The Bridgers reveal a dreamy symbiosis of indoors and out at their Michigan farmhouse.
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.
KEEPING IT REAL
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.
TAKE A SEAT
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 birchlane.com. 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.
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 and savor their “escape from busy city life and enjoy a breath
of fresh air,” Christine says.
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 entertain without having to bounce back and forth between indoors and out. With ample blankets and pillows, guests can enjoy the outdoors anytime.