The LaRose Wellness Retreat has been a wonderful project to be a part of, and my experiences with Cheryl LaRose, the aunt of my fiancé Christopher LaRose, have been just awesome. When Cheryl asked me to help her with her home and this Bed & Breakfast (minus the Breakfast) project, I was so excited. Of course I’ll help! We started brainstorming immediately. She had only a few short months before it would become critical for the rooms to be ready for guests to stay in. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a beautiful place to visit in the summer. Having migrated from Oakland County in the Lower Peninsula, I can speak from experience. A week-long family vacation to a summer home in the UP can be an amazing, fun adventure for children, a much-needed breath of fresh air for parents, and an incredible experience for families and couples. And here’s Cheryl with this perfect spot, this dream home on Lake Superior, complete with a hot tub, sauna, fireplace, five bedrooms, outdoor pool, deck, enormous yard, and direct access to the cool, fresh water of Lake Superior. Simply amazing.
Cheryl and I started brainstorming immediately, sharing thoughts and forming a plan. We made a Pinterest board called “B+B-B” where she and I could share ideas and images. Some of the ideas weren’t used, but many of them were, and still some of them may be used in the future. This was a great way to communicate our ideas and share cool pictures we had seen. She wanted her place to be inspired by Scandinavian design without seeming cold and uninviting. In the end, the influence is there, and the rooms are all warm and cozy, but still simple and clean. Four of the guest rooms have Finnish names: Kangas, Niemi, Kymi and Joki. The fifth guest room is named Red Rock, after the beautiful cliffs on Cheryl’s property overlooking the lake. There is a sixth room on the first floor with massage tables and the added option of a queen-sized air mattress, called Lily.
Some of the rooms had wallpaper and all of them had carpet. Cheryl wanted to keep the carpeting in Kangas and Red Rock, perhaps to be changed some day. We found the perfect laminate wood flooring at Menard’s on sale, and Cheryl’s friend Bob did a beautiful job installing it. It’s unbelievable how much collaboration went into this project. What a person can do with a modest budget, a big heart, and plenty of friends, is simply astounding. Bob has ended up installing Cheryl’s flooring, installing her new light fixture in the entryway (which we found at Lowe’s and Cheryl just loves), and working on the hot tub and countless other handy-man jobs. Other friends and family helped take down wallpaper (thank God I somehow got out of that one), clean and fill the pool, and help paint. Jim Lohmann is even carving a wood sign to post at the end of the driveway. Meanwhile, Chris designed and built the website for the LaRose Wellness Retreat and I edited content. This has truly been a group effort.
I accompanied Cheryl on shopping trips to so many stores, we lost count. We found beautiful plants for the hot tub room, artwork for the bedrooms, accessories, and furniture. Our biggest adventure was a road trip downstate, 9 hours just to get from point A to point B. Conveniently, we were able to make a trip to Ikea in Canton the same weekend as my cousin’s wedding reception in Royal Oak. We made a whole day of it, also accompanied by my mother Kathleen and Cheryl’s cousin Tina. The four of us were like kids in a candy store. So taken aback by the displays on the second floor, we hardly gave ourselves enough time to get down to business on the first floor. While at Ikea, not only were we able to find furniture, accessories and artwork, but we were also able to buy everything we needed for the window treatments in all five bedrooms. We had originally thought of doing roman shades, but once Cheryl saw their panel curtains and rail systems, it was all over. Once we were back in the UP and all the proper walls were painted, I installed the panel curtains. It’s amazing what a difference new window treatments can make!
The UP is not really the place to go if you want to go shopping, so quite a bit of Cheryl’s purchases for her home were done online. I was able to help Cheryl with this sometimes confusing process. There were countless emails, phone calls, and text messages exchanged to be assured that the right decisions were being made. In trying to stick with Scandinavian design, we were able to use a lot of things that Cheryl already had in her home. For what she did have to buy, she was able to stay within a modest budget.
The LaRose Wellness Retreat is definitely a destination worth seeking. I learned a lot throughout this project, but a lot of what I already knew definitely found application here. Measure twice, cut once. Sometimes plants on clearance just need a little TLC. And $200 for something you can do on your own for $10 is not a good deal. For more information and images of the LaRose Wellness Retreat, see my portfolio page.