Vermilion Views

A family homestead that capitalizes on an expansive beachfront is a haven for relaxation, entertainment and making memories. 

Lake life is a family tradition for Keleen McDevitt and Tom Hanway, who built a Vermilion beachfront home to carry on a legacy of spending time together. 

“As kids, my grandmother’s brother settled here, and we were lucky to come out and visit. Over the years, Tom and I started visiting the lake, too” Keleen relates. “When it came time to retire, we wanted to build a home on the lake.” 

They owned a property on the east side of Vermilion and realized they could use more space. They happened upon a beachfront property with a home and outparcel garage. “In his eyes, it was perfect because he collects muscle cars,” Keleen says. 

Tom pipes in, “I had a vision for an old gas station like back in the 1930s with the pumps and overhang, something really different.” So first came the “service station,” which they joke, turned out so authentic that sometimes people try to stop in to fuel up. 

The existing home on the property lacked the amenities and floor plan the couple envisioned for a family home. So, they enlisted in architect Stephen Schill to create a home that spoke to their active, entertaining lifestyle and appreciation of the water. 

“With every client, I spend time understanding their needs because everyone lives in a house differently,” says Schill, principal, Schill Architecture. “With the unique nature of the property, we could build into the ground with a walkout lower level that is great for hanging out with friends and family — it’s like being on vacation all of the time.”

“There are definitely outdoor living spaces in abundance,” Keleen adds. “There are views from every room, and we have 235 feet of beachfront, so this is a very unique property.”

Their priorities for the design were spaces that felt warm and inviting — spacious enough for children and grandchildren — and sophisticated but not ostentatious.

Every space within the 9,000-square-foot lakehouse serves a purpose. An open floor plan offers plenty of room on the first level for living and entertaining. An elegant floating stairway leads to a lower level equipped with a kitchenette and bar space, theater, entertaining area and walkout patio, along with a couple of bedrooms and bathrooms for guests.

A morning room with sunset views opens up to a gourmet kitchen, which continues into the lake room in a seamless sweep. Meanwhile, architectural details such as coffered ceilings, decorative trim and columns in white add to the overall brightness and contrast with reclaimed barnwood flooring throughout. 

Floor selection required special attention. “We wanted all hardwood, and because it was so much space to cover, we really wanted to see how it was laid out in another home,” Keleen says, relating that the couple visited a house in nearby Catawba that helped them make a decision.

Schill says the reclaimed wood is from five species. It is finished, yet rustic. “It’s elegant but also casual,” he says. 

Variation in room shape also creates individual spaces within a free-flowing floor plan. “The morning room is octangular, and it’s so comfortable to sit there and watch the water views,” Keleen says. 

The master bedroom includes an ensuite with a walk-in shower and jacuzzi tub. A steam shower is a feature that is integrated into the guest bathroom. 

“We didn’t want a formal dining room — we really wanted living spaces,” Keleen says. “There is a morning room where we can read and relax after dinner, a lake room for music — we play the piano — and if you want to get away and feel like you’re at the movies, there’s the lower level.”

From the patio, “the views feel as if we are on a ship,” Keleen says. The downstairs bluestone patio leads to the water while the upper deck has a glass railing for unobstructed views. 

Keleen and Tom are true lake lovers and advocates. “Lake Erie Foundation became our charity of choice knowing that we can make a difference in our own backyard,” Keleen says. 

Overall, Keleen and Tom say their home is a reflection of how they appreciate the lake and time with loved ones. “We took our time, and communicating with the architect was key,” she says, adding that they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. “We decided on Vermilion due to my past experiences coming here in the summer as a child; inherently having a love for the lake as my parents had a Lyman boat.”

When Keleen and Tom are not entertaining friends and family and spending time at home, they enjoy bird watching, paddleboarding, boating and relaxing at the beach, as well as volunteering for Main Street Vermilion events.

“We feel fortunate to have landed in a community-driven small town flowing with pride,” she says. “The leadership of its mayor and his team are unequivocal to any place else we have lived. The convenience of the Metroparks and state preserves also made this the No. 1 choice to live.”