Hol­i­day Inn


Traditional Home - - Contents -

It’s “come one, come all” at a Florida cou­ple’s lake­side va­ca­tion home in Michi­gan, de­signed by Tom Stringer.

Snowflakes fall gen­tly out­side the win­dow as friends and fam­ily con­gre­gate by a crack­ling fire. Sto­ries and laugh­ter echo the good cheer ra­di­ated by homey or­na­ments and twin­kling lights. The ro­mance of the sea­son is so tan­gi­ble, you can al­most hear Bing Crosby croon­ing “White Christ­mas.” Like the pro­pri­etors of a mem­o­rable re­sort, Amy and Gary Nor­cross wanted their va­ca­tion home on Wal­loon Lake, Michi­gan—ap­pro­priately dubbed Hol­i­day Inn—to ex­ude a gra­cious wel­come to ev­ery­one they host, es­pe­cially at Christ­mas. Orig­i­nally from Arkansas and now res­i­dents of Jack­sonville, Florida, Gary and Amy bring their South­ern hos­pi­tal­ity to each place they call home.

“We love as­cend­ing the road here, see­ing the trees cov­ered in snow and Christ­mas lights,” Amy says. “It’s like an old movie—that’s why we call it Hol­i­day Inn. We know a great cel­e­bra­tion is to come.”

The Nor­crosses’ affin­ity for Michi­gan stems from Gary’s child­hood sum­mers here. A sec­ond home on Wal­loon Lake made sense. Gary’s mother lives in her own re­treat on the op­po­site side of the lake. And now the Nor­cross chil­dren have one sin­gle place that they know as home. “We moved a lot for Gary’s job,” Amy says. “Our kids have lived in dif­fer­ent places, but they al­ways know Wal­loon Lake. We wanted a per­ma­nent foot­print here, a place where ev­ery­one would gather.”

Ar­chi­tect Gary Nance, cel­e­brated through­out the Mid­west for his lake cot­tage de­signs, carved out all of Amy and Gary’s wishes on the prop­erty they bought. In ad­di­tion to the main house, a guest­house and a hobby barn of­fer spa­ces for the fam­ily to watch movies, play pool, and house Gary’s an­tique cars. Af­ter six months of plan­ning, Nance ad­vised the Nor­crosses to hire a de­signer to tackle the in­te­ri­ors. Most of the tear sheets that Amy pulled were projects by Chicago-based de­signer Tom Stringer—whom the cou­ple hired.

“My own va­ca­tion home is 45 min­utes away, so I un­der­stood Amy and Gary and what they wanted,” Stringer says. “I’m a big believer in multi­gen­er­a­tional homes. Some fam­i­lies ar­range a time share and divvy up the time. I think that a fam­ily home should ac­com­mo­date ev­ery­one at once. That’s what keeps fam­i­lies to­gether. Amy and Gary felt the same way, so we knew our work to­gether would be a good fit.”

Tear sheets in tow, Amy pro­vided Stringer with a few di­rec­tives that in­spired his vi­sion for an en­vi­ron­ment that the ex­tended Nor­cross fam­ily will en­joy for years to come.

Or­der num­ber one: the pal­ette. With a no-apol­ogy at­ti­tude about her yearn­ing for red (she ad­mits that it’s driven by her Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas roots), Amy wanted the hot hue strewn through­out the in­te­ri­ors. It’s a per­fect foil come Christ­mas­time when the house is be­decked in hol­i­day adorn­ments. Then there was blue. Amy prefers it in a strong value. Stringer’s chal­lenge was to blend the two colors in a so­phis­ti­cated way.

Red fur­ni­ture pushes the liv­ing room to ra­di­ate a fes­tive com­plex­ion. An­chored by a gran­ite field­stone fire­place with barn-style doors that dis­guise a TV, the space boasts com­fort­able chairs up­hol­stered in red fab­ric. In a shade that mim­ics Santa’s suit, looseweave wicker chairs at the game ta­ble in­tro­duce tex­ture.

Blue’s quiet role in the liv­ing room—on pil­lows and a chair—takes a bold turn as the house pro­gresses. A white kitchen is elec­tri­fied by a cobalt is­land that tran­si­tions the kitchen to the din­ing room and is coura­geous with­out be­ing out­ra­geous. A sim­i­lar shade shows up in­side the game room book­cases, where knotty pine was stained a blue­berry shade. It’s en­hanced by light blue chairs around the ta­ble.

The din­ing room wall nods to the liv­ing room’s field­stone fire­place. Rush-seat din­ing chairs cir­cle a ta­ble that ex­pands to seat up­wards of 20. When crowds gather, eight chairs from Amy’s ware­house of fur­ni­ture good­ies in­ter­min­gle. En­ter rule num­ber two: heir­looms.

Amy and Gary have al­ways kept trea­sures that are mean­ing­ful to the fam­ily. A stor­age unit filled with heir­looms was like Santa’s


—de­signer Tom Stringer

work­shop to Stringer, who pulled fam­ily pieces that help make his in­te­ri­ors in­ti­mate and real.

“There has to be an emo­tional con­nec­tion,” Stringer says. “And that only comes through fa­mil­iar­ity to some of the ob­jects. A house is not home un­til there is a story at­tached to it.”

Amy checked off her fi­nal req­ui­site—flo­ral-pat­tern fab­ric—in the mas­ter bed­room, where it hangs as draperies. Other be­d­rooms were made cozy and happy, in­clud­ing a blue bunk room with painted red beds. The bunk room was set into mo­tion by Amy, who hopes that grand­chil­dren are not too far in the fu­ture.

The Nor­crosses now spend sum­mers and win­ter hol­i­days in Michi­gan, and while both sea­sons load their mem­ory banks with great sto­ries, some­thing ex­tra-spe­cial sur­rounds Christ­mas.

“We al­ready have mem­o­ries here,” Amy says. “My son-in-law asked for my daugh­ter’s hand here. We laugh un­til we cry, and as soon as you pull into the drive­way, your shoul­ders drop. There’s no to-do list like in our main house. Here, it’s about what book am I go­ing to read next. This will al­ways be our home.”

Ar­chi­tect: Gary Nance In­te­rior de­signer: Tom Stringer

Fam­ily Gary and Amy Nor­cross with their fam­ily: Kathryn, Wil­liam, John Adam, and Gold­en­doo­dle Honey. Liv­ing room Above an old Wind­sor chair hangs a por­trait from Gary’s child­hood home. A pair of red chairs with a loose wicker weave add tex­ture and a happy check pat­tern. Ex­te­rior The wel­com­ing Michi­gan va­ca­tion house, de­signed by ar­chi­tect Gary Nance, was com­pleted in 2014. Pre­ced­ing page The foyer, which is more like a glass-box breeze­way con­nect­ing the mas­ter suite to the rest of the house, is paved with bricks and lined with French doors on both sides.

Din­ing room Blue-and-white vases clus­ter on the ta­ble and mesh with the cush­ions on chairs from Jonathan Charles. Kitchen With fresh green­ery and shots of red, the kitchen is home base to hol­i­day culi­nary fa­vorites in­clud­ing Amy’s corn­bread dress­ing and daugh­ter Kathryn’s pe­can pies. The blue-painted is­land stores ac­cou­trements for en­ter­tain­ing.

Mas­ter bed­room A four-poster with turned de­tail­ing is topped with Ma­touk linens and crowned with Christ­mas green­ery. “I tem­pered the pal­ette so it would not in­ter­rupt the beau­ti­ful view out the win­dow,” de­signer Tom Stringer says. Guest bed­room Sim­ple greens give a fes­tive touch to a hand­some guest space that’s wrapped in grass cloth from Seabrook.

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