A Creative Transforms Her 2000's-era House into a Chic Exemplar of Tradition

A Creative Transforms Her 2000's-era House into a Chic Exemplar of Tradition

May 24, 2024

Michelle Adams has cast her creative eye toward plenty of taste-making projects in her career, as co-founder and editor-in-chief of Lonny, the cult-favorite online shelter magazine, and as former shop owner behind The Maryn, the thoughtfully curated home boutique. Yet her latest chapter has her training her gaze closer to home, toward the renovation of her own Southeast Michigan abode. Dating to the early 2000s, the home’s renovation demanded of Michelle a focus that positions timelessness, not trendiness, as its central goal.

She sat down with Hunter Douglas to chat about design leftovers from the early aughts, designers who inspire her, and how using the right shades can transform the light — and the mood — in a home.

Provenance Woven Wood Shades, Fabric: Glace  Color: Carmel and a Designer Roller Shade in Fabric: Palmer  Color: Iced Slate

Tell us about your home. Why did you initially choose this house? When did you start renovating?

We started renovating our home in May of 2022 and made a tremendous amount of changes. We moved in in June and lived in the basement for a full year during renovations! We created a full vault in the living room, built a chimney and added a fireplace, designed a new kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry, and updated the facade as well.

Although I wasn't a fan of the home aesthetically when we purchased it, I loved that it was only 20 years old, solidly built, and that it didn't need any structural work, allowing me to simply focus on updating the design. The high ceilings throughout the home gave it an open and airy feel, and offered ample opportunity to add character with trim and transoms. Additionally, the property came with a large barn in pristine condition and a rather dreamy lot in a peaceful country setting. Lots to work with!

Your house sounds like it was, before your renovation, a relic of the 2000s! Share your approach to the redesign. What was your jumping off point?

I started by changing the home architecturally to make it look classic and timeless. This meant removing its 1990s timestamps! Uneven drywall, little to no symmetry, honey colored floors and trim, mauve walls, maple cabinets, a diagonal whirlpool tub — basically every major 1990s design trend was packed into our early 2000s home and had to be removed.

Provenance® Woven Wood Shades  Fabric: Auckland  Color: Kiwi

Our living room is where we watch TV the most though, so having shades to block reflection was important.

Provenance® Woven Wood Shades  Fabric: Auckland  Color: Kiwi

Provenance® Woven Wood Shades  Fabric: Charleston  Color: Lantern Glow

Provenance® Woven Wood Shades  Fabric: Auckland  Color: Kiwi

Heritance® Hardwood Shutters in Driftwood and Pirouette® Window Shadings   Fabric: Satin  Color:  Metallic Wish

Provenance Woven Wood Shades, Fabric: Glace  Color: Carmel and a Designer Roller Shade in Fabric: Palmer  Color: Iced Slate

Were there certain interior designers who inspired you along the way? Whose work played a role in your approach?

I studied classical architect Gil Schafer's books on architecture and design to get ideas for adding classic trim work, transoms above main entrances, symmetry, fireplaces, bath fixtures, timeless hardware, lighting, and so on. I also looked to one of my favorite interior designers, the late Sandy Gallin who was known for his signature look: bright white walls, darkly stained wood floors (almost black!), white slipcovered upholstery, and woven wood window shades. His work heavily inspired the palette of our home, and made me super excited to use Hunter Douglas Provenance® Woven Wood Shades throughout [the house].

From a decorating standpoint, I mainly just design my homes with the pieces I already own and love: Lots of vintage and antique finds, textiles from all over the world, art that I've collected over the years, books, and so on. The look is sort of coastal and European in feel. [And] my kitchen was heavily inspired by Ina Garten's kitchen, on her TV show. She's brilliant!

Provenance Woven Wood Shades, Fabric: Glace  Color: Carmel and a Designer Roller Shade in Fabric: Palmer  Color: Iced Slate

Tell us a bit about the light in the house. How did you use window coverings to change or enhance the natural light? Were there any lighting challenges?

I'm attracted to bright, sunny homes, so we added a large window in the living room to highlight the view and bring in more light. Our living room is where we watch TV the most though, so having shades to block reflection was important. In the bedroom, we added shades with an attached liner since I'm very sensitive to light when I sleep, and it's been wonderful having something that I can easily close before bed to block our outdoor lighting. Our shades have PowerView® Automation and we were delighted that the remote open and close feature still worked when we lost power for several days during a recent winter storm.

In the bedroom, we added shades with an attached liner since I'm very sensitive to light when I sleep, and it's been wonderful having something that I can easily close before bed to block our outdoor lighting.

Provenance Woven Wood Shades, Fabric: Glace  Color: Carmel and a Designer Roller Shade in Fabric: Palmer  Color: Iced Slate

Is there a particular space in your home that’s benefited from window coverings?

In our primary bath, the NewStyle® Hybrid Shutters have been a game changer. The Hunter Douglas team designed them to close on the bottom — where my neighbors can see into our home — and remain open on the top, to let in sunlight during the day. At night, I can fully close the shutters as well. They are the perfect solution, and also add that classic and timeless look I was after.

The Hunter Douglas team designed them to close on the bottom — where my neighbors can see into our home — and remain open on the top, to let in sunlight.

Provenance Woven Wood Shades, Fabric: Glace  Color: Carmel and a Designer Roller Shade in Fabric: Palmer  Color: Iced Slate

Speaking of windows, the views from your house seem exquisite!

The views of our property are spectacular, which is one of the key reasons we purchased this home. Our neighborhood backs up to a wetland area that can't be built on, so we can see endless trees and wildlife from our north-facing windows. Having lived in several densely populated neighborhoods in the past, it's been a really nice change to look out most windows and see uninterrupted nature.

Want to see even more of Michelle’s design work? Take a tour of her airy, four-bedroom Lake Michigan residence, which dates back to the 1890s, featured here with an inside look she shared with Frederic last year. Interested in gleaning more style tips from Michelle, and her new Lonny team? Be sure to follow them on Instagram to get inspired for your next home refresh.

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