Five years ago, seasonal Glen Arbor residents Mark and Marilyn Bareman had a dilemma. The condominium they had purchased at The Homestead 10 years ago and fixed up was beyond tinkering. There was nothing else they could do to improve it.
So the Baremans, who live most of the year near Grand Rapids and love building projects, bought a split-level ranch house on South Sylvan Court, west of Glen Arbor between M-109 and Sleeping Bear Bay, through Bob and Ranae Ihme at LVR Realty. They closed the deal in the spring of 2006 and began working to restore a cottage-like atmosphere to their home up north.
What’s remarkable about the Baremans’ work is that, wherever possible, they’ve used reclaimed and refurbished materials to improve their home, which they call the HalSeaOn House. Mark, who together with his brother owns a commercial construction business called Bareman & Associates, believes he’s saved 75 percent of the cost of buying new materials. Using reclaimed materials has cost him time, but that he writes off as a hobby.
“My hobby is tinkering with stuff,” said Mark Bareman. “Sure, it would be far easier to order a load of new lumber or go to the big-box store and buy everything, but the dollar goes further when you buy refurbished material. And you see the work you put into it. You don’t need to count the hours by dollars, because it’s enjoyable to do.”
The beautiful wood floor in the HalSeaOn House’s dining room is a case in point. Mark’s work in commercial construction happened to take him to a high school gymnasium in Kalamazoo. The gym’s original wooden bleachers from the 1920s were being removed from the Lincoln International Studies school, and Mark stepped in to save the wood with the intention of using it to replace the carpeting in the living and dining rooms in his Glen Arbor home.
The recycling effort required him to remove 90 years worth of gum stuck to the bottom of the bleachers, fill the bolt holes with dowels, plane and router and apply a clear finish. Scraping off the gum, alone, took two people an entire day. But for the money he saved, and the trees he spared, the work was worth it.
For the porch, the Baremans used wainscoting from an office counter sitting on the roadside marked “free”, re-used commercial construction crating, and purchased reclaimed cedar boards from the Habitat ReStore in Grand Rapids. (Habitat uses the money from these recycled materials to build homes for underprivileged people.) Disassembled, cleaned and repainted, the materials looked like new.
The large oak table in the dining room is an antique they found online on Craig’s List. The lighting fixture over the dining table was designed and built by Mark using a $5 box of lamp parts from the Habitat ReStore. They salvaged sheet metal from a stage set used in their local church in Hudsonville, had the metal bent and cut and used it for shelving in a pantry and game closet. Best of all, the hutch is an antique. Mark built the mirror using oak from a futon they retrieved from LVR Realty’s dumpster.
And yet, were you to visit the HalSeaOn House, you’d never know that these materials were enjoying their second life. Mark and Marilyn Bareman’s home looks immaculate and warm — but with a northern Michigan “woodsy” feel.
The Baremans rent out their home through much of the high summer months. They prefer to experience Glen Arbor in the spring, fall and winter — and retire here some day. Before they left in late May, though, they managed to build an outdoor shower. For them, the tinkering never stops.