From the Grand Rapids Magazine June 2018 issue. Available on newsstands now or via subscription.
While others designing their dream home envision open floor plans, vaulted ceilings and that longed-for room designated solely for their hobby, landscape designer Amy Squires did her dreaming a little differently: her perfect home began with planning landscapes and gardens, with the home built around them.
Windows will abound in Squires’ new home once construction is complete, optimizing views from all rooms to showcase the decorative grasses, Himalayan birch trees and native Michigan plants of which Squires is especially fond. Noting she loves to watch the movement of tall grasses like the ones she’s planned around her home, Squires said she and her husband are planning a prairie area within the rolling hills that frame their property.
“Our homestead is going to be all-encompassing,” Squires said. “We’re having a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, and my husband wants to (raise) bees. We want to have a prairie and flowers and wildlife, to preserve what was once there while still maintaining a contemporary lifestyle.”
For the ideal blend of nature and home, the Squireses chose Deidre Remtema, owner of Deidre Interiors, for their home’s interior design. Describing the fresh perspective of merging abode and nature, Remtema’s enthusiasm about Squires’ unique approach to designing a home from the outside in is crystal clear.
“I haven’t worked with a landscape (designer) before,” Remtema said. “Amy is so in tune with how the inside and the outside are working together. She’s very attracted to materials that reflect the outside — like large-scale flower motifs, branches, birds — and she’s incorporated that in a modern way I haven’t experienced with another client before. It’s been really fun.”
In keeping with the feel of nature inside the home, Remtema and Squires have worked together to choose colors, patterns, and décor reminiscent of the outdoors. The walls of the master bedroom will be covered in a lotus-leaf patterned wallpaper with a light fixture resembling a white puff of dandelion flower. The children’s bedroom walls will give the feel of being in a rose garden with a bold, floral pattern, and the library will enhance the natural ambiance with soft blues on walls, as well as the ceiling, creating a sky-like effect.
Having first selected limestone for the fireplace, Squires later opted for a warmer feel. Retaining her vision of using stone, she began looking at natural stone that also will be used outdoors.
“We really believe in natural materials,” Squires said. “When you have natural materials, you feel more in tune with your surroundings.
“We’re outdoor people so that just feels more at-home to us. Earth tones, softer tiles, nothing highly polished; borrowing blues from the sky and greens from the grass.”
The desire to blend indoors and outdoors resulted in a home design emphasizing the use of windows to maximize views — and, Squires admitted, to be able to keep an eye on her children when they’re playing outside, “so they don’t get into any trouble!”
Window placement was chosen to enhance the feeling of connectedness to nature, yet to also maximize the natural airflow through the house with the windows open. Use of natural light also was a consideration, especially in the kitchen and family room, where Squires said the family spends much of their time together.
“The whole back of the house is windows, especially on the main floor,” Remtema said. “The window frames are black. What I love about that choice is it helps to create a picture frame (around the view outside), like a piece of art with a picture frame.”
Because Squires wanted a contemporary yet European feel to the home, the black framing of the windows was eased into some exterior fencing as well as light fixtures Remtema chose for the interior, saying they worked to be conscious of working details in the architecture in the interior space.
Squires’ love for baking was cause for special care in designing a kitchen with outdoor access. Noting her excitement about a coveted 10 feet of counter space on the kitchen island, a “quick walk-out” was a requisite, making it possible to pick vegetables or cut herbs for her culinary creations. She also has a flower garden with flowers to cut and bring in the house planned for the area outside the kitchen, after all, one can never have too much of outdoors, indoors.