Casual Living

Informal elements create a carefree feel for your interiors.
Cottage Home Kitchen
Rustic touches in the kitchen create a warm, comfortable environment. // Photography courtesy of Cottage Home

Even since Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” fame made shiplap a household name, farmhouse style has become a mainstay in the casual living category. For those with a penchant for this particular aesthetic or any other rustic touches, there are plenty of ways to incorporate these features into your rooms.

Perhaps one of the most enchanting parts about the laidback look is that it makes everyone feel right at home with a warm environment that puts people at ease. Another benefit is that many of these touches are considered to be timeless.


According to Wendy Spoelhof, selections specialist at Cottage Home in Holland (, where they design and build well-appointed beach houses and cottages, there are many reasons why farmhouse style would be a good fit for those who live in these types of dwellings.

“Taking pieces of our history and architecture and incorporating them into a lakeshore home is very appealing and natural.”
— Wendy Spoelhof

“West Michigan is historically a farm community — especially along the lakeshore with blueberry, apple and cherry farms very prevalent,” she said. “Lake Michigan is and has been home to many cottages and summer homes for people from all over the country. Taking pieces of our history and architecture, and incorporating them into a lakeshore home is very appealing and natural.”

Farmhouse-style elements that are featured in one of their kitchen projects, also located in Holland, include an apron-front farmhouse sink and an eclectic mix of storage with traditional cabinets and open shelving. Hardwood floors ground a sizable island that Spoelhof said is reminiscent of a farmhouse-style dining table, while glass canister/Mason jar-type pendant lights shine from above.

Other farmhouse-inspired details include the soapstone and marble countertops and the stylish stove and range that act as a focal point for the kitchen.

For those who want to add a little farmhouse style to their own homes, Spoelhof has some suggestions. First, she recommends classic features like barn doors and double-hung windows. Natural materials, such as stone or slate and a light color palette also convey a more relaxed atmosphere. For a finishing touch, consider decorating with some vintage finds combined with a few floral fabrics or rugs.

A mix of metal and wood can create a more relaxed atmosphere. // Photography courtesy of Scott Shuptrine Interiors


Farmhouse style isn’t the only way to achieve that lived-in feel. As Nadine Hogan, design manager for Scott Shuptrine Interiors in Petoskey ( explained, “People up here tend to like casual living. We get a mix of requests from traditional to rustic elegance.

“Here on the lake, people like coastal looks and blues are still very popular. The trend has evolved a little more toward clean lines.”

People appreciate the pillows and rugs from Magnolia Home (by Joanna Gaines), Hogan said, because they have a lot of texture. Distressed pieces also can contribute to a casual vibe, like a dining set from Hooker Furniture that looks a little like driftwood.

Live-edge dining tables bring nature indoors, while window treatments can make a home look more coastal or casual with woven shades and wood shutters.

Accents like distressed ceramic lamps and those made from seagrass and twigs signal a relaxed setting, as do area rugs made from sisal and other natural materials. Artwork that depicts nature, from florals to wildlife, can have a calming effect, and historic black and white images of northern Michigan add some vintage charm to your surroundings.

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