Minimalism Meets Organic Modern in this Michigan Home

updated Oct 25, 2019

Minimalism Meets Organic Modern in this Michigan Home

updated Oct 25, 2019
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Name: Jesse David Green and Cali Green with Henry (4) and Penelope (2), as well as Winston (goldendoodle) and Fletcher (maltese-shih tzu)
Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Size: 1,250 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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The Green family calls beautiful West Village, Detroit home full-time, but are also lucky to have this incredible slice of heaven in Traverse City, Michigan, to enjoy about a week a month or so, sometimes more in the winter. Jesse is a professional photographer, while Cali is a designer. The time spent in this minimal Michigan home-away-from-home no doubt feeds the couple’s creative spirits.

Jesse shares more about the “serendipitous story” of this house: “We live full-time in Detroit and had started to spend quite a bit of time in Traverse City and the surrounding areas due to my job as a wedding and commercial photographer. I was booking more and more work up that way, and in 2014 I had booked a span of three weeks with back-to-back weddings. We heard about a house from a photographer friend (his dad had bought it as an investment property and alternated it between short term and long term renters for a few years). It happened to be open and furnished at the time and he rented it to us for a 24-day trip. It was spectacular; calm, serene, slow. Exactly what we needed with our first little one who was at the time just a few months old. It was extremely nautical themed at the time: seafoam walls, sailboats everywhere, upholstery made out of sail material, etc. (We’ve luckily rid the home of almost all of this except the anchors etched in the shutters that still remain until we do our full gut renovation of the outside.)

The next year we kept driving by the house and staring longingly at it and remembering how good those times were. We messaged the owner one of the times and simply said that if they ever decided to sell, to please let us know first. We didn’t even own our house in Detroit, we certainly weren’t on the hunt for a vacation property, but we figured this would be way down the line. He messaged me a couple of months later and said they were looking to retire and cash out, and wanted to know if we might be interested. We had no clue what we were doing, but we decided to run with our gut and do it, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We’ve almost entirely gut-renovated the interior and have done a lot of work outside (with a ton more to come) and it’s been one of the most amazing things for our family these last three years.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Mid-century modern with a very small touch of bohemian.

Inspiration: Relaxed, minimalistic, bright and white. We like to keep things comfortable and livable, and keep the focus on the huge bay windows facing the water.

Favorite Element: Of course, the Highlander Cow canvas in the living room. It’s such a statement piece.

Biggest Challenge: Undoing all of the previous “renovations” that had taken place throughout the house. We’ve had many major issues, from PVC glue not being used on most of the fittings (our master vanity sink was just draining into the crawl space), un-waterproofed shower pans, rotted subfloors, and more. The workmanship was extremely shoddy and we’ve had to un-do all of it as we’ve gone through the whole interior. We can finally breathe (mostly) easy when we walk through the doors, but the exterior still somewhat gives us hives. Someday soon…

What Friends Say: They’re blown away by the views and how comfortable everything is. They love the solace it provides, that we’re up above the road and only look at the water. They love seeing our bald eagle that lives on the property fly out and get his meals every day. Comfort and cleanliness and elevation of design is the bulk of our feedback, and we couldn’t ask for anything more.

Biggest Embarrassment: The exterior. We’ve got plans to completely re-side the house (maybe in black), all new deck and landscaping, paint the garage, etc. Just need the time/money to knock it out but it’ll finally be our full vision for the property realized when that happens.

Proudest DIY: Jesse and his dad stretched the highland cow tapestry over a wood frame they made, to create a “canvas” look. I couldn’t find a print or canvas size that big without breaking the bank, so this way it only cost about $50!

Biggest Indulgence: We kept everything pretty budget-friendly (furniture wise)—so I would have to say, the Article sofa in the living room. Otherwise—probably the appliances, ha!

Best Advice: Things take time. As designers, you have the full vision of your home realized in your head pretty quickly and it can be frustrating dealing with construction, saving up funds (we’ve done all of this with cash, not credit), and waiting for items to come in or for mistakes to be fixed. Be okay with that, be okay with living in something that isn’t 100 percent perfect (this house certainly never will be). Then just take the direction as close to your dream as you can within your parameters and run with it.

Dream Sources: We keep our sources fairly affordable, and don’t really want for too much more than that. But maybe some more expensive pieces from CB2, Room & Board, or Schoolhouse Electric, Rejuvenation at some point down the line would be fun.


Decorator’s White — Benjamin Moore

Sven Charme Sofa — Article
Arm Chairs — Target
Portrait of a Highland Cow Wall Tapestry — Society 6
Faux Marble Coffee Table — Amazon
Tribal Area Rug — World Market (No longer available)
Throw Pillows — Target

Dining Table — Wall Woodworking
Dining Chairs — World Market
Stendig Calendar — Hugh
Globe Pendant Light — West Elm (No longer available)
Bench Cushion — Custom made with Crypton Fabric (Heather Fabric in the color Sangria)

Cabinets — Hygge Supply
Faucet — Delta
Sink — Top Zero
Appliances — Bosch
Scones — CB2
Hardware — Rejuvenation

Bed frame — Amazon
Dresser — Vintage
Rug — Target (No longer available)
Shelves — Urban Outfitters
Shibori Throw Pillow — Urban Outfitters (No longer available)
Crocheted Throw Pillow — Target (No longer available)
Sconces — World Market
Wall Hanging — Target (No longer available)
Eye Chart Print — Nest Detroit

Shower Head — Delta
Sink — Vigo
Vanity — Custom Made
Faucet — Delta
Mirror — Target
Towel Bar — Urban Outfitters (No longer available)
Black and White Tribal Rug — Cali’s Boutique Traverse City
Black Framed Shower Enclosure — Home Depot

Vanity — West Elm dresser
Grid Shower Curtain — Urban Outfitters (No longer available)
Palm Leaf Wallpaper — Etsy
Sink — Vigo
Faucet — Delta
Shower Head/Bath Faucet — Delta

Navy Area Rug — Target
Sniglar Crib — IKEA
Striped Throw Pillow — Urban Outfitters (No longer available)
Faux Fur Pillow — World Market (No longer available)
Nautical Flag — Vintage
Animal Prints — Society 6

Nockeby Sofa(s) — IKEA
Coffee Table — Vintage
Desk — Vintage
Pull Down Map — Vintage

Thanks, Jesse and Cali!

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