Many families in Michigan share a tradition of spending weekends and vacations in cottages adjacent to the state’s collection of lakes. Higgins Lake is considered one of the most spectacular of the inland lakes and the empty-nester’s who commissioned this cottage wanted to be able to share this resource with their large family and many friends. In order to do so, they requested a large gathering area for cooking, eating and relaxing and space to sleep twenty adults.

Given the relatively large size of the cottage compared to the neighboring houses, the central challenge of this project is fitting a large building onto a narrow site without overwhelming the neighbors, but still taking advantage of the views. Our solution locates the house in the center of the site and breaks the overall volume of the building down into four smaller volumes to better incorporate it into the surroundings. Additionally, this strategy brings substantial amounts of light and air into every room of the house while allowing for views out to the lake and surrounding forest.

The living quarters and master suite are located above grade while the remaining bedrooms are partially buried to further diminish the apparent size of the house. The living quarters have a large expanse of glass facing the lake and additional glazing along the south side of the house to take advantage of passive heating in the winter. A large deck on the lake side of the house provides views while extending living space in the warmer months.

Winner of the 2012 Detroit Home Design Award for Best Contemporary Home
Photos by Jeff Garland Photography

Jeff Jordan Architects uploaded Higgins Lake House through Add A Home.
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South side of house looking toward lake

West side of house at sunset

Living room looking out toward lake

South side facade at dusk

South side with concrete stepped retaining walls

Full south side facade with cedar clad garage door

Corner detail between sleeping "bar" and living "pavilion"

Southwest corner showing relationship between wrap around deck and interior

Cedar rain screen and metal guardrail at light well

Entry courtyard with tree

Southwest corner looking back toward house

Outdoor shower with cedar clad door to blend with siding

Continuous wood riser/ tread detail

Kitchen with exposed beams and oak ceiling

South facade

Southwest corner with stepped landscaping

Rear courtyard with tree and basement bedroom windows

Living room looking toward lake

Structural detail showing post to column connection and custom bracket

View from basement bedroom into courtyard

  • RL Zuzula Builders
  • Jeff Garland Photography


  • 6
  • Full Baths
  • 4
  • Partial Baths
  • 1
  • Structure
  • House (Single Residence)
  • Style
  • Modern
  • Year
  • 2012
  • Square Feet
  • 4800