{"blog_navigation_items":[{"id":1,"label":"Interiors","description":"\u003cp\u003eInteriors\u003c/p\u003e\r\n","description_heading":"Our Favorites:","url":"/lifestyle/category/interiors","blog_navigation_links":[{"id":1,"label":"Home/Room Tour","url":"/lifestyle/category/interiors/home-room-tour"},{"id":2,"label":"DIY Design","url":"/lifestyle/category/interiors/diy-design"},{"id":18,"label":"Tips \u0026 Tricks","url":"/lifestyle/category/interiors/tips-and-tricks"},{"id":21,"label":"Design Direction","url":"/lifestyle/category/interiors/design-direction"},{"id":25,"label":"Gray's Home","url":"/lifestyle/category/interiors/grays-home"}],"blog_navigation_blocks":[{"label":"Home/Room Tour: Jamie Chung’s California Chic Style","url":"","id":27,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/027/original/20210731_GRAYMALIN_Shot1b_copy_(1).jpg?updated=1630442671"},{"label":"Home/Room Tour: Tour Sarah Levy's Los Angeles Home","url":"","id":19,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/019/original/0-Sarah_Levy-11.jpeg?updated=1630442671"},{"label":"Gray's Home: Tour Gray’s Lake Home Renovation","url":"","id":21,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/021/original/0a-rainbowridge.jpg?updated=1599672649"},{"label":"Home/Room Tour: Marie Flanigan's Office Design","url":"","id":29,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/029/original/NOYB_Guest_House_Living_Room_-_day_trip_copy_(1)_(1).jpg?updated=1630442754"}]},{"id":2,"label":"Travel","description":"\u003cp\u003eTravel\u003c/p\u003e\r\n","description_heading":"Our Favorites:","url":"/lifestyle/category/travel","blog_navigation_links":[{"id":3,"label":"Jetset Journal","url":"/lifestyle/category/travel/jetset-journal"},{"id":4,"label":"Travel Guide","url":"/lifestyle/category/travel/travel-guide"},{"id":5,"label":"Out of Office","url":"/lifestyle/category/travel/out-of-office"}],"blog_navigation_blocks":[{"label":"Out of Office: Our Favorite Wintery Destinations","url":"","id":6,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/006/original/0-the-field_copy.jpg?updated=1610574659"},{"label":"Out of Office: Gray’s Favorite Beaches in the USA","url":"","id":24,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/024/original/9-surfside-beach-nantucket.jpg?updated=1599672910"},{"label":"Out of Office: Our 10 Destinations We Can’t Wait to Get Back to","url":"","id":7,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/007/original/0-Lake_Como_by_Boat.jpg?updated=1610574659"},{"label":"Travel Guide: Gray’s Guide to Maine","url":"","id":8,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/008/original/0-Old_Orchard_Beach_Pier__Maine.jpg?updated=1610574659"}]},{"id":3,"label":"The Art of Having Fun","description":"\u003cp\u003eThe Art of Having Fun\u003c/p\u003e\r\n","description_heading":"Our Favorites:","url":"/lifestyle/category/the-art-of-having-fun","blog_navigation_links":[{"id":10,"label":"Happy \u0026 Healthy","url":"/lifestyle/category/the-art-of-having-fun/happy-and-healthy"},{"id":6,"label":"Sips \u0026 Snacks","url":"/lifestyle/category/the-art-of-having-fun/sips-and-snacks"},{"id":13,"label":"Gray's Musts","url":"/lifestyle/category/the-art-of-having-fun/gray-s-musts"},{"id":8,"label":"Pop The Bubbly","url":"/lifestyle/category/the-art-of-having-fun/pop-the-bubbly"},{"id":22,"label":"Out of Frame","url":"/lifestyle/category/the-art-of-having-fun/out-of-frame"},{"id":24,"label":"Shades of Gray","url":"/lifestyle/category//the-art-of-having-fun/shades-of-gray"}],"blog_navigation_blocks":[{"label":"Out of Frame: Free Dogs Phone Backgrounds","url":"","id":20,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/020/original/0-October_Backgrounds.jpg?updated=1610574507"},{"label":"Gray's Musts: 10 Prints to Kick Off Your GM Collection","url":"","id":23,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/023/original/8-La_Fontelina_Loungers.jpg?updated=1610574507"},{"label":"Pop the Bubbly: Veuve Clicquot x Gray Malin (+ an Exclusive Zoom Background)","url":"","id":10,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/010/original/Veuve_Clicquot_Yellow_Balloons.jpg?updated=1610574507"},{"label":"Out of Frame: Guess the Bon Voyage Character","url":"","id":28,"image":",w_1000,q_50,f_auto/gray-malin/blog_navigation_blocks/images/000/000/028/original/BV4-Lifestyle-4n.jpg?updated=1610574507"}]},{"id":4,"label":"Latest \u0026 Greatest","description":"\u003cp\u003eLatest \u0026amp; 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Gray's Home: Introducing Our Lake Michigan Fixer Upper

Hi Everyone,

I am very excited to welcome you to a special project, #RainbowRidgeReno! If you have been following along my personal instagram @graymalinpersonal you might have seen that my husband and I recently purchased a fixer-upper on Lake Michigan. Today I am happy to share the story behind the project and shed light on how we are planning to renovate this 103-year-old home.


My great grandparents lived near Detroit, Michigan and built a summer home on Lake Michigan. The house is part of a community of about 100 homes that have been passed along from generation to generation, giving way to incredible family friendships and life-long traditions. Growing up I would escape the Texas heat and venture to Lake Michigan with my family to enjoy summertime with my aunts, uncles, cousins and childhood friends. I ran the ice cream and candy shop when I was a teenager and even started a little business selling snow cones during community softball games and tennis matches. You could say my entrepreneurship skills started early thanks to the community!

Gray Malin as a child

As an adult, I was married to my husband in the community in 2012 and have since seen many of my best childhood friends get married there, including my little sister last summer. My parents were even married there in 1983.

Gray Malin Wedding

Needless to say, I have loved and shared in countless memories throughout the years with generations of friends and family.

Now, heading into parenthood, my husband and I decided to buy our own home in the community as we cannot imagine a better place to invest in a future second home. For a number of years we eyed this specific home for its location (it’s very central in the community), but there was no doubt that it was the crummiest house on the block. Though many people didn’t see the potential, we persevered and followed our instincts. We put in an offer and after a few back and forth negotiations, we are now the proud owners of our new getaway, which we have lovingly dubbed “Rainbow Ridge.” Unlike #projectGMdreamhome which, admittedly, is a turn-key purchase and is more about bringing the home to life with various interior design projects, Rainbow Ridge is a massive overhaul and remodel.

With patience and a little creativity, we have begun to map out the vision with a local builder, Troxel Homes. I will get into Troxel shortly, but the best part is that I get to share it all with you...every little detail from beginning to end is going to be documented here, and I’m over the moon excited to have you all along for the ride.


Many of the houses in the community are built on sand dunes as it is located directly on the edge of Lake Michigan. The area is very lush with trees and plants indigenous to the region, and the homes themselves blend in and compliment their environment as well as one another. With that in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to share a few snaps of some of the other homes in the area, in order to provide a bit more perspective into the reasons behind our internal and external renovation decisions to #RainbowRidgeReno.

The homes are very quaint with a cottage feel. The look is classic and not overly complicated.


  • The homesite is only 50’ wide with a 36’ wide home.  Due to the narrow lot, zoning variances were required to maintain the 36’ foot width of the home, as it is wider than zoning requirements allow.
  • The home is situated at the top of a dune that runs across the property, with the access road at the bottom of the dune.  There is a 22’ increase in elevation in the 40’ directly in front of the home, requiring DEQ (Depart of Environmental Quality) permitting for the site and limiting what can be done in the area.  Of primary concern for the construction of the home, all materials must be hand carried to the top of the dune without the ability to get delivery trucks up the jobsite.
  • Luckily, Troxel Custom Homes has previously built other homes in this community and has earned a reputation of going beyond the expectations of a normal homebuilder and is comfortable with the requirements of working with a community and jobsite of this type. Trust me, there is a lot of red tape!


  • The house, more accurately called a cottage for its architectural style and intended use, was built in 1915.
  • Original square footage is 1,939
  • It is currently 4 bedrooms and 2 and ½ baths
  • The existing home was raised off of its original cedar piling foundation in the early 90s and a new concrete foundation was placed under it. Because of the difficulty of the site, and more strict building requirements of today, the decision was made to keep this new lower level and demo/remove most of the original structure above it.
  •  Upon purchase, we removed two large trees in the front of the home, in order to add a porch and sunroom. We also removed trees behind the house that were at the end of their lifespan, adding lots of natural light to the home.


Upper Level

The plans below show how the home is currently configured on the upper level. Design.jpg-_lenMFI

When we first started the new plans, we found ourselves trapped into thinking about the current layout. It was frustrating to feel so boxed in. However, it was an important lesson - vision takes time and if you rush it, you might make mistakes.

Looking closely at the plan below versus the existing layout above, you will see we folded the screen porch into the main floor plan of the home and added a sunroom and deck on the front of the house. We also rearranged the bathrooms but left the kitchen where it was originally. Overall, the layout changes were minimal.

Eventually we began thinking outside the box and played around with the layout, moving the kitchen to the front of the home. Once we made this change everything else began to fall into place. The kitchen, great room, and sunroom would flow freely into one another, allowing for privacy towards the back of the home where the two upstairs bedrooms are located. The master bedroom has beautiful views of the woods while the kitchen, deck and sunroom will have gorgeous views of the community fields below.

Lower Level

The lower level is built into the sand dune and has two bedrooms and 1 bathroom. The plans below show how the home is currently configured on the lower level.

Looking closely at the plan below versus the existing layout above, you will see we had to keep most of the layout the same due to the pre-existing foundation. However, we were able to make some nice improvements. First, we enlarged the bathroom to have a separate space for the toilet, along with double sinks since there are two bedrooms sharing the bathroom. Secondly, we changed the point of entry so you come into the mud room which was thoughtfully redesigned to have a small washer and dryer room as well as a second refrigerator and additional storage. Lastly, we are removing the cinder block from the upstairs fireplace in bedroom #4 and adding a second window so there is a lot more light in the room.


To celebrate the purchase, we took some liberties with a little temporary decorating updates. These before images will provide insight into the decisions made for the remodel.

From screened porch to future kitchen:

Future great room connecting kitchen and sunroom:

From pre-existing kitchen to future master bedroom:

Remodeling the lower floors while changing the pitch of the roof:

These images are just a taste of the changes to come, of course but I hope they help you understand a little more about how we will be renovating the house. Below is a sneak peek sketch of how the front of the home will look when it is complete:


If you’re a fan of this blog, then you should already be familiar with our Interior Design Contributor, Kate Lester. If not, you have some catching up to do! She is a super talented Southern California-based designer and has weighed in on everything from Styling Art like a Pro to Flea Market Fundamentals, so definitely take a moment to read up when you have a chance.

In the meantime, I’m delighted to share we are hiring Kate to add her design expertise and sophisticated eye to the evolution of Rainbow Ridge!

Kate is based in Hermosa Beach not far from our home in Los Angeles. She will be working closely with us and Troxel Homes on the exterior and interior design of the home including lighting fixtures, tile, flooring, paint, wallpaper, and of course, furniture. Having Kate on board is a dream come true not just because of her aesthetic but because of her years of expertise. It does not matter how many design blogs you read, when it comes to remodelling a home you really need an expert to consult with so you don’t make costly mistakes.

When she came to the job site with us on Lake Michigan earlier this month, I could not believe how much we got accomplished before construction starts this week. Stay tuned for more on what Kate and I will be doing with the interior design and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted as the project develops. April is just around the corner, and I’m so excited to share every step of this renovation process with you!

For all of the in between times, be sure to catch me here, @graymalinpersonal, and as always, thanks for following along. Here we go #RainbowRidgeReno!










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