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The Fifth House - The Inspiration

In my last post I talked about our move to Holland, Michigan and our decision to build, rather than buy, a house. I have been collecting images of interiors, exteriors, landscaping, paint colors, etc. since I graduated college and maybe before. I have five binders worth of images I have torn out of magazines over the years divided by category and now I probably have more than enough images to rival my binders saved on Instagram. Needless to say, I have always wanted to build my own house and, of course, to decorate anything I can get my hands on!

We decided to build the house on a lot that our builder owned. The majority of land, in the entire area, offered lots that dropped down in the back so that a house could be constructed with a walk out basement. We did not want that so we were in search of a more level piece of land. Our builder owned several lots in a somewhat secluded section of a newer neighborhood. His entire section was still undeveloped. One of the lots was at the end of a cul-de-sac, bordered a farm, and did not drop down in the back yard. This is the lot we chose.

I designed the house to have a farmhouse feel on the exterior so that it would look at home with the farmland around it. We wanted the house to have a front porch and to have white clapboard siding. We did not want shutters. We wanted a breezeway to the detached garage, initially open and then we decided it would be better to enclose it due to the harsh winters in the area. We wanted the garage to be sided with cedar shake and to have a cupola on top, almost looking like a barn itself. We wanted the roof to be metal.

Here are some inspiration photos for the exterior:

Design by Nicola's Home and Photograph by Jeff Roberts Imaging. I love the mixture of the white siding, cedar shake, and black metal roof.

Source unknown, from a magazine picture I clipped. This was inspiration for an open breezeway.

Source unknown for this too.... This photo was inspiration for a closed breezeway.

We wanted to put a pool in the backyard too. Here is an arial plan that we gave to pool companies to use for their estimates:

Moving on to the the interior! I wanted the inside of the house to feel welcoming and bright. I wanted pine floorboards throughout the majority of the first and second floor. I waned to use a more neutral paint palette and add simple paneling in many parts of the house for texture. I wanted tall ceilings, providing a feeling of spaciousness while the furniture and decorating provided a feeling of coziness at the same time - if that makes sense. I wanted cool, unique light fixtures. I wanted a house that gave you a hug when you walked in.

Following are some inspiration photos for the overall feel that I was going for with the house.


I wanted to use the table we used as our kitchen table when we first moved to Grosse Pointe, the same table we had purchased as our desk for the third floor office/playroom in Chevy Chase, as the entryway table. I wanted to have a tile or brick herringbone floor and I wanted double doors with 3/4 lites as our front doors.


The stairwell was designed to be in the center of the great room and would be a focal point on its own just with the expanse of it, therefore, I wanted it to be constructed with simple parts - wood treads to match the floors and the rest just painted white.


I love the light fixtures over the shelves and I love a library that looks well used!

Another magazine image that I do not have the source for.

Great Room Fireplace

I purchased small 2"x 2" antique blue and white tiles when we lived in Chevy Chase with the thought of installing them behind the range. Since I found out we were moving soon after I purchased them, I decided to keep them with me and wait for the right time to use them in the future. When designing the fireplace for this house, I counted out the tiles to determine the square footage I could cover and measured out the fireplace opening to be sure I could use them as the surround. It was the perfect use for them!

Image from One Kings Lane


I knew I wanted a dark navy island with white perimeter cabinets and beams on the ceiling. These two images were great inspiration!


Our mudroom was not large so I knew I wanted to keep it simple and durable. I wanted to have herringbone tile or brick flooring in here too, to match the entryway flooring.

Upstairs Hall Bath

I knew I wanted to mix a "statement tile" on the back wall of the tub/shower in the upstairs hall bath with simple subway tile on the side walls.

Laundry Room

I ripped this picture out of a magazine years ago and ever since have loved the idea of having a glass door as the entry into a laundry room. I couldn't wait to incorporate it in this house!

Another magazine picture that I do not have the source for!

Basement Bath

I love the look of paneling in a bathroom, a great way to add interest to an underused bathroom without the expense of tile.

I have an entire binder of inspiration pictures for the design and build of this house. These images give you an idea without the overload (hopefully). It was fun and challenging to work on the interior design of this house. I called it the "Land of Pocket Doors" because as I was trying to get the most use out of every inch of space, pocket (and barn) doors were the VIPs in that endeavor!

I could see the house, I was living in the house, in my head and couldn't wait for it to become a reality.

In the next post I will talk about my "dream" design versus reality. I hope you're as excited to see it as I was to work on it!

Thank you for joining me in reviewing the beginning steps of the design,





Hi, I’m Kerry, a true lover of all things home design.  Thank you for stopping by to check in on the journey.  Please feel free to reach out to me, I love to talk design!

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