Living Room

The Cincinnati couple discovered the easygoing community of Northport, Michigan, in 2005, when they visited friends’ vacation home there. Within the year, the Schaefers bought two acres with a small house on the water. Protected by the bay from high waves, the property is one of the few in the area with a sandy beach, a sandy lake bottom, and a good stretch of shallow, wading-depth water. As a bonus, it’s next to the home of their friends, who offered to split the use of their dock, boats, and other water gear with the Schaefers.

“We said, ‘Perfect! We’ll take it!’ ” Betty recalls. For four summers, the Schaefers vacationed there, but the modern log cabin-style house was too small to accommodate more than one of their children’s families at a time.  The style of the house wasn’t exactly to Betty’s liking either, and she and George began planning a new Nantucket-inspired house, where all of their immediate family—eight adults and 10 children—could be together at one time.

The blue-and-white palette is updated with blasts of lime green on the rug designed by Jonathan Adler. White bullion fringe accents the ocean-blue sofa, while a Sister Parish floral fabric upholsters matching armchairs. 

Open Floor Plan

In another stroke of luck (maybe Raminentz really is magical), Betty’s friend and interior designer Elizabeth Schmidt owns a Lake Michigan vacation home just 15 minutes from the Schaefers’ place. Schmidt had decorated the Schaefers’ Cincinnati home and was in tune with Betty’s style preferences. “Betty and I both love bright colors and aren’t afraid to use them,” Schmidt says. The designer also knew the enchanting qualities of a lake home.

One of Betty’s must-haves was an open floor plan, with the kitchen, dining, and living areas open to one another. “She didn’t want anyone to be left out of the fun when the family was all together there,” Schmidt explains. 

Dining Room

The blues of the lake and Betty’s love of bright Lilly Pulitzer fabrics inspired the color scheme: Tiffany blue with white, pink, and yellow accents. “From the moment you walk in the front door, we wanted you to feel like you are on vacation—something light and airy that reminds you of the gorgeous water views,” Schmidt says.

The shell chandelier over the dining room table is a nod to the lake setting. Chairs are accented with pillows covered in a Lilly Pulitzer fabric for Lee Jofa. 


“We used many different shades of blue throughout the house, so as you look through a room to the outdoors, it is a nearly seamless transition,” Schmidt says. Even the high-gloss tiles on the kitchen backsplash are a shimmery water blue.

Schmidt played to Betty’s love of cottage charm, with wallpapered ceilings in several rooms, flouncy skirted chair cushions in the kitchen, and whimsical blue-and-yellow lanterns over the kitchen island. “I absolutely love those lanterns,” Betty gushes. 

Kitchen Detail

Barstools with clover-shape backs and seat cushions covered in an upbeat Lilly Pulitzer floral keep the mood light. 

Bar Area

Cabinets painted Benjamin Moore’s “Swiss Blue” are accented with white trim. Iridescent backsplash tiles from Market Collection add sparkle. 


The Schaefers eat many of their meals at the expandable table on the porch. Betty loves personalization, so she had the quilted-fabric chair-back covers monogrammed.


With so many people and so much activity, durability is an issue, and fabrics and furnishings were chosen accordingly. Floors throughout much of the house are wood with a factory-finish whitewash. “I wanted the light floors to be prefinished so I didn’t have to worry about repainting them,” Betty explains. Tile floors in the kids’ mudroom and baths are equally no-fuss.

To keep life organized, the grandchildren have their own monogrammed towels, drinking glasses, and colorful buckets for their shoes and sports gear. 

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom, with Benjamin Moore's "Pleasing Pink" on the walls is certainly that. You can practically feel the fuzzy "Grizzly" rug underfoot. A mother-of-pearl mirror over the chest of drawers from Bungalow 5 adds just the right amount of glam. 

Master Bathroom

Pink walls carry over from the master bedroom. The master bath is painted a punchy "Deep Carnation." White cabinets and a granite countertop balance the color.

Guest Bedroom

Upstairs there are three guest suites with outdoor balconies for the Schaefers’ grown-up children and their spouses; each has a different color scheme. “The goal was to make each suite feel special,” Schmidt says. “After making it to this beautiful spot, who wants to go to their bedroom and feel like they are back in Cincinnati?”

A vacation home calls for bold color combinations such as the orange-and-pink fabric on the Mario & Marielena headboard, the designer says. The Lee Industries X-base bench is covered with a playful orange zebra stripe by Bruschwig & Fils. 

Guest Bath

Glass knobs from Rejuvenation accent the Caesarstone-topped vanity.

Granddaughters' Room

Of course, grandkids get the royal treatment too. The six granddaughters share a Tiffany-blue-walled room with three matching four-poster trundle beds. The pink carpet is made for outdoor use and can be scrubbed down with water if necessary.



The four grandsons also have their own room –– a nautical-inspired bedroom with two bright red trundle beds. Plus, there’s an upstairs playroom and a teen-getaway room with kitchenette and large-screen TV behind the boat garage.

In the playroom, the kids enjoy the barefoot-comfort of the fuzzy rug from Surya while they play games on the large table made from reclaimed wood.


The Schaefers’ 10 grandchildren watch sailboats in the bay.


Daily life in North Port revolves around sailing classes, swimming, boating, golf, tennis, and just lounging on the patios with a book and a cool drink. “The whole point was to bring everyone together, so the cousins can play and build lots of wonderful memories,” Betty says of their summer home.

Homeowners Betty and George Schaefer. 

Directors Chairs

Who knows? The grandkids' memories may be woven into magical stories of a place called Raminentz. 

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Family Lake Home with Vibrant Color

A magical lake house makes dreams come true for an Ohio family

Written by Amy Elbert
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Werner Straube

When Betty and George Schaefer’s children were young, George would spin tales of Raminentz, a magical place where kids could go if they were good. “What is Raminentz?” the children clamored to know. “It’s the most wonderful place you could ever imagine,” he would reply.

Now 40 years later, the three Schaefer children—adults with families of their own—have found Raminentz at Betty and George’s vacation home on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. From the moment the Schaefer kids and grandkids saw the lakeside property, they dubbed it Raminentz.

The Schaefers and interior designer Elizabeth Schmidt teamed up with Michigan-based architect Robert Ben Begley and builder David Webster to develop plans for the 8,000-square-foot Shingle-style house.The home has a spacious porch and bluestone patios, and water views from nearly every room.The master suite and kitchen open to covered porches. Guest bedrooms and a playroom have second-level balconies.

Photography: Werner Straube
Produced by Sandra L. Mohlmann

Architect and landscape architect: Robert Ben Begley, 15419 Dunn Drive, Traverse City, MI 49686; 231/223-7331,
Interior designers: Elizabeth and Hope Schmidt, Elizabeth Schmidt Interior Design, 2834 Observatory Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208; 513/871-7721,
Builder: Dave Webster, David Webster Construction Inc., 812 S. Garfield Ave., Suite H, Traverse City, MI 49686; 231/941-7073,
Landscape contractor: Brian Macdonell, Traverse Outdoor, 2700 Townline Road, Traverse City, MI 49686; 231/947-4496,


Stonework: Peter Connor/Zack Bottenhorn, Connor Land and Stone,
Landscape contractor: Brian Macdonell, Traverse Outdoor,
Wicker chairs on porch (“Bar Harbor Lounge Chair” #7567): Palecek,
Cushion fabric (“Springtime” #42236-137): Duralee,


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