Channel Road Charm
The Gadowski family, at home on Crooked Lake
Sharon Gadowski is a planner. It took her and husband Jerry more than two years to design their breathtaking Crooked Lake house right down to the mullions, but she’d been tearing out magazine features of ideas long before then.
Now, she’s looking ahead to some additional landscaping features, for when her boys (now in junior high and St. Francis elementary) bring home their prom dates, who will surely be in high heels.
And she loves to host formal dinner parties regularly, in the event her sons ever get invited to the White House for dinner, they’ll know how to properly use silverware and fold their cloth napkins.
The family indeed has the house to accomodate innumberable future plans — and they’re having a load of fun in the moment, too. With the summer months just around the bend, the Gadowskis will be living it up on one of Northern Michigan’s glorious inland lakes.
“It’s a great place to raise a family,” Sharon said. “It’s our dream house.”
When the Gadowskis started looking to move north from their hometown area of Birmingham, they found a lot they loved on Crooked Lake. There was a woefully neglected house on the property and, having no connections to the area, Sharon looked up builders in the phone book and asked them to come out to the property and give them a bid.
Out of 10 calls, one builder showed up: Jim Knibbs, of Petoskey.
“We never got a second bid,” Sharon said. “Jim could not be nicer to work with.”
Dr. Gadowski has been called away for an emergency (he’s a cardiologist with Michigan Heart & Vascular in Petoskey) so Sharon handles the talking and overview of the home’s details on this day of the interview. Among the first items she notes is the abundance of flat-panels.
“We’re huge hockey fans,” she enthuses. Her boys are active with the Petoskey Area Hockey Association, having been skating since they were 3 or so, and she’s eagerly anticipating their foray into the high school hockey realm.
“Really we like to watch all sports. Yesterday we all watched the Master’s together in there,” she says, gesturing to the home-theater behind where we’re talking.
The movie room seriously rocks. A wall-sized screen descends from the ceiling and room-blackening shades heighten the experience, along with leather movie-theater style chairs and the latest Blu-Ray technology.
Everywhere in the house, every room, is centered around Sharon and Jerry’s love of their two sons. In such an elegant home, where it’s hard to imagine a Kool-aid spill or muddy lacrosse stick, the boys are at the fore — from the “family vacation” photo wall started with pictures from a recent Alaskan adventure, to their sprawling play space above the three-stall garage.
“We built this house for the kids, so they will want to be here,” Sharon said.
There are some features that mom and dad like, too, of course, like the bisque-colored kitchen with more cabinets than I could count; the sparkling Baker chandelier in the dining room that was painstakingly moved from their Birmingham home; and the outdoor grilling and entertaining area overlooking the lake.
Jerry’s hobby as a ham radio operator is indulged, too, with his own office space filled with receivers and even a Morse code clicker. “He is so passionate about it,” Sharon said.
As she walks around recalling design dilemmas and details, Sharon can’t fight her nature. She’s planning again, where she would like additional lighting, about the boating and kayaking they’ll do this summer as a family and how she’s searching for the right inspirational phrase to have painted to dance across the soffet above the kitchen table alcove.
“I don’t want it to say ‘Bon Appetit’ or something like that,” she considers. “I want it to be thankful to God for all that we have.”
The Gadowski Family
The family: Dr. Jerry and Sharon Gadowski and their sons Zachary, 13, and Nicholas, 10
The house: 6,500 square feet
Baths: 5 1/2
Lake frontage: 180 feet along Crooked Lake
Construction began: November 2005
Move in: January 2007
Notable features: Brazilian cherry floors; upper and main level laundry rooms; cavernous home theater with drop-down screen and room-blackening shades; radiant in-floor heating and geothermal system; turret above master bath; upper level guest bath brickwork was laid in the same pattern to resemble that of a hotel suite in Washington, D.C., the city where the boys were born.
Builder: Jim Knibbs, Jim Knibbs Building and Remodeling, Petoskey
Architect: Rick Neumann, Petoskey
Site engineering, including setbacks: Benchmark Engineering, Harbor Springs
Kitchen and bath design: Caroline Liken, CJ Designs, Harbor Springs
Home theater, TVs and related equipment: American Home Technology, Harbor Springs
Geothermal system, radiant floor heat: Fairbairn & Sons, Alanson
Lighting: Bear River Electric
Tile: Installer, Steve Wolf, Petoskey; supplier, Emmet Brick & Block, Harbor Springs