Memorial House Style: Rustic-Art-Somethingorother

As a general rule, I spend my time here talking about projects, and I expect that if you use any bit of my advice at all it’s to take what I’ve done and make it your own. Which is why I very rarely talk about the style of things, unless it’s to say Internet, please help me pick out the color of this room before I start pulling out chunks of my hair.

For far too long “style” – both of my person and my house- has consisted of sawdust, dirty jeans, and half-empty paint cans.

Listen, it’s cohesive, if not appealing.

We have not even begun to enter the “plywood and plastic tarp” phase of decoration at Memorial, which would make you think talking about things like the style of trim in the great room would be getting a little ahead of ourselves, but already decisions about wood and stain and window casing and wall texture are rearing their ugly head.

Really? The room doesn’t even exist yet, and already I need to start picking out paint swatches? Awesome.

Obviously you need to know about any of the hard-coded features of a room– like wood beams or stone trim– before you actually build it. We’re not quite at the paint-swatch stage yet, but it’s time to start really narrowing down what our home will look like, which means I have to get my head outta the sawdust and back in the style-game.

What I can tell you is this:

Not. It.

Aesthetically I like the room, and I may even want to try building that coffee table just for fun once, but this is not a space I could live in. Particularly not in winter. Living in Michigan is already close enough to living inside a giant ice cube, thankyouverymuch.

On the other end of the spectrum, this is also missing the mark:

Something like these make a little more sense:

But I still feel a little “blah” looking at them. I like character with my color and a little old-school charm to contrast with clean lines.

In the past I’ve referenced timber frame homes as having the structural bones we want to see in our house, including wood ceilings and exposed beams.

Like the Lakeview House by Locati Architects:

But the timberframe look isn’t exactly what we’re going for. It has the rustic elements down, but why does everything need to be neutrals and wrought iron?

One of my aunts lives in a fabulous house on a lake, and she was the first person I heard use the words “rustic” and “elegant” together. I love the idea…

Although elegant isn’t a word MysteryMan or I would use to describe ourselves. We’re too functional (and at least one of us is too quirky) for the term to apply.

The kitchen on Garrison is based on the Arts & Crafts style, which has many of the elements I like, but the rules of this style are a little to rigid for my taste.

So a little rustic, a little tuscan, some arts-and-crafts, with casual elegance thrown in for good measure? Are you even allowed to do that?  No wonder the word “paint swatch” gives me a compulsive urge to bang my head on the desk.

The problem is I know what I want and there isn’t a name for it. Luckily, I’m a DIYer, which means I do as I like, regardless of the rules. I’m coming up with a new style here, and its called What I Like.

The first of many idea boards meant to help refine the look of the interior of our house:

[swfobj src=”” width=”600″ height=”450″ align=”center”]

(If you don’t have a flash player to view the interactive board, you can see the static image here.)

I’m not sure what the palette of the Memorial Style will be, but for now I’m focusing on a mix of old wood, glass, stone and warm metals.

I’ll be updating the Memorial Style page (under The Roost) with idea boards, materials, and colors as they make the final cut.

So, tell me, do you all stick to a specific style? A specific store? Or have you created your own What I Like styles for your home?

12 Responses

  1. We’re quasi – traditional – farmhousey – naturey – quality… so yes, I guess we’ve got our own “What I like” style. We also like hand-me-downs and tend to build ideas around them. We’ve been offered a couple of stained glass windows (that we’ll use in the interior somewhere), and a piece of an old pulpit (i think) that we’ll disassemble and reassemble to use the textures somewhere.

    I tend to like sky colors, fall colors, rock colors, nature textures… I intend to bring them into my home somehow… my internal idea board is difficult to extract from my mind though…

    Looking forward to following your progress!

  2. I love all your picks. The coffee table in the first photo is amazing, I would totally go for it. That kitchen is my cup of tea, but like you, I can’t adhere to one set of rooms. We are very simple, functional, but also eclectic in our styles. We couldn’t put a name on it if we tried. 🙂 But that is the good part, after all, a home is about the people who live there!

    Can’t wait to see how your rooms progress.

  3. Sticking to one particular style or store is too boring & rigid for us. I’m sure someone could define our style but, when you’re on the inside looking out, it’s a little more complicated. We like found objects, things with a story, pieces that are functional, useful, & practical, vintage items and especially things we make ourselves. I would hate for someone to come into our home and think “Pottery Barn Spring 2009” or even just “Crate & Barrel” or “IKEA”. I don’t want our home to look like anyone’s except ours. Different is good.

  4. We also looking forward to building our dream home – in the rustic elegance style that you are looking for.   The home we’ve chosen is the Lakeview Cottage by Garrell & Associates.   I’ve included a couple links in case they inspire you.   
  – The house on the main page (one is wood, the other painted blue/green) is what we’re going for.  


    1. Did you ever build the lakeview Cottage? We are looking at this plan also and just wanted any tips you may offer.

  5. I love this post.

    Except we’re leaning towards craftsman inspired (trim, doors, cabinet style but lighter color) but I can’t stand how uncomfortable the chairs are. Our big flat house has no style but it isn’t too far from the prairie style which is semi-common in our area since Frank Lloyd Wright lived nearby.

    It’s never too early to consider future design features especially ones that affect lots of rooms. Trim/door color vs. wood floor color vs. woven blind color. I love woven blinds and how versatile they are. In some rooms we’ll just have the blinds and it other rooms we’re going to add curtains over the top (which can add some elegance depending on the fabric).

  6. I think my style is ‘modern traditional’. I like old houses, built ins, craftsman and colonial touches, but I also like simple lined furniture, non-fussy items and spare decorating. I pretty much do what is comfortable and clutter-free. I don’t like ‘tablescapes,’ items that aren’t really cool or really useful, and ‘filler’ in my rooms. I think you are going to create a wonderful space for yourselves!

  7. I like your ideas. The style of my home is “me”. We built in 2007 and the house itself is a bit prairie, a bit mission, and a bit farmhouse I suppose. The interior has a combination natural Maple / natural Cherry trim, very square. The floors are red birch, which is actually the heartwood of yellow birch, but has a cinnamon-colored glow and we love it. We have dog, cat, toddler, and muddy boot prints, that give the floor character and it holds up nicely. The colors in our house are warm, but vibrant and the furniture is almost all hand-me downs or garage sale purchases. We have some old stained glass windows flanking our fireplace and the weathervane from the barn that used to stand where our house stands now is mounted on the end of one of the vaulted ceilings. I love the history in our home, even though the house itseld is only three years old. I’d be happy to share some ideas and pictures of things we’ve done if you’re interested.

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