The Bridgers re­veal a dreamy sym­bio­sis of in­doors and out at their Michigan farm­house.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY JOLENE NOLTE

Dis­cover how the Bridgers stun­ningly blend in­doors and out in this fourth in our six-part se­ries on a young fam­ily’s ren­o­va­tion of a 100-year-old aban­doned farm­house in western Michigan.

With the busy­ness of fam­ily and pro­fes­sional life in the city, who wouldn’t want a place to breathe the fresh coun­try air, rock­ing on a porch swing wrapped up in a blan­ket? The out­door spa­ces in the Bridgers’ 1916 farm­house of­fer them just that. Chris­tine walks us through the de­sign choices and for­tu­itous finds that got them there.


In Parts 1 through 3, you read about the Bridgers’ con­cern for pe­riod au­then­tic­ity, and their ap­proach to the ex­te­rior rooms is no dif­fer­ent. It was im­por­tant to them to have the pri­mary en­trance be the orig­i­nal farm­house. As you ap­proach the main en­trance with the cus­tom-made swing, you are fac­ing the orig­i­nal home struc­ture.

They wanted to keep the orig­i­nal lap sid­ing, but it was “frag­ile,” Chris­tine says. “So what we did was take the same width for the lap sid­ing, painted it the ex­act same shade of white, and we didn’t fill in the nail holes” so as to match the orig­i­nal.

An­other as­pect in keep­ing with the orig­i­nal home’s era is the ex­posed rafters. “It’s rare that you see that these days, but you get so much more charm that way,” Chris­tine says.

The swing, while new, was an im­por­tant piece in main­tain­ing a wel­com­ing, au­then­tic feel. Sim­ply South­ern Home Dé­cor cus­tom de­signed the swing for the Bridgers. Chris­tine ex­plains her vi­sion for it was that it “look like it had al­ways been there.” Given how im­por­tant the porch swing was for the am­bi­ence, Chris­tine searched far and wide for tra­di­tional rope. Most stores only car­ried white ny­lon rope, but Chris­tine per­sisted and fi­nally found tra­di­tional rope to match her dream porch swing.


The porch wraps around from the en­trance to a cov­ered out­door liv­ing room. Brick her­ring­bone adds an el­e­gantly rustic touch. “There are chips and the con­crete is smeared in places,” an in­ten­tional choice to help the de­sign feel like it had al­ways been there. A couch, set­tee and two chairs form a wel­com­ing seat­ing area.

With a rug, rustic ta­ble, dimmable lights and an un­ob­tru­sive Sonos speaker, this area is perfect for cozy­ing up un­der a blan­ket with clas­si­cal mu­sic play­ing, the sound of Lake Michigan’s lap­ping waves in the back­ground, and the sight of or­chards, fields and a stream. “It’s so idyl­lic,” Chris­tine says.

What’s more, it’s also a cen­tral lo­ca­tion. When search­ing for the perfect porch fur­nish­ings, Chris­tine found a lonely, vin­tage Jenny Lind style chair in an an­tique store, but she was on the hunt for a match­ing pair. With a ref­er­ence photo in hand, Chris­tine searched long and hard un­til she found replica chairs on birch­ Stick­ing with the farm look, Chris­tine opted for the striped tick­ing fab­ric.


An out­door din­ing area makes their home ideal for en­ter­tain­ing. The metal din­ing fur­ni­ture from Lowe’s is perfect since the pieces are durable enough to with­stand the out­doors, so the Bridgers don’t have to fuss with bring­ing them in and out.

Chris­tine val­ues farm-to-ta­ble en­ter­tain­ing, and with their prox­im­ity to lo­cal farms that sell dairy prod­ucts and lo­cal or­chards, in­clud­ing their own, their farm­house is a place to re­lax and en­joy the sim­ple things. While Chris­tine got her dream porch swing, Gabe got his dream grill. “Gabe is the head chef,” Chris­tine ex­plains, and hav­ing a grill that can ac­com­mo­date out­door cook­ing is essen­tial for en­ter­tain­ing.

It is also im­por­tant to the Bridgers that every­one feel wel­come. “Be­ing in Michigan, there are lim­ited days of sun­shine,” Chris­tine says, “so most of the time, if you’re go­ing to be out­side, you will prob­a­bly want a blan­ket.” Blan­kets were a top pri­or­ity as both a pri­mary punch of de­sign color and for their hos­pi­tal­ity value. Pendle­ton blan­kets from Bed, Bath & Be­yond are stars along with cus­tom-de­signed pil­lows. There are enough blan­kets in each area that any­one en­joy­ing the out­doors at the farm­house can snug­gle up and stay awhile.

They wanted to keep the orig­i­nal lap sid­ing, but it was “frag­ile,” Chris­tine says. “So what we did was take the same width for the lap sid­ing, painted it the ex­act same shade of white, and we didn’t fill in the

nail holes” so as to match the orig­i­nal.

Or­chard Hill Farm is well-equipped for en­ter­tain­ing. The kitchen and liv­ing room lead out through French doors to a cov­ered out­door seat­ing area, and then to an out­door din­ing area. With sturdy metal fur­ni­ture and a large Saber Grill, the Bridgers can...

Could it get any co­zier? El­e­gant, rustic and invit­ing, this out­door seat­ing area fea­tures a her­ring­bone brick floor and plenty of seat­ing “to en­joy a glass of wine or cup of tea.” Guests can snug­gle up and look out over the or­chard, lis­ten to mu­sic...

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