Home is Where the Horse is

These needlepoint pillows were handmade by Wasserman’s mother, Edith, 45 years ago and are currently in the guest bedroom. Photographs by Beth Singer

For a thoroughly 21st-century man who built two homes via e-mail and whose best friend is his iPhone, it’s oxymoronic that Gary Wasserman’s preferred mode of transportation is the horse and buggy. But Wasserman — a fourth-generation horseman — wouldn’t have it any other way.

Growing up, his family lived in Birmingham but always owned farms in Metamora. So Wasserman grew up riding show horses and competing in jumper events. “It took me a lot of years to figure out why someone would live out here,” he says. “But it’s a bucolic, Midwestern setting that’s absolutely beautiful.” His Metamora property, named “Walkabout Farm,” includes 80 acres, a dressage-training area, and five obstacle courses. But beautiful and bucolic can’t keep Wasserman around for long. As president of Allied Metals, he spends more than half his time on planes, regularly jetting off to his offices in Düsseldorf, Tokyo, and Paris, before heading back to headquarters in Troy — not to mention summers in Metamora, trips to the 7,500-square-foot home he’s building in Naples, Fla., and overseas jaunts to combined-driving events in Europe.

Back in Metamora, the jet-setting executive prefers hosting frequent outdoor dinner parties, complete with champagne carriage rides and help from a full-time cook. Which is why the former coachman’s cottage includes a top-notch kitchen, in addition to a master bedroom and exercise room stocked with artwork by Cranbrook Academy of Art students. “I know what I like; I’m very consistent,” says Wasserman, an extensive art collector who sits on the boards of Cranbrook Academy of Art and the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach. “I’m always drawn to the same form, color, and contemporary aesthetic. No matter how hard I try, it’ll always be red, vibrant, and big.”

That made creating a Midwestern farm theme for his newly doubled 2,400-square-foot Metamora farmhouse quite a departure. “I wanted it to be more of a rustic country home — with character,” he says. “The advantages this house affords me are that I can mix up antiques, traditional and craftsman furniture, contemporary art, and family objects that I can’t normally do in a contemporary environment.”

A second renovation, which took place last winter, was done by Wasserman’s A-list design team, including builder Joel Lerman, interior designers Lori Winslow Gordon and Kevin Serba, and landscape architect Charles Kashner. “This is where I came from and this is where I returned to,” Wasserman says. “This place and the horses are so central to me. It’s where I find my comfort and my identity.”

Left: The Michigan fieldstone fireplace in the master bedroom was also made by craftsmen in Kalkaska. The two Poltrona-Frau chairs are from Arkitektura In-Situ. Over the mantel hangs an oil painting titled Homage to Georgia O’Keefe by Navajo painter Mark Bradley. Right: In the master bedroom, the bed and rustic furnishings were custom-made from Aspen wood in Kalkaska. “I wanted the house to feel like a Midwestern farm, not a Rocky Mountain cabin,” he says. The painting, by Stephen Goodfellow, is one of Wasserman’s favorites. “It reminds me of me and my son,” he says.

Wasserman frequently takes guests on cocktail cruises throughout his 80-acre property and adjoining hunt country. (From front to back) Coachmen Gavin Robson and Terrance Delaney, Gary Wasserman, interior designer Lori Winslow Gordon of Arkitektura In-Situ, resident horse trainer Julianne Kinzie, and interior designer Kevin Serba of Serba Interiors. Born in the Netherlands, the Royal Dutch Warmblood horses were trained in England before Wasserman brought them to his farm in 2007.
The kitchen is part of the great room, which includes the dining room, lounge area, and a small corner office. Wasserman uses red — his favorite color — as an accent throughout the house, including the stained hickory cabinets. Backsplashes and countertops are slate, and the island is topped with walnut. The dining room (right) features an Amish-built dining-room table and chairs from Old Hickory. Seat cushions were upholstered in the tartan plaid Wasserman bought in Edinburgh. The wall paneling is pine.