The renovations to the building and home of Great Lakes Custom Builder’s office and showrooms in Troy, Michigan, were extensive. The original building was built in the 1950s and had never been updated. Our renovation project required gutting and redesigning the interior and extensive work on the exterior.

Photos: Sara Demick

Made of walnut and natural quartzite, the radius receptionist desk echoes the office’s circular footprint. Photos: Sara Demick

The first objective was to redesign the front façade so that it had a new and distinctive look. To achieve this, we added structural steel at the window openings, which enabled having larger windows that project out on an angle to add interest to the front elevation and allow tons of daylight into the showroom. A new entrance tower with a vestibule entry was also added. New exterior features include a metal roof, new brick, decorative steel elements, new landscaping, landscape lighting, a paver walk, new drive and parking lot, and a flag pole bearing a huge American flag.

The entire interior was gutted and renovated. The office floor plan has a circular footprint, enabling clients and guests to take a strolling tour of the individual bathrooms, offices, breakroom and conference room, which are all working displays that showcase a variety of design styles and elements. Every room acts as a separate vignette or showroom to display products, craftsmanship and design elements. Transitional, contemporary, traditional and modern designs are all on display.

Most of the new floors are done in distressed white oak engineered wood, finished in a dark tongue oil stain. The custom radius

Photo: Sara Demick

Two working kitchen displays incorporate an array of products and styles. Photo: Sara Demick

receptionist desk was built on-site using walnut and natural quartzite. Interior doors are stained alder wood with bronze handles by Emtek. The front showroom features two working kitchen displays, including a Wolf range; two working vanity displays; and a working serving bar with wet sink. Wood Mode, Medallion and Bertch cabinets are featured along with Rohl faucets, a Kohler farm sink, Delta bath faucets and cabinet hardware by Rocky Mountain Hardware.

Having multiple styles and numerous product lines on display did create some continuity challenges for our Lead Designer Lori Albrecht.

She has tastefully given each room its own identity yet maintained an overall continuity. The well-thought-out designs and selections allow visitors to see live displays with a vast array of products and styles. For example, the conference room offers organic finishes—floor-to-ceiling concrete tiled walls, a custom water feature with soapstone surround, and floor-to-ceiling walnut paneling. The conference table

Continuing down the hall are offices and restrooms. The men’s restroom offers traditional, contemporary and modern elements of design. This was achieved using traditional custom cherry stall partitions built and stained on-site, modern subway wall tiles by Ann Sacks, a stone trough sink and industrial barn lights. Contemporary plumbing fixtures by Danze and Toto and wood-grain porcelain floor tile also complement the overall eclectic scheme. The ladies’ room, on the other hand, features more elegant design. Finishes include a chandelier by Visual Comfort, textured silk and jute wallpaper by Stark, a feature wall with floor-to-ceiling mosaic tile, a wall-mount faucet by Newport Brass, an onyx sink and floor tile by Ann Sacks.

Photo: Sara Demick

Depth and height changes in the entertainment room accommodate an indoor golf simulator. Photo: Sara Demick

The largest of the executive offices is a striking and handsome office suite with a serving bar and full bathroom. Finishes include matching walnut desks and built-ins built on-site, a service bar with matching walnut cabinets and a marble top, walls paneled in walnut and dark gray carpet. The bathroom features a wall of herringbone tile by Ann Sacks, a shower, Hudson Valley sconces, Hansgrohe fixtures, Rocky Mountain Hardware, walnut cabinets and marble tops.

We enjoy ending the tour with the entertainment room, which is sure to impress on a grand scale. Features include 14-foot ceilings with stained cherry wood beams, floor-to-ceiling custom cherry paneling, a full wet bar with Bertch custom cabinetry, Sub-Zero appliances, natural quartzite countertops, a stainless steel tile backsplash by Ann Sacks, and lighting fixtures by Hudson Valley and Restoration Hardware. An impressive natural stone archway leads into a golf simulator room complete with field turf and a 17- by 11-foot projection screen, making this the ultimate entertainment room.

Incorporating each space to showcase a Great Lakes Custom Builder design that generates interest and a comfortable environment was the goal of the project. 

Franco (left), Albrecht (center) and company CEO/president James Wiese (right)

By Gregg Franco with contribution from Lori Albrecht. Gregg Franco is a graduate of Michigan State University with a B.S. in Business Construction Management. Franco holds a real estate license issued from the Michigan department of Business & Economic Growth, a Lead Abatement license and a Michigan builder’s license. He has over 19 years of experience in supervising construction and renovation projects.

Lori Albrecht is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a B.A. in Interior Design and concentration in Building Construction Management. A believer in continued construction education, Albrecht holds a residential builder’s license and is LEED certified. She has been a vital member within the design and construction management field for over 17 years. 

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