Then and now: 4 B&Bs make changes

Every HGTV fan loves a good before and after story. Here are five then-and-now stories from Michigan bed and breakfasts.

Looking Glass Beachfront Inn, Grand Haven

Then: The long-time owners of Looking Glass Inn Bed and Breakfast wanted to retire and had the place up for sale in the fall of 2016. Along came Brian and Sarah King, out for a carefree autumn drive B.C. — before children. Now, the couple have two boys under three years old.

“Driving on South Harbor Drive, we wondered how much it would cost to own a place with those incredible Lake Michigan views,” Brian King recalls. “It was pure dumb luck that the one address we snagged to look up the cost was Looking Glass.”

Minutes later, Brian and Sarah were sitting and sipping at Odd Side Ales “doing napkin math. Had we grabbed any other address, we wouldn’t have ended up with a B&B.”

The Water Room at Looking Glass B&B
Now: The Water Room, with its blue ombre wall.

The B&B idea snowballed from there, Brian says, with ample due diligence. Their favorable initial impressions were of the huge deck overlooking a sandy beach and Lake Michigan, the abundance of windows, and the fact that every B&B room had its own bathroom and at least a partial lake view. “I first came through the house casually. Then I came through as if I were a guest. Finally I came through from the standpoint of an owner, asking how much fixing up would it require. Answer: Not much.”

Then: Brian worked in sales for W.W. Grainger, an industrial supply giant, selling goods to prisons. “Everything from toilet paper to forklifts,” Brian says. Sarah had a government job.

Now, the couple are busy parents and owners of a B&B. Sarah kept her government job. Brian oversees the operation of the five-guestroom inn, whose name was recently changed to Looking Glass Beachfront Inn at the suggestion of a marketing adviser. “As soon as he said it, it was like palm to face,” Brian says. “In a list of 20 places to stay in the Grand Haven area, that word ‘beachfront’ sticks out. ”

Then: Although the house was in “very good shape and didn’t really need anything,” it had been for sale for four or five years, and Brian and Sarah wanted to update and make it their own.” So, every room got some upgrades and the couple’s personal touch, including the addition of photographs Brian has made.

Now: What’s new in the past few months is that the Kings hired a photographer who specializes in bed and breakfast photography. The new photos, plus a new website, really show off the improvements the owners have made.

All the rooms have names connected to natural elements of the inn’s location overlooking Lake Michigan and its glorious sunsets (top photo).

Then: The popular Water Room was painted yellow.

Now: Brian gave it an ombre paint scheme in shades of blue. Now it has a Caribbean feel, guests tell Brian.

Then: The Dunegrass Room was green with white rattan furnishings.

Now: See for yourself…

Dunegrass room at Looking Glass Beachfront Inn
The Dunegrass Room is popular with families because two children can sleep in a loft with cool built-in bunk beds. The family would share a jack-and-jill bathroom.


Bellaire Bed and Breakfast, Bellaire

Empire Room before do-over
Then: The Empire Room.
Work in progress on the Empire Room
The work in progress.
The Empire Room after do-over
After: A fresh, hip look.

It has been less than a year since Holly Wilson became the owner of the popular Inn at Breezy Hill Farm so it’s too soon for a full reveal of changes she’s made, let alone changes still in the planning stages.

For example, we’ll talk later, after they’ve grown up, about the ladies in the new, designer henhouse. They will contribute eggs for Holly’s foodie, farm-fresh breakfasts. Another change in the works: In space near the inn’s front door, Holly is establishing the Inn at Breezy Hill Farm Bed + Breakfast Mercantile, a showcase for the work of local artisans.

Make no mistake, the inn was in great shape when Holly acquired it. She just happens to have a different esthetic than the beloved former owners, David and Jim, who retired. For example, carpeting is going-going, revealing wood floors, gleaming once again.

Compare the before and after photos of the Empire Room. Gone are the heavy, padded valances, drapes, and floral comforters. White gives a fresh, clean look to the sleigh bed and all its accoutrement.

Future and past guests and armchair travelers alike will enjoy following Bellaire B&B’s Facebook or Instagram pages, where Holly posts photos of scenes around the inn and breakfasts you’ll be sorry you missed. Even Holly’s hashtags, such as #chickenmom and #comeforthefood, are loaded with personality.



Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast, Ludington

Before and after photos of the Rose Room, now called the Carpenter Room, at Lamplighter B&B in Ludington
The Rose Room becomes The Carpenter Room at Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast.

When Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast innkeepers Jen and Dan Hinderer recently decided to steam and strip off the pastel wallpaper in the Rose Room and paint the room a soothing blue and to dress the queen bed in white, the name Rose Room no longer fit. So, they renamed this peaceful haven The Carpenter Room. More functional, less frilly window treatments were added, too.

Jen says, “This wasn’t the biggest reno we’ve done, but it was definitely our most memorable, thanks to lots of help from a couple of tiny assistant innkeepers,” namely Jacob, age 4, and nine-month-old Ezra. “Let’s just say there were more than a few touch-ups to walls and floors.”


Nordic Pineapple Bed and Breakfast, St. Johns

Paint cans, tape and plastic sheeting arrayed on a kitchen counter top
Put yourself in the innkeepers’ shoes on March 23.

Innkeepers Kjersten and Greg Offenbecker either had a queue of deferred projects or an uncanny premonition of Michigan’s COVID-19 shut-down because look at this array of paint cans in a photo posted March 23 on The Nordic Pineapple B&B’s Facebook page

The foyer before repainting is painted white.
The foyer before.

That very same day, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-21, ordering all people in Michigan to stay home and stay safe. It seems the Offenbeckers were well-prepared for self-isolating along with their two school-aged children.

One of their first projects was to give the foyer more drama, using two shades of blue.

See before and after photos. Notice how the contrast makes the white baseboard and stairway trim pop. The darker blue of a hallway leading to the innkeepers’ private quarters is a beautiful backdrop for a collection of clocks.

Painting a bed and breakfast’s foyer is not a project innkeepers undertake when guests are expected. It’s a hospitality no-no to remind guests of projects on their own to-do lists back home.

After painting, the walls of the foyer are two shades of blue
The foyer after.

“The pandemic allowed us the time to make the mess necessary for this change,” Kjersten says.

But the updates at this B&B 30 minutes north of Lansing didn’t stop with the walls of the foyer.

The wallpaper was stripped in the The Blue Ram suite, which now has three blue walls and a wood-look feature wall behind the king-size white sleigh bed.

No more wallpaper in The Teal Bear suite either. Instead, freshly painted walls of deep taupe make the ornate four-poster king bed the star of the room.

The Offenbeckers aren’t anti-wallpaper, mind you. They just know how to use it to full advantage in the right places.

Dark blue walls accent a collection of clocks
A hall leads from the foyer to the owners’ quarters.

See Nordic Pineapple’s Facebook page for videos showing off a first-floor powder room newly papered with an eye-popping mural featuring peacocks. You’ll see video room reveals of The Blue Ram and The Teal Bear, too.

Outside, a new pergola over an outdoor fireplace provides a great place for guests to relax. After all the Offenbeckers accomplished in just nine or 10 weeks, we hope Greg and Kjersten also got to log some time in those new Adirondack chairs.


Did you notice that all of these Michigan bed and breakfast innkeepers took a dive into shades of blue?

Classic Blue does happen to be Pantone’s Color of the Year 2020, but perhaps this coincidence is instead a case of great minds thinking alike. Be sure to ask the innkeepers when you stay at any of these terrific Michigan bed and breakfasts.