

Working with Town + Country, the Wagners found a partner undaunted by the design challenges of creating an Old World European chalet using modern building materials, and they couldn’t be happier.

Take a tour through the Wagner’s home to for a closer look.