The Cottonwood Barn, Once a Wedding Venue, Becomes a Single-Family Home in Dexter
GUTS TO GLORY TOUR: NOVEMBER 4TH 1-5PM
Bring a non-perishable food donation to the event, and we’ll send you home with some awesome Forward swag - and some serious kudos !
There are a lot of great reasons to move into the Cottonwood Barn. It’s a rustic, family-friendly dream home! Or it will be. The most compelling reasons for this family of seven were a top-notch school system, close family nearby, and lots of room to play and grow.
As with many families considering a remodel, however, the family was concerned about how - and where - they’d live while this huge project was underway. Some choose to rent- or stay with family. Our clients settled on an adventurous route; they’ve found a way to fit their family of seven (and a puppy) in the 1,200 square foot farmhouse on the property.
The initial layout and design direction was guided by Project Designer Miranda Frye, assisted by Ashley Howard. As Miranda transitioned into maternity leave, Ashley teamed up with Ann-Marie Clark to bring the project to life as its Project Designers.
“Our clients came to us with a few ideas on how to arrange the kids’ bedrooms. However, after giving alternative layout ideas they saw the benefit of having their designer and builders under one roof,” said Frye. “We were able to see that it made far more sense to swap the bedroom with a laundry room; that way, we saved the trouble (and cost) of moving duct work to add an egress window.” Early discussions were also concerned with the township’s approval, and about bringing the commercially coded barn up to residential code.
When it came to design, our clients were serious about maintaining the barn feel of the home. They didn’t want it to feel as if they’d plopped a big, modern home inside of the barn shell - or ruin the integrity of the historic building. Instead, our designers worked within the existing footprint to incorporate modern amenities into the existing beauty of the barn.
VISUALIZING THE FINISHED PROJECT
No matter how many times we review floor plans and tile samples, sometimes we need a little help imagining the space! That’s why Project Designer Ashley Howard has worked so hard to build plans, textures, fixtures and finishes into these renderings of our clients’ future space. If you want to get a little closer, each photo will expand when you click on it. Even closer? We’ll have a 3D model of the space available at our Guts to Glory tour!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COTTONWOOD BARN
The 7,950 sq. ft. Cottonwood Barn - a sort of landmark in the “Webster Corners” historical center of Webster Township - has had quite a life.
A Dairy Barn
Built on land owned by settlers from the Finger Lakes region of New York, the barn (not yet The Cottonwood) served as a dairy barn and horse stable. The Williams family owned a square mile of land and operated the farm for several generations, but unfortunately lost the property during the Great Depression.
A Summer Camp
Its next life was as a summer camp, Cottonwood Farm, which was owned and operated by Walter and ‘Aunt May’ Mast for over 25 years. Various buildings on the property, including the barn, served as many as 60 youngsters at a time from Detroit and all over Michigan who wanted a slice of farm life. It served primarily as a girls’ equestrian camp, though for a short time a boys’ camp dubbed “Wagon Wheel” was offered. May Mast was a community leader and took care of the barn until her death in 1999.
A Wedding Venue
In July 2012, Dan and Laura Waitz became interested in how they might restore and utilize the barn; over the next year, they spent upwards of a half million dollars on the renovation and put the barn to use as a wedding and event venue. It was recognized as Barn of the Year 2014 by the MI Barn Preservation Network. Soon after the Waitzes began holding events, however, neighbors began to file noise complaints; Webster Township and three neighboring families filed a lawsuit against the Waitzes. Ultimately, they were forced to put the barn on the market. This part of the Cottonwood’s history has been followed over the years by reporters at the Ann Arbor News; read more here.
A Home Sweet Home
A large family with roots in this area had always dreamt of living in a barn. Their story begins here.
IN THE NEWS!
SETTING THE STAGE FOR A BIG BARN CONVERSION
Most of the second level’s flooring will be preserved, so it’s been covered with both OSB and builder board. Our crew will be able to drive a lift on the floor without disturbing anything underneath!
The scale of this project means that most deliveries will require large trucks and cranes. It’s been fun for the family’s young kids to behold, but also quite a job to coordinate all of these moving parts - which is why we’re glad to have Project Manager Rob Walker on the job. One quality that makes Rob well-suited for this job is his ability to coordinate the dozens of moving parts on site without losing his cool!
MEET THE TEAM
Demolition of this space was more minimal than most, as we were working with a barn - not as many rooms full of drywall, old finishes, or fixtures to remove. One big job was removing the shingles - which we did with the help of Neighborhood Roofing. This roof will get well insulated from the outside, a choice we made in order to preserve the barn look on the interior ceiling. For interior demolition and disposal throughout the course of the project, a chute was built and conveniently placed to help with the ease of removing material.
HERE’S THE PLAN:
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Client Remodeling Goals
Our clients made the big move back to southeast Michigan earlier this year; proximity to family and an excellent school system made it a no-brainer for this family of seven (puppy Rosie makes eight!). Creative people and avid travelers, our clients were searching for something different in a home; the Cottonwood Barn - once a working barn, then a wedding venue - seemed to fit the bill when it came up for sale.
One great design challenge for our designers was space planning; as a wedding venue, a single enormous great room on the main level made sense. For use as a family home, however, we had to break up the space so that it could serve several unique functions - cooking, dining, living, playing!
Our Design Solutions
Throughout the home, we will use a combination of rustic barn finishes while also adding drywall to the new walls, making it feel like a true home. From the barn’s event space days, we’ve kept the chandeliers throughout - including a showstopper in the great room - and reclaimed wood ceilings on the first floor. The roof we’ll insulate from the outside to preserve the barn’s unique ceiling inside.
In the great room, existing support brackets function well to define the different spaces - or zones - in the large room, like the family command center on one side and kitchen on the other. Our designers have put together a combination of cable lighting, track lighting, sconces and decorative fixtures to make sure each area of the home is balanced and well-lit when needed.
On the lower level, we’ve created something of a “kid zone,” including four bedrooms for their kids and a big family room. Here, a feature built for the event space - separate mens’ and womens’ bathrooms - make total sense to keep - we only needed to add showers!
Our clients’ travels inspired some of the more colorful finishes in this home. You’ll see this influence in the gorgeous hand painted tiles in the kitchen, grand stacked stone fireplace, and glamorous master suite: double doors, beaded light fixture, tile accent wall, and home sauna.