Holcomb Hills House in the Dunes

Text and Photographs by Pam VanderPloeg, copyright 2016.  West Michigan Modern

The Holcomb Hills House in the Dunes on the Lake Michigan shoreline with West Michigan Modern is a house you will never just happen to see this home from the road.  It is located in a subdivision just south of Robbins Road in Grand Haven at   Holcomb Hills Rd.  The house is perched on 1.8 acres high atop a vegetation-covered dune in a small neighborhood of custom homes that hug large scenic lots.  Homeowners in the development enjoy a shared Lake Michigan beach.  

Although the land was actually platted in 1928, this home was designed in the late 1960's by architect Phil Lundwall for his family and completed in 1972.  At over 3,500 square feet, the home takes full advantage of the natural elevations and provides four levels of living space including the walkout basement and loft plus a special bonus - a small square roof top deck complete with lightening rod. The home's exterior is vertical rough sawn cedar peppered with variety of glass openings, and it seems to soar upward from the site as though seeking a glimpse of the "big lake."

Jon and I visited this house late in 2014 and we revisited a few weeks ago to see the new projects recently completed.   As you drive up to the house, the entry is understated.  From the striking glass garage door, you walk up the brand new front steps installed and finished by Gene to the porch with a unique wood front door added by the current owners.  

From inside the foyer you can look all the way up the floating stairway to the skylight above the third floor loft.  

There is something extraordinary to look at in every corner of this house.   A modernist tone is set in the foyer by the Calder-red paint on the interior front door and the mobile suspended over the original polished parquet floors and Nelson bench. 

The epicenter of the house is a two-story living room where natural light floods the space from large windows calling attention to the beamed tongue and groove ceiling.  Various size square and rectangular wall openings providing views into the second floor. 

A new 2-story dry-stacked stone fireplace is complemented by the owners' extensive collection of authentic modern furniture including pieces by Vladimir Kagan and Adrian Pearsall.   Joyce had her collections in a shop in a Chicago antique mall that rents out furniture and accessories for use in movie and TV productions, for example on the set of"Chicago Fire."

A broad opening leads from living room to the dining room filled with vintage Danish Modern including a Hans Wegner buffet (Wegner also designed furniture for the Danish king) and a Paul McCobb china cabinet filled with Red Wing dishes in the Smart Set pattern.

The furnishings are beautifully accentuated by an eclectic art collection ranging from metal wall art to vivid modern paintings.  Some of these pieces have stories.  One painting in the kitchen was rescued from a Chicago apartment building after Gene, owner of a generations-old plumbing firm maintaining plumbing systems in old high-rise buildings, discovered the painting hanging upside down and defaced.  

The dining room opens into the newish kitchen, an addition completed before Joyce and Gene bought the house. Bright white walls and white beamed ceilings and cupboards are a great contrast to the original 1/2 inch thick glowing solid oak parquet tiles.   Joyce loves the new window they added in the eating area.  It has an almost surreal view of the squirrels scaling the trees and raiding the bird feeders outside.   Sliding glass doors from the living room and dining areas lead to a number of outdoor decks with panoramic views of the natural landscaping.

The second floor bedrooms have great views and there is a brand new master bath with beautiful new tiled shower.  Exquisite Danish light fixtures complete the decor.    There is a convenient laundry room near the bedrooms.  The hall ends at a bookcase with a bookstore style ladder to take you to the third story loft with a skylight that opens to the small square rooftop deck.

The newly renovated walkout level features more of Jean's iconic collection including a great mid-century bar, shiny red cone fireplace and show-stopping red and yellow-gold doors.

Disclaimer:  West Michigan Modern is not involved in the sale of this house but is providing an opportunity for our readers to see a wonderful house on the lakeshore before it is sold to new owners.  And owners Joyce and Gene, will be on hand at the open house and some of the items in their wonderful home are available for sale.  

These former owners of a classic Prairie style home in the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly have poured themselves into restoring and renovating the property in the dunes.  They moved here full-time to Grand Haven in 2013 and have made a big investment in the infrastructure of the home, replacing windows, putting on a new roof and replacing damaged siding and addressing the structural repairs that had been deferred.  This home on the market and soon new owners will have the chance to put their mark on the Holcomb Hills House in the Dunes.