Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: Charlevoix Thatched Roof Home

The very first so-called mushroom home that Earl Young built in Charlevoix is being re-built with a special thatch roof.

We’ve been showing you the progress on the project, and now that it’s nearly complete, chief photojournalist Corey Adkins takes us back for Sightseeing in Northern Michigan.

“Why have I done this? It’s a very good question.”

Michael Seitz gets asked all the time: Why work so hard to transform an old Earl Young home that was in disrepair into this? A storybook home with a dramatic thatched roof.

“I tend to be a bit of a romantic guy, and I have these visions, and I think practically minded as well. I have the curse of having a vision and knowing I can build it. And I’ll push it through to the end,” says Michael.

The end is near on this project. The surprisingly durable, rolling roof made of reeds is getting the finishing touches.

“We’re at the last stages, the last week of work. So the trimming, the cleaning up is taking place,” explains Michael.

Roof thatcher Collin McGhee adds, “Dressing the roof is, after you finish the roof you go over the whole thing, get it smoothed out, make it all perfect.”

Even those whose job is to create thatched roofs are amazed by how this one turned out.

“This is the nicest roof I’ve done. It’s incredible. They’re usually pretty straight and boring. This is what thatch should be used on. Love it,” Collin.

Thatch worker Luke Robinson says, “I was just speechless. Never seen anything like this. The structure of it and the swooping, eave lines, and all the features like no other I’ve ever worked on. It was good.”

You know a homeowner who wants a roof like this on the outside is going to do spectacular things inside.

You’ll see the roof through every window.

And then there’s the heavy, solid pine doors throughout the house.

“Custom sized, custom built. It’s rough timber framing, so if you look, every door is a different size. As it would have been if it’d been built 100 years outside of a factory. That’s part of the feel we’re trying to create here. That it’s old, handmade, cool,” says Michael.

To make stairway woodwork look old, it isn’t stain. It’s actually dirt.

“So we started playing around with commercial stains. Although they were looking good, they didn’t have that old, old feel so we started thinking about dirt, and rubbing dirt,” explains Michael. “So we scoop up the dirt, rub it on, and cover it in a wax. When the wax dries, you’ve got this awesome 100 year old look.”

From the spiral stairway that looks like nature built it, to a cozy romantic sleeping area, to the shower with the original rock wall will remind you you’re in an Earl Young home.

This is the project of a lifetime for everyone who worked to make it happen.

“It’s been challenging, but it’s been fun. It’s not every day you get a project like this. So that’s been an inspiration. And the homeowner’s been great. His enthusiasm has really brought things into it,” says Jake.

Michael adds, “It’s been thematic of this construction to really allow imaginations to float a little bit, and try things.”

Just look for the house that looks like it’s part of a dream, with a thatched roof.

“It’s fantastic, and we’ve had so much interest. Folks stop by. It’s been an amazing project just because people have enjoyed the change. They’re interested in what thatch is, how long it will last, will it catch fire? All of the usual questions. It’s tremendous. It’s been an experience just in trying things, and people kind of noticing,” says Michael.

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus