by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Four years ago, seeking to downsize our living space and simplify our lives, we had a new home built with some 500-square-foot less of finished living area than that of the large condo we previously owned. Yes, we chose to return to a private residence and all of the personal freedoms that one often gives up in a condominium community.
Having downsized and loving it, we began to believe we could have gone even smaller, so we were intrigued when we learned that a two-story 1,200-square-foot cottage-style home, including landscaping, was being built inside the cavernous DeVos Place exhibit hall. The home was being built in four whirlwind days to be the featured exhibit for the fourth annual 2010 Cottage & Lakefront Living Show that opened last Friday afternoon. We found ourselves first in line when the show opened its doors for its three-day run. At the far end of the huge exhibit hall, the cottage towered above all of the other exhibits on the floor.
Designed by architect Wayne Visbeen, of Visbeen Associates, and built by Falcon Custom Homes and its subcontractors, the completely furnished cottage was built to the exacting standards customers have come to expect from these two premier contractors. Finishes, both interior and exterior, were of the highest quality wherever one looked. Even so, Visbeen told us that the cottage/home in its basic form (without many extras featured on the show home) is extremely affordable.
The cottage or home, if you will, is 16 feet wide and 32 feet deep. It was specifically designed for narrow lots such as one might find along the shores of area lakes. From front porch to back porch, including the interior layout, we loved the design. Even though only 1,200 square feet, every inch of the open concept, main level floor space was utilized and efficiently laid out, giving one the feeling they were in a much larger home.
An added plus for us was finding Rockford’s award-winning Gallery Interiors as the design contractor for all of the interior spaces, including the kitchen and two bathrooms.
Visualizing ourselves one day living in this carefree home on a small maintenance-free lot, we moved on to take in the rest of the show. Fate conspired to place us at the North Woods Rustic Furniture exhibit where, lo and behold, we found the rustic furniture we would so love to furnish our now “dream” cottage.
Owned by second-time-around newlyweds, Dave and Marie Hodges, the rustic furniture and all manner of interior décor store is located just a short drive east of Rockford at 9327 West Belding Road in Belding. In spite of Michigan’s poor business climate, the couple embarked on a new journey and opened the doors of their new business last October. From day one they have enjoyed a slow but steady increase in sales.
In the 4,500-square-foot showroom, they embrace a “Pure Michigan” philosophy. All furniture is built by Michigan craftsmen (artisan and Mennonite families alike), unlike that of other rustic furniture dealers who source their furniture from Indiana and Ohio. Not just rustic furniture, North Woods offers the availability of all genres of traditional or contemporary furniture in all species of wood, along with rugs, lamps and wall decor.
Best of all, they absolutely guarantee unbeatable pricing. “Don’t be deterred by the nondescript exterior appearance of our new showroom,” said the Hodges. “Take a short drive and come visit. The quality and affordability of the offerings that lie within speak for themselves!”
Enough with daydreaming already! Moving on down the aisles, immensely enjoying the low-key atmosphere of the Showspan-produced Cottage & Lakefront Living Show, we stumbled across the booth of the Rockford area chapter of the Izaak Walton League (Ikes).
Apropos to Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, the Ikes were present to promote their mission to conserve, maintain, protect and restore the soil, forest, water and other natural resources of the United States. They do this by promoting means and opportunities for the education of the public with respect to such resources in addition to their enjoyment and wholesome utilization.
Manning the Ikes’ booth was Chapter President Georgia Donovan and Vice President Barb McGuirl, two unstoppable founts of information. Rockfordites may also know Donovan as an accomplished artist in many mediums. She is the creator of “Cedar Sapiens,” a popular entrant in last year’s ArtPrize competition. One can view examples of decorated Cedar Sapiens on either side of the entrance of the Rockford Community Federal Credit Union and also in front of the Frame and Mat Shop in downtown Rockford.
We took in the rest of this, our favorite of the seven Showspan-produced shows at DeVos Place (January through April). We love its easygoing, laid-back atmosphere and dreamed of one day owning our own lakeshore dream home.
By this time, we were getting a little worn out, and visions of the fine food and good spirits at Timbers Inn beckoned us.
In closing this article, one might think they are reading the eclectic and rambling musings of two “nut cases.” They may well be right. Just what is the point of this article? We don’t know!