Amy and Joe McIntosh, who live near Chicago during the week, had been searching for a vacation house for three years, visiting more than 100 properties in Michigan's Harbor Country region before settling on a particular Cape Cod-style cottage in Buchanan, Michigan.
In this photo: Amy relaxes on her front porch swing, left by the previous owners of her 3,000-square-foot home.
In little more than six months, the McIntoshes didn't merely transform a house. "The process helped us learn about who we are," Amy explains. "We're a relaxed bunch, and we wanted guests to plop down anywhere without worry."
The makeover taught the McIntoshes how, sometimes, it's the quirks that make a home—and a family—truly special.
In this photo: The couple the exterior of the home lightened up, with 's Grant Beige.
Had it been left up to the couple's son—Jack, 8, and Sam, 7—their new home would have stayed exactly the way it was the day they closed on the place. Never mind the dated linoleum and dreary dark wood; the boys loved that when they spilled soda on the green wall-to-wall carpeting, their mom didn't make them clean it up.
The big change in the combined living and dining area—which sports 's Natural Wicker on the walls—came from installing black-stained oak floors.
In this photo: Jack and Sam (from left, with Joe, Amy, and wheaten terrier Duke) love that the table once stood in a firehouse.
Alas, the family also inherited some perplexing design choices. The home's previous owner, an arborist, had incorporated a vertical beam that looks like a tree growing through the kitchen floor. Amy's first inclination? Remove it; but, turns out, the piece is structural.
Amy decided instead to paint the tree—and quickly discovered that a coat of clean, fresh white possesses the power to unify disparate materials: stone, brick, even those odd tree branches. "I hesitated at first, thinking the wood beams would look too fake," Amy admits. "But that wasn't the case. The contrast between nature and modern white makes it all the more interesting."
In this photo: Amy removed most of the kitchen's upper cabinets, then painted the remaining units— new beadboard and that "tree"—with 's White Dove. She also added granite countertops, slate floors, and a stove. tiles provide a graphic backsplash.
Bright idea: Porch balusters (top right) make for wall art with architectural appeal.
A vintage bar cart takes up less room than a sideboard. The tapestry is from .
With the help of interior designer , the McIntoshes added in carefully chosen details that fit with their new white backdrop.
Amy painted the living area's stone fireplace—including its wood shelf—with 's White Dove. An ikat-print sofa purchased at , coffee table from , and an antique mirror decorate the space.
Joe added this farmhouse sink in the mudroom as a housewarming gift to his wife.
Bright idea: Ornate brackets turn reclaimed lumber into a stylish shelf.
A woven-frame mirror from pairs with a midcentury dresser in the master bedroom, which opens onto a screened-in porch. Amy found the white armchair at a garage sale for just $20.
The McIntoshes overhauled the master bath by ripping out its heavy, dark vanity.
Freestanding sinks, mirrors from , light fixtures, and a hexagonal-tile floor further refine the space, painted in 's Ballet White.
This article originally appeared on .