Fall 2008: Home for all seasons
For more than 60 years, the Roemer family has called Grandview Beach home.
For some of those years it was a typical summer place, with the come-as-you-are, everybody-welcome openness that comes with hot weather and lake frontage.
But for the last 30 years or so, this Grandview Beach house has been a home for all seasons for owners Tommy and Vickie Roemer.
Tommy’s dad, Wellington Roemer of Toledo, bought the LaSalle cottage from its original owners back in the 1940s. Spending summers on Lake Erie was the highlight of Tommy’s youth.
When his dad was ready, Tommy bought the house and lived there as a bachelor while teaching high school classes at Monroe Catholic Central in the ‘70s.
It was the arrival of Vickie in his life that initiated the creation of their “home for all seasons.”
“My first summer here was a shock for a girl who knew nothing about summers at the lake,” explained Vickie, who said the constant coming and going of family and friends and the ultra-casual lifestyle took her by surprise.
By the time the next summer rolled around there were some changes. Vickie made sure there was private bedroom and bathroom space and had locks installed on the doors.
“We love to entertain and that’s a special part of lake life that we enjoy. But it’s our home and we needed our space, too,” she said.
Their home has grown from a small duplex cottage with a carriage house out back to a spacious, warm and inviting home designed to accommodate the lake lifestyle and the ebb and flow of guests year around.
“There is something to love about living on Lake Erie in every season,” explains Tommy, whose love of the water has been a lifelong affair. He was one of the founders of the Lake Erie RoughRiders, a water-ski club formed when he was a boy. The group recently celebrated their 50th anniversary with an alumni party.
Summers on the shores of Lake Erie are a dream come true for children and adults alike, according to Tommy.
“I loved growing up here, the freedom and the natural beauty of the lake. Vickie and I wanted that for our children, too. Making this our family home is a decision we have never regretted,” he said.
The Roemer children, Tracey and Molly, who now live in Los Angeles, spent each childhood summer in the sun and on the water, free to entertain as many of their friends as they could gather, said Vickie.
“Oh, it was Grand Central Station here some days,” she said. “But lake life is casual and inviting and meant to be shared by a group.”
Other seasons have their own charm on the shores of Lake Erie, according to the Roemers. They explain that winter on the lake is captivating in its own unique way, cold and quiet and stark, yet offering a mildness that few who don’t live there can understand.
“People expect that we are blasted by cold blustery winds, but much of the winter is quiet, still and very beautiful. It’s a wonderful contrast to summer and you learn to love it, too,” said Tommy.
Over the years the Roemer family felt a need for more space. With only 55 feet of frontage, increasing livability in the home while maintaining the original footprint meant merging the upstairs duplex unit into their own family space.
The home features expansive and comfortable family areas on the main floor. A large living room dominated by a traditional fireplace accented with marble and flanked by plush twin sofas creates a warm conversation area, with a view to the lake. The opposite side of the house is devoted to a large television and more casual furnishings and also has a clear view of the lake.
The entire front of the house features a dining room and sunroom large enough to accommodate parties and holiday gatherings. A 180-degree wall of windows allows the breeze and light from the lake to splash around the room.
The second floor of the home features three bedrooms with baths. The master suite is contained by a full bank of windows across the front of the house and decorated in a monochromatic color scheme highlighted with walls of pale sky blue. The peaceful colors, combined with a breathtaking view of the lake, invite relaxation. Even the master bathroom is dominated by a full view of the lake and a feeling of openness and natural light.
The back of the house (or the front, depending on your point of view) has been remodeled over the last year to include a wide and welcoming stone porch covered to protect from the elements and furnished with cozy rocking chairs and wicker accents.
The porch is surrounded by lush plantings, perennials and evergreens designed to convey a relaxed, welcoming ambience to all who enter.
“This is our latest project—it has added so much to our enjoyment of the outdoors,” explained Tommy, who points out that both the front and the back of the home face the water. One side is lakefront and the other is creekside.
“So we have the wonderful benefit of gorgeous sunsets and beautiful sunrises,” he said, adding that the changes in the atmosphere due to lake effects give a luminous glow to the colors. The porch is a favorite spot to relax outdoors when winds from the lake blow onshore.
Other changes to the original home have included updating the kitchen and creating a bonus room within the carriage house.
“Our contractor is a neighbor and friend and one day Tommy just had to call him and ask him to get down here right away because I had a screwdriver in my hand and was ready to pry the kitchen cabinets off the wall myself,” said Vickie. The end result of that project is a gleaming new, yet country-cozy family kitchen with a clear view out to the beach and lake.
“Now I feel like part of the party even when I’m cooking. No more isolation from the fun,” said Vickie.
The girls used the bonus room to entertain friends as they grew into teenagers, explains Vickie. However, now that they have their own homes in California, Tommy has claimed the space for his collection of memorabilia from his alma mater, Ohio State University. He loves to share his enthusiasm with guests, even those who might have strong connections to a rival team in Michigan.
“Everything we have done here has been about maximizing available space, always with the intention of incorporating our wonderful view and access to Lake Erie. We are Lake People, for sure, and would not want to live any other way,” said Tommy.