A thoughtful renovation finds the sweet spot between architectural heritage and modern-day convenience.
Ben and Jenna Sietsema’s newly purchased 1921 Dutch Colonial had a lot going for it— especially if you didn’t venture inside. Located on a channel between two lakes and backing up to 12 acres of wooded park, the house with its barnlike gambrel roof and flared eaves turned heads in an East Grand Rapids, Michigan, neighborhood of traditionalstyle homes. “The lines of the home were just terrific, so the goal was to keep the exterior as close to the original as possible while updating the interiors,” says interior designer Jean Stoffer, who teamed with architect Jeff Visser on the project.The directives: Play up the farmhouse feel in a light-filled, modern way and connect the interiors with their nature-rich surrounds. New shutters, copper gutters, asphalt shingles, and a front porch honor the architecture’s roots, while a fresh coat of black paint on the rebuilt sunroom and window muntins provides a subtle modern twist. Determined to minimize additions, Visser bumped out the garage to add a large mudroom, then reconfigured space (including a large 1990s addition) to improve flow. Updating the back exterior with three sets of French doors, a screen porch, and an outdoor kitchen achieved the couple’s desire to better engage the house with the land. Inside, Stoffer balanced requests for welcoming, kid-friendly spaces with Jenna’s modern preferences and Ben’s rustic bent. Reclaimed beams kick-started the design, bringing a warmth that made Ben and Jenna feel at home. Engineered European white-oak floors, worryfree quartz countertops, and fingerprint-disguising navy kitchen cabinetry bolster a stylish yet carefree mood. Throughout the home, design dances between classic and modern. Inset flat-panel kitchen cabinetry, wall moldings, and a limestone fireplace keep one foot in the past; a stunning waterfall countertop, a mix of dazzling light fixtures, and a palette of charcoals, blues, and greens move to a more contemporary beat. “What we really enjoy about the house is that it’s sophisticated in some ways, yet at the end of the day it is warm and practical—not pretentious,” Ben says.