Eight years ago, when Katie and Nick Forte moved into their Troy home, she was an art director for an advertising agency and he worked at Forte Belanger, a family-owned catering business. Fast-forward five years, and the creative couple decided to cut loose from their careers and launch their own company, named after the months in which their children — Olivia, 11, and Nathan, 9 — were born. “We decided it was time for a change,” Nick says.
Today, june & december turns out “storied” home décor and paper goods that are found in stores nationwide as well as on the couple’s website, juneanddecember.com.
There’s no doubt that the couple, who met while students at Michigan State University, complement one another. Thanks to Nick’s business background and experience working at his family’s company, and Katie’s talents in advertising and graphic design, the two are able to work well together when it comes to creating and maintaining their brand.
Katie designs everything from paper goods and art prints to kitchen towels and pillows — many with a nature motif, showcasing ferns, meadow flowers, herbs, honeycombs, and pine trees. Vintage lemonade, ice cream sundaes, and fun words and phrases also have featured roles on her wares. “Nick has a creative streak, as well,” Katie says; Nick, in turn, is quick to point out that Katie can easily go from creating to analytical thinking.
Their success so far may be due, in great part, to the fact that this family actually lives their brand. Crazy about the outdoors and Mother Nature’s many curiosities, Nick, who grew up in Oxford, and Katie, who spent childhood days in the rural countryside outside of Jackson, have taken their flora-fauna passion and instilled it not only into their business, but into their home and lifestyle, too.
For example, the couple regularly takes their two children on what they call “treasure hunts” to antiques markets or into Michigan’s natural bounty of forests, meadows, and shorelines. Inspired by these outings, Katie expresses the family’s adventures through her art, conveying what the couple describes as “that feeling you get when you discover your next great find.” That spirit seeps into their paper, textiles, and gift products, and sprinkles its essence throughout their home.
Upon entering the Fortes’ family room and living room, one is immediately struck by the spaces’ botanical beauty. Dainty asparagus ferns perch from stacks of books, while sofa pillows with fern and frond motifs invite one to stay awhile. “Ferns are magical,” Katie says. Large fiddle leaf fig trees add additional splashes of calming green. In the family room, a long, knotty stick has taken up residence on a crisp white mantel, while in the living room, a lamp with a bird-themed lampshade discovered in a Holland, Mich., art gallery complements an old wood coffee table, once a farmer’s tool box. Little glass boxes and jars filled with curiosities picked up on beach walks and forest outings intrigue, and small landscape paintings discovered at flea markets and antiques shops adorn blue-gray (Behr’s Stone Fence) walls reminiscent of the Great Lakes. “We like things that have stories behind them,” Katie says.
A potted fern in the dining room takes center stage on the table, while the walls feature a vignette of pressed flowers that Katie created. “We planted a wildflower field at Nick’s parents’ house in the Thumb area, and then we picked the flowers and I pressed them,” Katie explains. “I just love them.” In the corner, there’s a wheelbarrow brimming with plants. “We call that a plant stand,” Katie says with a smile.
One of the couple’s favorite pieces is a red hutch placed between the kitchen and family room that they discovered at Leon & Lulu in Clawson. “It’s new but looks old,” Katie says. “I love putting things in it and change it out regularly.”
The couple’s office, just off the foyer, features a massive wood desk that Katie designed and Nick built from wood that had once been a floor in a farmer’s workroom. Discovered in Corunna at 2nd Chance Wood, the pieces have been given new life. “We’ve picked up some cool finds there,” Nick says.
In the mudroom, a large Michigan map covers part of a wall. “The kids put stickers on places where we’ve gone,” Katie explains.
When the couple goes on the road to trade shows, their booth echoes the feel of their home. “We design our brand similar to our house,” Nick explains. In fact, their booth is painted the same color they used on the walls in their kitchen, bathroom, family room, master bedroom, and hallways (Sherwin-Williams’ Revere Pewter). “All of our color palette is derived from nature and finds,” Nick says. “Our work tells our story, and our story is in our work.”
Locally, you can find june & december goods at Rail and Anchor in Royal Oak, West Elm in Birmingham, and City Bird in Detroit. Or shop online at juneandecember.com.