Gray Malin’s Airy Michigan Lake House Is a Whimsical Dream

The photographer's coastal-inspired lake house has us dreaming about, well ... vacationing in his vacation home! Let's take a tour.

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September 19, 2019

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

Photo By: HOWDY © Gray Malin

The House

Step inside photographer Gray Malin’s vacation home and you’ll think you’re somewhere on the west coast. The beachy blue hues and airy ambiance ooze coastal charm, but not in a kitschy way — designer Kate Lester made sure of that.

Plot twist: You’re actually in a house nestled beside Lake Michigan. And if you look closely, you’ll start to see the woven carpets and vintage accessories that make this coastal-inspired space personal, casual and homey — an escape from Gray and his family's more formal, actual west coast home in Los Angeles. Kate focused on texture, color and sophistication, but also livability and durability. Gray and his husband Jeff have young twins and wanted to use the house as a gathering space for family and friends; keeping it functional was key.

So, an escape the house truly is. It features an open floor plan, a porch facing the lake and designs that reflect Gray and Jeff’s interests and personalities. And of course, Gray’s coastal-cool photography — displayed throughout the house — pulls it all together.

Entryway

This bright spot in the house overlooks the community tennis courts, so the whimsical image from Gray’s Bermuda series fits the mood perfectly. Ottomans from Lee Industries add an extra layer of texture — plus, the yellow stripes are totally mood-lifting. Guest hack: The ottomans can be moved all over the home for extra seating during large gatherings.

Kitchen

“Since the kitchen opens up to the rest of the living area, it needed to feel less kitchen-ey and more sophisticated,” Kate tells HGTV.com. Mounted oak shelves let the whole room breathe while giving the decorative art and view of the landscape outside space to shine. Lower cabinets provide extra storage for dishes and other items.

Dining Room

An open floor plan in the dining and living area as well as a bright color palette — Kate used Wimborne White by Farrow and Ball on most of the walls — create an airy main floor. Amid all the light hues, Kate incorporated a bold design choice: black dining chairs. Her pro tip: When designing with light color palettes, try adding a little bit of black to offset and ground competing colors.

Living Room

Gray’s living room embodies a casual yet clean aesthetic — an oxymoron achieved by incorporating pieces that “play double-duty,” Kate explains. The focal point of the room, custom-sized Gray Malin photography hanging over the fireplace, is actually hiding a recessed TV. And the light blue oversized ottoman? It’s by Kate Lester Home and comes with a removable waterfall table that can be used for games and drinks when needed.

Living Room Shelves

Let’s talk about the mini oak drawers Kate and her team designed for the built-in living room bookshelves. “They each have their own pull but are actually two larger drawers for added functionality,” Kate says.

The other accessories on the shelves were curated early on in the design phase and reflect Gray and Jeff’s interests.

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Sunroom

Pale green walls (Cromarty by Farrow and Ball) — a last minute decision by Kate and Gray — create a peaceful atmosphere in this glowing sunroom. “[Cromarty] enhances the color of the foliage outside, wraps the room in a soft glow and creates a true sunroom feel,” says Kate.

Modular stools and coffee tables make entertaining easier, and the custom sofas by Kate Lester Home are covered in an outdoor fabric for durability.

Mudroom

Wicker baskets and shiplap walls keep the mudroom casual, while Gray’s art adds a subtle touch of sophistication. Supercool, custom-made barn doors let extra light into the smaller space and, because they’re sliding, don’t encroach on the walkway.

Master Bedroom

Bright shiplap, shades of blue and textural elements (look at that navy blue headboard) bring the cool in Gray and Jeff's room.

Master Bedroom

The best part of the master bedroom? Hands down the chandelier — which, paired with all the brass accents, adds a glam layer of formality to the space.

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Master Bathroom

Brass accents make this whole space shine. In fact, Kate admits that while she doesn’t usually “go all-in with brass,” the master bath is one of her favorite rooms in the house. Suspended AllModern mirrors layer perfectly with Circa sconces. The hardware is Emtek.

Guest Bedroom

Enter Gray’s favorite room in the house: a fresh guest bedroom home to three twin beds and doused in Gray’s signature color palette, gray and navy.

“It has a wonderful cottage feel,” Gray tells HGTV.com “The three twin beds are quirky and welcoming while the fun colors of the artwork make it feel light-hearted.”

Serena and Lily wallpaper and artwork from Gray’s Coral Casino series add a whimsical touch.

Guest Bathroom

“Since this [is] the guest bath — shared by all of the downstairs rooms — it was important that multiple people could use the space without any privacy issues,” explains Kate. The oversized shower has enough room for guests to change in, while the stunning porcelain tile (from Bedrosians Tile and Stone) is easy to clean and strong enough to withstand high foot traffic — the perfect combination.

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Nursery

The twins’ nursery radiates warmth. The Farrow and Ball wallpaper and AllModern cribs create a luxe yet livable atmosphere. Kate designed this adorable space — and the entire home — to grow with Gray, Jeff and their twins.