Country Meets Contemporary at a Michigan Getaway

Resigned for their urban loft and sleek modern furniture during the weekdays, this Chicago pair today turns within their city-slicker badges each weekend for a Michigan country life in a recently built contemporary farmhouse. Interior designers Tom Riker and James Dolenc of jamesthomas made the fresh, rural home to be filled with timber paneling, white oak floors and one-of-a-kind antiques. With high ceilings, open a grand front porch and a screened-in living area with a wood-burning stove, it is a space in which the homeowners can host large gatherings, relax with family and forget about the hustle and bustle of big-city living.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Tom Riker and James Dolenc, on weekends
Location: Glen, Michigan (about a two-hour push from Chicago)
Size: Around 4,200 square feet; 4 bedrooms (a hallway has two extra single beds), 4 1/2 baths

jamesthomas Interiors

The screened-in porch embodies farmhouse appeal. It’s filled with antique furniture which Riker and Dolenc scored at local antiques stores, fairs and flea markets. They had the quilt made from a metal watering jug, along with the cart coffee table predates all of the catalog copies found on the market now.

Although the area is not winterized, it has storm windows and also the owners utilize it year-round, including as the spot because of their Christmas tree. “About an hour after you lighting up the woodstove, the area warms up,” Riker says.

Stove: cast iron, Vermont Castings; Color: Ballard Designs

jamesthomas Interiors

Clerestory windows and a skylight keep the living room bright and light. “Although this is the formal living area, it still feels casual and inviting,” Riker says. “We utilized linen on the couches and comfy upholstered chairs. You can fit a lot of people in here”

The painting on the mantel was a housewarming gift from friend and artist Francine Turk of Chicago. (Interesting fact: From the movie The Breakup, with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan, ” Turk created all the art that Aniston’s character pretends to sketch, in addition to a number of the work from the gallery in which her personality functions.)

Paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore; coffee table: Noir

jamesthomas Interiors

Whitewashed white oak floors and butt combined wood paneling (similar to shiplap) on the walls and ceilings round out the farmhouse appeal. “Together with the paneling rather than drywall gave it a much more authentic country feeling,” Riker says.

jamesthomas Interiors

From the kitchen, Riker and Dolenc exchanged the usual can lights for pendants, schoolhouse lights and sconces to throw a more authentic country vibe.

Retractable shelves instead of top cabinets keep things open and relaxed. The nearly 9-foot-long kitchen island promotes casual weekend interacting.

Pendant lights: Pottery Barn; ceiling fixture: Restoration Hardware; sconces: Troy Lighting; countertops: Caesarstone; counter stools: Ballard Designs

jamesthomas Interiors

Guests also congregate about that eating place, in which built-in banquettes wrap round a zinc-topped kitchen table, which Riker states is quite durable and has a gorgeous patina.

The designer provides two useful tips for people designing a custom banquette: 1. Make certain that the spine has a pitch for relaxation, and two. Have the carpenter make a lip to hold the cushions in place to prevent sliding.

Kitchen chairs: Restoration Hardware

jamesthomas Interiors

A long hallway contributes to the garage, back deck and laundry area. “Plenty of guests encounter through this hallway, so we needed to dress it up and make it special,” Riker says. “There are plenty of hooks for beach totes, hats and towels, and places to kick off and stow your flip-flops. We made it extra long, added lots of windows and utilized tumbled travertine on the ground.”

Flooring: Ocean Blue tumbled travertine

jamesthomas Interiors

The first-floor master bedroom has a door which leads out to a private patio. “We utilized a herringbone rug in here to cozy up it for the winter,” Riker says. A four-poster bed and a mirror, both scored in a county fair, encapsulate laid-back comfort. The loveseat was a Craigslist locate, and also the couple’s cats really like to snuggle up on the Ikea sheepskin throw.

Bed: Pottery Barn; carpets: Ralph Lauren (discontinued)

jamesthomas Interiors

A photograph from Chicago artist Ron Seymour paired with classic accessories brings a rural touch into the master bathroom.

Bathtub: Piedmont Number872, Sunrise Plumbing

jamesthomas Interiors

There’s a nearly 800-square-foot area over the garage which contains an office, a tiny guest room, a bathroom and this long hallway with built-in bedrooms. It’s a favorite spot for young nieces and nephews if they spend the night.

jamesthomas Interiors

The new build is a crisp country home with a huge front porch and a standing-seam metallic roof. A stone retaining wall connects the home and garden into the greater landscape. “We wanted the house to feel farmhouse-ish but still do the job for now,” says Riker.

Windows: Pella; paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore; siding: Hardie plank

jamesthomas Interiors

The home sits on 4 acres about a block from Lake Michigan, allowing for a rare combination of close proximity to the shore and privacy. The plants are deerproof to keep the critters out of the landscaping.

See related