House and Grounds: A lakeside home with tropical influence

2014-02-18T14:28:00Z 2014-02-20T01:25:06Z House and Grounds: A lakeside home with tropical influenceJulie Dean Kessler
February 18, 2014 2:28 pm  • 

Key West influences, a flair for design and a splash of fun have made Alex and April Tompsidis’ Michigan City, Ind., beach home a welcome retreat.

Bought just over a year ago, it’s in the heart of the Beachwalk community, a winding cluster of homes across from Lake Michigan that are both owned and rented, all managed by Beachwalk Vacation Rentals (BVR). April explains they bought their home, but retain the unique advantage of being able to make it available to renters when they’re not enjoying it themselves, with BVR handling cleaning and maintenance after each rental.

But the 5-bedroom home is designed and decorated first and foremost for the Tompsidis family. “It’s a sophisticated cottage,” says April, who credits local builder Jody Snider with its pleasing architectural details. Two square supporting columns separate the foyer from the living room, yet eliminate the need for a wall there, contributing to the open design that flows from the entrance, through the great room and on to the kitchen and breakfast bar.

Those open spaces are left uncluttered. “I like clean lines. Life is so complicated; it’s nice to be in a place where there isn’t a lot of color and clutter. It leaves a place for your imagination, a place to read and think.” And to do the sewing and crocheting she enjoys.

Hardwood floors of oak throughout the home and on bannisters contribute to the clean lines.

April loves interior decorating: “It’s one of my passions,” and not surprisingly, she lends a light touch to the decor. “I love the Key West colors,” evident in the colorful pillows on the pale couch and chairs. Caribbean-inspired blue wooden shutters top the front porch windows.

While furniture is minimal and tchotchkes almost nonexistent, “I try to always have a small space within a space, so you always have that warmth.” A white-painted cabinet at one end of the living room holds her latest diorama. Beside the gas fireplace, a tall glass jar holds shells and other beach-y finds. A curved, white-painted coffee table has a frosted-glass topper, referencing the frosted beach glass at nearby Lake Michigan’s edge.

Can lights in ceilings throughout offer indirect lighting, but during the day natural light pours in from the many windows. Two double doors in the living room open onto to a large screened-in porch, and most rooms access a deck or porch.

April notes, “This is an intergenerational house. Downstairs, someone older can stay, because there’s a bedroom with a bath that has a walk-in shower rather than a tub.” The curved vanity there surprises, with its painting of bright sailboats.

“Then upstairs, there are the bunk beds for kids.”

Here, too, the lines are uncluttered. Blue-and-while toile covering the double set of bunk beds and two of April’s own paintings add touches of color. “There are two of my paintings in the living room, and I’m getting ready to find more art for the walls.”

Including each of the four bedrooms upstairs, “I like all the rooms to have a different feel.” In one, a bedspread evokes the look of India, while the door leading to a small deck has frosted glass with delicate, painted bamboo branches. “It gives you the feeling of something exotic. I want to do a painting for this room,” muses April.

Two of the bedrooms connect to a bath with pocket doors, and another space-saving pocket door closes off the commode and shower.

The master suite is notable for its coffered ceiling with small trays outlined in blue. Double doors lead to a deck where “There’s white wicker furniture; you can sit with a glass of wine and enjoy the view.”

Rather than access to bedrooms from a single, long hallway, rooms are angled from a large landing, where a spiral staircase leads up to a viewing room. The landing alone has three double windows, a windowed door, and two smaller windows, seeming in its height and light to resemble the studio where April creates her artwork.

Wainscoting of painted white bead board in a satin finish is throughout the home, but here on the landing it is, uncharacteristically and effectively, in a darker shade of blue, with pale yellow above.

Outside, bluestone pathways lead to the front door and in back to a planned guest house. For now, the 26-acre Lake Kar offers a pleasant view from the patio. Perennials—150 of them—are popping up with springtime.

And inside, April sounds content as she reflects, “All the rooms are places I’d like to be in. Isn’t that what a house is supposed to be?”

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