Achieve everything on your renovation wish list
Orchard Hill Farm, the Michigan farmhouse the Bridgers have transformed, is now a dream home with loads of charm and integrity.
yourself unsexy, about foundational
According to Jon Faris of Paradigm Renovation, the wall siding isn’t shiplap since it was not intended to be exposed. Notice how the boards are a variety of widths. The Bridgers loved the character of it, however, and decided to leave it visible. When the Barnstormers Wood team installed the hardwood white ash floors, they imitated the approach by using varying widths in the floor.
|OPPOSITE| Given Michigan’s four-season climate, outdoor dining furniture needs to be sturdy. The Bridgers chose a dining set and pergola from Lowe’s that fit the bill.
we introduced you to the Bridgers and what then might have passed for a haunted house in Fennville, Michigan.
Since then, they have been hard at work doing what they do best: bringing their creativity to bear on a renovation that merges old with new in a coherent, charming whole.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
The living room and media room are the last finished spaces to appear in our pages, and these areas exemplify the Bridgers’ approach. They prioritized maintaining the original farmhouse as the heart of the renovated home. When they stripped “unfortunate era materials” left by the last owners, including “horrible shag carpet” and paneling, beautiful old wood siding was revealed. While it looks like shiplap, Christine says, “our builder says it’s not because it was never meant to
“We had an opportunity to have
design decisions inspired by the
It has such a sweet feel … unlike anything you see today because of roofline and window positioning.”
The heart of the home, the living room is a renovation of the original structure. The modern staircase and loft railings add contrast in both color and style.
be exposed.” But the Bridgers loved the texture and personality of the wood in its varying sizes, so they worked around it, opting to insulate with drywall on the outer walls so the exposed wood could stay untouched.
To echo the exposed siding on the walls, the ash wood floors from Barnstormers Wood are also varied in size. The Bridgers originally planned on staining the wood but decided instead to use a matte natural finish to allow the wood grain to show. The floor is one of Christine’s favorite features of the home.
Given the home’s idyllic location, the Bridgers did not want a TV in the living room. Instead, a sliding door separates the media room from the living room so that the TV is available but not obtrusive. The media room, too, has the original siding, even though Christine says, “we made the decision knowing we’d be vacuuming up paint chips.” Some things are worth the extra effort.
Now that the renovation is complete, Christine shares her favorite elements—and her biggest takeaway lesson. Christine reports she is “most happy with the design of the actual space and the connection between old and new.” In fact, when people visit, “they can’t really tell old from new.” The home has earned the respect and
interest of the neighborhood, and is actually a traffic problem sometimes, Christine says, because people come just to see the house. Christine is grateful for “an opportunity to have design decisions inspired by the original structure. It has such a sweet feel … unlike anything you see today because of roofline and window positioning.” Most of all, Christine says, she’s happy that this has become “a home that creates moments that bring you back to what matters,” offering an “escape from the hustle and bustle.”
Lessons learned? Christine explains the septic system presented their biggest learning experience. She and her husband, Gabe, didn’t know anything about septic tanks, including that they cause hard-water stains. They planted seed in their orchard, then realized they hadn’t considered irrigation, so they had to dig up the seed to install sprinklers. Then, Christine says, they “dug up the sprinklers to install the septic tank, then to install the water softener.” Learn from Christine’s mistakes with her hard-won advice: “Really educate yourself about unsexy, foundational elements. Understand how you’re going to use your home and whether the infrastructure can support it—for example, do you need a septic system that can support 22 people visiting rather than just two.”
On the whole, though, Christine says the process was “a designer’s dream.” She and her family relish the challenge and reward of projects like this. The home no one wanted because it was too much work, the land they’ve turned into an orchard, the new people and opportunities they’ve had as a result of this adventure—all of it is emblematic of an approach to life. Christine explains, “As human beings, we’re capable of so much more than we ever set out to achieve. It’s a great way to live.”
The TV is in a room especially reserved for movie nights, rather than the central living area. The sliding door allows conversation to continue in the adjoining living room.
For the Bridgers (left to right: Emelia, Christine, Gabe and Jenson), the renovation process and results are a family affair.