House Tour: Fresh Airs
Seeking space to exhale, a Chicago family heads to Indiana’s countryside, where Amish neighbors remind them to focus on extended family, simplicity and nature.
A world away
172 miles and 36 footsteps. That's the distance Shea Soucie, husband Chris Henger, and their four kids travel from their downtown Chicago home for weekends at their Indiana lake house. Though just west of Indianapolis, it feels a world away, and every bang of a screen door reminds Shea why they make the three-hour trip."There, it's about ‘Don't cross the street.' Here, it's about ‘Go! Explore!' It's about learning to ride bikes and playing with squirt guns instead of electronics," Shea says. "I want my kids to experience the kind of freedom they just can't have in the city."
Pictured: Alfresco dining is de rigueur at the Soucie-Henger lake house-especially when cousins visit.
The new lakeside house draws inspiration from vintage Amish homes dotting the winding roads and gently rolling hills of the neighboring countryside. White board-and-batten siding and a generous front porch with standing-seam metal roof provide visual interest without extraneous detail. A freestanding garage and bunkhouse take their architectural direction from rural outbuildings.
Bright and airy
Inside, an open floor plan relaxes beneath tall ceilings and windows capping the soaring atrium. Adding the atrium sacrificed some second-floor living space, but ensures an airy, bright kitchen. Fuss-free trim around windows and doors, warm wood floors, simple base moldings and Shaker-style kitchen cabinets further the country feel. Iron light fixtures and wrought-iron barstools with antique-reproduction bases add rusticity similar to the farm implements hanging on the upstairs walls.
Rooms wear Shea's comfortable organic chic style with natural textures and playful accents.Belgian linen layers on beds and slipcovers upholstered sofas and chairs. "I love the texture of linen, the feel of linen and the sheen of linen," Shea says. "I even love that it wrinkles and doesn't feel perfect." In the master bedroom, a quiet palette gains interest from texture, design details and art.
Found objects function like art: Farm pulleys from a nearby barn group on a powder room wall, and fungi sleuthed by the kids on woodland hikes cover a sofa table. "They speak to where we are. They make the house feel like it's in the country," Shea says.
The living room's patterned carpet beautifully hides dirt and spills. "The life in this house doesn't come from busy patterned fabrics or lots of color," Shea explains. "It comes from people, which is why the only statement the decor needs to make is-relax!"
Meals are laid-back, depending more on serendipity than planning. Shea typically tells the kids to go pick whatever they feel like eating from the backyard garden, then she prepares their harvest choices for late dinners.The kids may spend their days outside, barefoot and in bathing suits, but Shea makes sure meals feel special-even if they are incredibly relaxed."It makes me happy to see everyone gathered together," she adds. "I want the kids to know how important that time is."
Adjacent to the main residence, a bunkhouse is the favorite play space and can handle up to 12.
Fresh Airs buying guide
Home designer Soucie Horner Ltd., Chicago (312) 755-0202; souciehorner.com
Builder True Homes USA, Monroe, North Carolina (704) 238-1229; firstname.lastname@example.org
Interior designer Shea Soucie, Soucie Horner Ltd., Chicago (312) 755-0202; souciehorner.com
Chandeliers Circolo collection 3Lt in Olde Bronze, Kichler Lighting. kichler.com
Bench Mecox Gardens. mecox.com
Sofa and chairs Custom, Soucie Horner Ltd. souciehorner.com
Slipcover fabric Libeco Home. libeco.com
Rug Similar pieces available, Oscar Isberian Rugs. isberian.com
Coffee and side tables Jayson Home. jayson.com
Upholstered headboard Custom, Soucie Horner Ltd. souciehorner.com
Bed cover Libeco Home. libeco.com