A Layered Look
Dress up your rustic home with a carefully curated mix of custom pieces, antiques and collectibles just like these handy homeowners did in their Indiana cabin.
Create a rustic look with a mix of custom pieces, antiques and collectibles just like a pair of handy Hoosiers did in their cabin.
Pared-down prim with a little Colonial thrown in for good measure is how Debbie Blink describes the style she likes in her Cedar Lake, Indiana, home. “I always say I wanted it to look like the farmer got some money,” she says with a laugh. “I like prim, but I like it a little cleaned up and dressed up.”
That means the 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom home Debbie and her husband, Tom, built more than 30 years ago is a simplified mix of old and new. “I don’t have all old things, but there are a lot mixed in,” she explains. Instead, she opts for newer, custom-made and highly functional storage and furniture pieces in the kitchen and bedrooms, adding vintage accents throughout the rest of her home for both personality and old-fashioned flavor.
Situated on 7 acres less than an hour from Chicago, the house was inspired by log cabins the couple had admired in Indiana’s picturesque Brown County. The avid do-it-yourselfers designed and built the house and the adjacent “little cabin” and raised their family—three now-grown children—there. Since then, they’ve happily added six grandchildren to the mix.
“We had a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old at the time we built the house,” Debbie remembers, adding that it was less than complete when they moved in. “It was crazy. We had built a home before, but this was a whole different ball game.”
The couple knew they wanted it to be their forever house, so they took their time getting the cabin just right, paying attention to every detail and doing all the work themselves. “There isn’t one part of the house we didn’t touch,” Debbie says. She credits Tom with being a talented carpenter and builder, the evidence of which is apparent in the house itself as well as many of the furnishings inside.
In fact, Debbie still has the first piece Tom made her—a small candle box— in their bedroom. Items filled with personal meaning, and with treasured stories behind them, can be found throughout the house, and Debbie says they are what make her house a home.
“I can tell you the day we bought most of the antiques,” she recalls, adding that she doesn’t consciously collect anything but admits to having a soft spot for pewter. The couple enjoy traveling to New England on buying trips, and they cite the Brimfield antiques show and Walker Homestead as favorite pilgrimages. The oldest item they have, a 1700s-era rocker, was bought in Massachusetts.
The Blinks have passed their love of the heirloom, handcrafted and homemade down to their children. Tom taught the boys to dovetail wood, and two of the couple’s three children have switched to a similar decorating style. Debbie’s signature layered look has been featured on an area home tour and during the craft shows the couple once held on their property.
It all comes down to one piece of decorating advice: “New or old, buy what you love,” she advises. “For us, it’s all about the mix. It just feels right.”