“At another time she asked, ‘What is a soul?’ No one knows, I replied, but we know it is not the body, and it is that part of us which thinks and loves and hopes ...”
These words of Annie Sullivan, in 1891, as she worked with Helen Keller, ring true at the Shuman home on Lake Street in Petoskey.
Sarah Shuman’s soul had an outreach: “I always wanted to live downtown with a big front porch,” she shared. “Our kids are the first ever to grow up here. In the past it’s always been ladies living here.”
Built in 1901, the home regales the emotions with its effervescence of the past. The footprint has changed little, and the charm of the porch remains.
“We’ve been here for over 12 years,” Sarah notes. “We moved in on Labor Day of 2005.”
When you walk into the home through the front porch, the living room offers a wonderful, warm hello. Sarah does all of the decorating herself and proclaims her proclivity for the resale shops.
“Much of what we have throughout the house is recovered, reclaimed, or an heirloom.”
Highlighting that mystique, the mismatched jewelry trees of orphaned pieces are now a year-round artistic touch.
“We used to put them out at Christmas, but they’ve become everyday favorites.”
Through the living room, one can find a TV room in a denim blue where suitcases act as end-tables, and off to the side a full bath.
To the rear is a dining room, a full first floor laundry at the base of an old back staircase, and finally a fully modern re-worked kitchen complete with a breakfast nook.
“We are a family that enjoys celebrating meals.”
And what a place to do so. While the rest of the first floor is a peaceful cavalcade of blue, turquoise and sea green, the kitchen’s dill pickle green is a lively color sparking a nuance of mood and emotion to produce any menu of epicurean delight.
McBride Construction handled all of the subcontractors and renovations that also included a new back entrance with shelves, hooks and coves for anything a family may need to keep stored for an all-season town such as Petoskey.
Upstairs, the master bedroom includes walk-in closets and an en suite bathroom. The children’s rooms are decorated with their favorite items, and son, Ben’s, sits within the turret of the home. Daughter, Amelia’s, favorite colors of sea green and aqua were also favorites of her great-great-grandmother.
Last but not least, the old attic space now offers respite to Sarah as her office. The roominess, yet cozy appeal, applies a cognitive dissonance, but is a true testimony to Sarah’s ability to make a room, and metaphorically, in the words of Annie Sullivan quoting Helen Keller, “‘But if I write what my soul thinks,’ she said, ‘then it will be visible, and the words will be its body.’”
Written By Tom Renkes, Photos by G. Randall Goss