The Douglas House by Richard Meier on Lake Michigan
Marcia Myers and Michael McCarthy were lucky enough to snag The Douglas House, designed by Richard Meier; for a reduced price because it needed a lot work; if only I’d been in the right place at the right time! The Douglas House on Lake Michigan is very similar in design to my city loft in Burlington, Vermont, only on a much grander scale, and with much grander views. It’s funny, they even have the exact same furniture as I do…as well as the same kitchen cabinets, same flooring, same curved walls, same decking and the same exterior metal stairs! The Douglas House is literally everything I want in a home, and then some, and is easily one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen; if not currently my favorite home in the country.
The Douglas House is 3,200 square feet and is set among trees on the steep side of a cliff overlooking an unbelievable turquoise lake and close to 1,000 feet of private beach. The house is accessed via a footbridge that leads to the house’s uppermost level.
Shortly after purchasing the home, architects began knocking on their door, requesting tours. “That’s when we realized that what we’d gotten was an American masterpiece,” says Marcia Myers. The Douglas House was conceived in 1960’s when Jim and Jean Douglas of Grand Rapids reached out to Richard Meier after seeing his 1967 Smith House on a magazine cover. “I wanted a Bauhaus sort of a house, very open,” Jim Douglas recalls. “We didn’t put any parameters on him because architects do their best work when they do it the way they want.” In the 1960s and 1970s, Le Corbusier was considered the world’s best architect, and Meier was clearly inspired by him when designing the Douglas House. The Douglas House is a clear nod to Les Terrasses, a 1928 residence created by Le Corbusier in Garches, France. Both homes have curved walls, spatial ambiguities, and a series of ladders and staircases that join the levels.
Michael and Marcia spent years rehabilitating the Douglas House. “It was obvious that the property had been on the market for years,” McCarthy says. There were dead bugs, a collapsing ceiling in the kitchen, foggy glass, and a sagging bridge. The steel windows were rusted and the floors had water damage. But the couple was undeterred. The couple repainted the redwood siding in its original “Meier White,” then added a steel support to the bridge. HVAC systems were replaced with energy-efficient equipment.
Forty years after its conception, the Douglas House has now been fully restored and is one of the most beautiful homes in the United States, and I can’t wait to see it in person. This article was inspired by and quoted from Dwell Magazine, and the photos are the property of Dwell. Someday I hope to take my own.