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Harbert Cottage

Searl Lamaster Howe Architects

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  • Greg Howe

Project Status



1,590 sq. feet


Design Awards

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Project Description

The property has been in the possession of the owner since 1974 and he has a strong sentimental attachment to the house. Although its roof was caving in and its slab was slowly sinking, the size and general layout of the house worked; approaching this project as a tabula rasa was not an option. That said, there was a lot of work to do; sitting on Cherry Beach Road, the house's dilapidated condition led to its moniker, The Cherry Pit. The project became an opportunity to reengineer and reinvigorate the classic American ranch house. The design of the renovation was shaped by principles of simplicity, ease, durability, and environmental responsiveness. The house’s detailing is a reflection of the modest cottage vernacular of the region; the crisp white stucco and bold red windows of the original construction were retained but detailed with an updated sensibility. The visual interest of the structure comes from revealing rather than concealing the building's construction. Instead of complicated and expensive welds, simple exposed bolts and screws characterize the metal staircase and catwalk. The kitchen cabinetry was kept as basic as possible but its design is elevated with the addition of simple but distinct details. The plan of the house was refined to reflect a contemporary lifestyle; the kitchen was moved to a central position and the entry to the house was shifted to the side, allowing the full front yard to serve as a landscaped buffer. Sitting a block from Lake Michigan in a highly social community, the large screened porch serves as the living and dining space in warm months. Too often the physical and emotional value of existing structures are overlooked in renovations. By retaining the spirit of the original structure and all the memories it held, this renovated house respects its past but also steps confidently into the future.
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