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The Visbeens’ open-concept living space with eat-in kitchen and Napoleon Vector gas fireplace makes efficient use of space without sacrificing the luxuries they desired.

When architect and owner of Visbeen Architects, Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, and his wife, Angela Visbeen, set out to design an integrated live-work space in East Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Gaslight Village, they envisioned a property that seamlessly combined form and function. A space that blended efficiency and practicality with the luxury amenities they desired, ultimately serving as both their family’s home and business’ design studio.

The Visbeens’ resulting 6,000-square-foot building serves as their private residence on the top floor; a guest apartment / flex space and offices on the second floor; a work space on the main level for Vision Interiors, Inc., the interior design firm also owned by Visbeen; and a fitness center on the lower level.

Just the Right Size

The impeccable live-work space incorporates one of today’s most popular trends in home design: rightsizing. Rightsizing involves designing a space that is just the right size for each customer’s unique needs; less square footage with more functionality. For example, many people are excluding separate dining rooms from their homes and replacing them with a better-designed eat-in kitchen, allowing them to maximize the square footage of usable space.

Determining the proper size and intended usage of a space is key to laying the groundwork for an efficient living or working environment. After that foundation is established, the next step is to focus on dressing the space and incorporating customized features and amenities to take the design from simply functional to functional, comfortable and enjoyable.

Custom Amenities

Today’s homeowners are focusing more on rightsizing, but that doesn’t mean they are making sacrifices. Instead of spending money on more space, homeowners are shifting their spending—investing more money on the amenities that are most important to them.


The Visbeens’ space illustrates this concept throughout, incorporating features such as an all-season porch on the second story, complete with retractable screens and panels, and a third-floor porch with a Napoleon Kensington Square Patioflame Table and Napoleon Prestige PRO 665 gas grill.

Other amenities include an elevator to easily move furniture and other items from floor to floor, custom pull-out walk-in closets by Dovetail Workshop in the master bedroom, and a total of five Napoleon Fireplaces, which add warmth and character.

A Napoleon STARfire fireplace with traditional brick surround welcomes clients into a flexible work space on the main level.
A Napoleon STARfire fireplace with traditional brick surround welcomes clients into a flexible work space on the main level. 

A linear Vector gas fireplace serves as a transitional feature in the family’s private residence, uniting an open concept kitchen, dining and living space. On the main floor, a more traditional Napoleon STARfire gas fireplace surrounded by intricate brickwork welcomes clients into Vision Interiors’ office.

The building also incorporates fireplaces in some unexpected spaces. In the lower level fitness room, two linear Napoleon Allure electric fireplaces with custom wood surrounds add ambiance to daily workouts. Finally, a tall, sleek Napoleon Vittoria gas fireplace heats the building’s garage as a sleek alternative to the typical clunky garage heater.

The Visbeens’ exemplary planning and design demonstrates some of today’s hottest lifestyle trends and has culminated in an efficient, luxurious space that allows them to seamlessly transition from work to home life.