Each room finds a balance between comfort and sophistication.
Mimi Read: How did the homeowners discover this lovely nest of old-fashioned vacation houses?
Watson: These clients were raised in this northern-Michigan community, and their parents still live in the area. It’s a late-19th-century enclave of white clapboard houses in a mix of Edwardian, Victorian, Carpenter Gothic, and Shingle styles. The homes are very Midwestern — fresh, summery, no-nonsense — and have been added onto over the years.
And the homeowners?
Watson: They’re a couple in their early fifties. Between them, they have five children, who have lots of friends. They live in Missouri year-round and had a nostalgic vision of owning a vacation home far away from cell phones and the digital world. They pictured a house with puzzles on the card table and a screen door that would slap shut with that aural echo of the past.
But this house is newer, right?
Watson: They tried but couldn’t find just the right old house. Then they discovered this 15-year-old Shingle Style house right on Lake Michigan, which is a body of water as clean, clear, and beautifully blue-green as you could possibly want. Every room in this house has an amazing view. You feel like you’re on the upper deck of a ship.
Your decorating here looks a bit Swedish to me — soft and lyrical.
Watson: It feels like northern Europe in this part of Michigan, where forests of pine and white birch reach all the way down to the water. It makes sense because a lot of Europeans from Scandinavia and Germany built houses when they arrived here decades ago. We wanted to reinforce those cultural roots but also make this home quintessentially American. Initially, it had darker rooms and, believe it or not, a Swiss Alps ski-lodge feeling. To make it more breezy and lighthearted, Louis XV limestone mantels were replaced with less-heavy Victorian Eastlake-style ones. We added beadboard paneling to almost every room. Dark-wood floors were swapped for white-pine ones.
How else do you make a very large house feel friendly?
Reid: You use a lot of handmade things that show love and care, along with tactile fabrics and surfaces. The dining room’s wallpaper reminds me of my girlhood in the Lake District of England. It’s an updated Morris & Co. print. The hand-blocked pattern is warm, while the ivory background keeps it airy. I’m obsessed with it!
That jolt of butter yellow gives the room a big lift, too.
Reid: On one side of the room, you see the blue of Lake Michigan, and the other side overlooks the green of the garden and forest beyond. Yellow is just so cheerful and fantastic with blue and green. The curtains are a small gold check. We didn’t want them lined and heavy, so they’re basically sheers stretched across that great expanse. The chairbacks have intense warmth and look great with the antique limed-oak table. Like a lot of the gray-washed antiques in this house, the table is evocative of driftwood that might have been picked up on the beach outside.
Read more: https://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/interior-designers/a18661065/marshall-watson-kate-reid-interview/