Tiny but mighty

  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty
  • Tiny but mighty

If there is a tiny house lottery, Gail DeMeyere of Charlevoix might be the newest winner.

The director of the Charlevoix Circle of the Arts, DeMeyere recently moved to a tiny and historic home in a Charlevoix neighborhood more commonly known for some of the city’s largest houses.

The tiny house on Auld Street is as notable, however, as any of the larger dwellings of her neighbors. 

“It’s like a fairy tale house,” DeMeyere laughs, sweeping her hand to show off the 400 square foot main floor. 

The home is a replica of The Apple Tree, the building that once housed famed Charlevoix builder Earl Young’s office, known for his much larger but no more whimsical “mushroom” stone homes, mainly situated along the Lake Michigan shoreline west of downtown. DeMeyere’s tiny house is a recreation of what once stood as Young’s office in downtown Charlevoix, but when it was slated for demolition in 2003, Anne and Stephen Roby agreed to move parts of the local treasure to a lot adjacent to their home on Auld Street.

The original stone that did make the move included Earl Young’s original large fireplace on the main floor. Since the move of key pieces and the reconstruction, the tiny home passed through other owners after the Robys, until earlier this year when DeMeyere says she was driving by and noticed the “for sale” sign.

“I was looking for a small house,” DeMeyere explains, adding she was set to buy a piece of property to build, when she passed by the Auld Street house.

“There were already two bids,” she learned when she called the Realtor. She made an offer anyway.

“It was Friday the 13th, and I drove by and saw a big black cat by the front door,” she laughs. “I realized it’s a double negative. I’m going to get the house,” she says she told herself soon before the Realtor called to tell her the house was hers. “How’d I ever get so lucky,” she wonders still. The house stayed on the market for only five days. 

The Roby house next door was known as The Cozy Bear, and when the Young building was reconstructed on their property, they started to call it The Cozy Cub, adding some bruin motifs throughout, such as a wall mounted light fixture just inside the front door. DeMeyere plans to return to Young’s original Apple Tree theme, but regardless of theme, the attention to detail is impressive.

“It’s really inspired by the vision of Earl Young,” she says.

Hand-hewn Amish hickory floors and cherry window trim and blinds provide a warm atmosphere throughout both the main floor and the lower level as well. Design features like a smaller than usual refrigerator and small stove make the kitchen fully functional, if compact. Walls throughout the home are painted a soothing olive green with oak leaf details on the main floor.

Furnished with custom pieces of hickory-accented furniture from Old Hickory Furniture Company of Indiana, the home’s interior gives off a country cottage feel, even as it is within easy walking distance of downtown to the south. 

The lower level, down a winding staircase with an hickory banister, is a comfortably large master bedroom, with closet spaces thoughtfully designed for maximum storage. There is also access to the outdoor back patio from the bedroom.

“Every teeny tiny space was used to perfection,” she explains. 

The tiny house is warm and inviting, not only because of the rich wood features and custom stonework, but because DeMeyere is a careful art collector.

“It’s almost like having a house I can curate,” she says, pointing out the many different artists represented on her walls.

There is multi-media art from Kelly Snively, paintings by Betty Beeby and others, even a hand-carved walking stick by the late Mackinac Island carver Don “The Duck” Andress.

“This is what I feel is some of the best Northern Michigan art,” DeMeyere says, indicating the many paintings and other pieces, including a beaver-chew lamp base by Len Fieber, an artist based in the U.P.

Outside, the building’s asymmetrical roofline, cedar-shake shingles and stone exterior add to the home’s appeal. Myrtle instead of grass means lower yard maintenance, while a willow tree near the street and a Metasequoia tree near the driveway provide shade as well as color.

DeMeyere says she has some ideas for minor changes, but adds, “I want to settle in before I make any changes.”  

And while the faster pace of work and other demands is still there, she believes the home’s soothing qualities are just the tonic for a perfect counterpoint.

“It’s become my sanctuary,” DeMeyere says, “the place where I can come back to center.”

The mother of two grown daughters appreciates her new home’s lineage, something she intends to both honor and perpetuate.

“It’s something I can give my girls,” she says.

For now, DeMeyere is looking forward to her first winter on Auld Street.

“I’m going to be able to create something pretty cool here in the wee hours of the night,” she says with a big smile.

Written By Glen Young, Photos by G. Randall Goss