Christine & John’s Breezy Ann Arbor Ranch

updated Jun 5, 2019
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Name: Christine and John and Gertie the dog
Professions: Christine is an art teacher and John, also an artist, is studying to be a nurse. They also run an Etsy shop, Poison Iceberg
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Size: 960 square feet, owned
Years lived in: 2 1/2; owned

While flipping through this year’s Small, Cool contest entries, I came across Christine’s Perfect Location. Intrigued by the thoughtful color palette and playful artwork, I knew this calm and cheerful home deserved more than just a quick overview.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Luckily, Christine and John were gracious enough to open up their home for all of us to have a closer look. The couple has worked tirelessly to rehab the 1950’s ranch from near destruction, turning it into the lively home it is today.

Most impressive is Christine and John’s use of space. The home is balanced by rooms that serve double (or even triple!) duty with ones that are spacious and airy, staying true to a single role. The bedroom is spare, which drives home the purpose of the room; to be a relaxing, calm space for resting. This is in contrast to the dining room, which is not only a place to enjoy fantastic dinners, it is also an inviting den. I can easily picture spending a fun evening of cooking, eating and watching a movie, all within this cozy and highly organized space. The office/guest room/art studio also serves many purposes, maximizing every square inch of space, cultivating an atmosphere of activity and spirit. The equilibrium of Christine and John’s home illustrates the quiet strength of a life well-lived.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Mid-century meets breezy meets weird. We like the design and size of mid-century furnishings. However, we don’t want to have our house era-perfect. We like things to feel easy and fun. We balance our “serious” pieces with fun colors and lots of art.

Inspiration: 50’s homes, the color wheel, wind and water, John’s paintings.

Favorite Element: We love that our home feels homey. While we want our house to have good design, but we also want it to feel like a place you can relax and be comfortable. I believe we have achieved this objective in our design choices.

Biggest Challenge: The way our house is laid out proves difficult in decorating. The heating vents and cold air returns are in the most inconvenient places. Also, it was challenging to lay out our rooms and still maintain an open feeling and delineated areas for walking from room to room.

What Friends Say: Our friends think our house is “airy” and clean (which is always amazing to me). We hear that it is very comfortable and homey and no one comes to our house without commenting on the art!

Biggest Embarrassment: The bathroom. The walls are covered with a vinyl-clad masonite. It is just not in our budget to redo the bathroom right now, so we just put up with it.

Proudest DIY: The kitchen. We removed cupboards, hung shelves, replaced the counter-top and changed the cabinet fronts. We did it all ourselves and on the cheap! We are very proud of it because it was a dingy, filthy, scary room when we moved in and now it is bright, open and cheerful!

Biggest Indulgence: The Danish Modern china cabinet/display case. We bought it right after we bought the house because I thought having a china cabinet was a very grown-up thing to have in my first house.

Best Advice: Put things in your house that you love and you love to look at and you’ll always be happy there. While it is fine to collect furniture from specific designers or only to buy things from a certain era, I like to keep my options open. Keep your eyes and your mind open at flea markets and consignment shops and you might be surprised at what speaks to you.

Dream Sources: Pee-Wee’s playhouse if it was featured in Atomic Ranch. Keep it weird while keeping it simple and uncluttered.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:

Living Room

    • Paint: Benjamin Moore Icing on the Cake (we had it mixed half-strength, so it is 50% less vivid)
    • Couch: Corona Sofa from Macy’s
    • Rug: Crate and Barrel
    • China Cabinet, side tables, Jen’s Risom table: Treasure Mart (furniture consignment), Ann Arbor
    • Coffee table and side chair: Craig’s list
    • Arm Chair: ebay
    • Cushions on Arm chair: Custom Cushions for cheap at Cushions Xpress
    • Loveseat: Hand-me down from John’s cousin Amanda (it is part of a sectional that we will reupholster as soon as we can afford it)
    • Entry Table: Stockholm table from Ikea
    • Curtains: Ikea
    • Vases: CB2, Crate and Barrel
    • Art: Paintings by John, stencil of John by our friend, Erin, wooden angel from Mexico, wooden face in bookshelf by local artist Tim Pewe.

Dining Room/Den

    • Paint: Benjamin Moore Yellow Haze and White Vanilla

    • Couch: Cost Plus World Market
    • Rug: Crate and Barrel
    • Table: St. Vincent De Paul
    • Chairs: Craigslist
    • Side Table: St. Vincent DePaul
    • Pillows: Ikea
    • TV Cupboard: Treasure Mart
    • Cement Gnome: Architectural Artifacts, Chicago
    • Tiny Masks from the Peaceable Kingdom in Ann Arbor
    • Art: Most paintings by John, Grandpa print by me, Heads painting from St. Vincent DePaul, Ice cream prints by Yee-Haw Industries, Squirrel by Ryan Berkley, Poppies print by Jill Bliss


    • Paint: Benjamin Moore Horizon

    • Cupboard doors: Naked Kitchen Cabinet Doors
    • Free standing counter/cupboard: Udden, Ikea
    • Island/shelf: Ikea
    • Art: Paintings of Gertie, bread and grapefruit by me, ceramic cat plaque by a 5 year-old John, Hello, Also I Love You, by the big harrumph, bird tray from Ikea
    • Lots of colorful Pyrex: the Treasure Mart and various antiques stores


    • Paint: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

    • Bed: Hand me down from John’s grandpa
    • Quilt: Target
    • John’s dresser: Malm, Ikea
    • My dresser: Antique from John’s mom
    • John’s bedside table: Treasure Mart
    • Black Chair: Eames shell chair from my sister, Carrie (!)
    • Art: Paintings by John, wooden angel from Mexico

Office/Guest Room

    • Paint: Benjamin Moore Horizon
    • Book shelves: Ikea
    • Pillows: Ikea and CB2
    • Mirrors: Target
    • Chairs and Magnet Board: Ikea
    • Beatles Poster: John’s dad
    • Skulls from Mexico via the Peaceable Kingdom in Ann Arbor
    • Vintage fan and globe
    • Masks in computer closet from Mexico
    • Art: Our wedding painting by John, prints by me, Alf kissing guy by Johnny Ryan

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Christine and John!

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