Eighteen years ago, Lisa and Rob Palmer found their dream home in Fenton. “Rob drove up a random street and saw a house that was for sale. He stopped, talked to the owner, and in two weeks it was ours,” Lisa says.
Situated on 13 acres of beautiful, open land that backs up to a nature preserve, the all-white, 5,300-square-foot modern Farmhouse-style home suits the couple and their 10-year-old son, Quinn. “Quinn spends 80 percent of his time outside,” Lisa says. The front landscaping welcomes with pretty trees and shrubs, including hydrangea, a flowering apple tree, maples, and lots of boxwood that Lisa adores. The back of the home is like heaven to Quinn and his friends, with a pond, wavy natural grasses, and a beckoning field beyond.
The Palmers embarked on a complete renovation in 2015 to make their home more of a “New England style,” Lisa explains. Part of the renovation included replacing all the flooring, knocking down walls, building a larger master closet, opening up a master bathroom, and installing new lighting (much of it is vintage) and furniture.
“In the summer of 2017, we painted the whole exterior white and put on a new roof. Rob thought that because it’s huge, all white might not look great, but I said, ‘No, I want it white,’ ” Lisa says with a smile. Rob selected the color for the front door — a deep, rich black.
“We wanted the whole home to be white inside, too, like a canvas,” Lisa says, and quickly points out that mostly white doesn’t mean mostly cold. In fact, the home is warm, inviting, and plenty rustic, thanks to Lisa’s selection of furnishings and vintage decorative details. “So many people say to me, ‘Wait, your entire home is mostly white?’ and I say, ‘Yes! I love a clean palette!’ ”
White beadboard and white shiplap accent various spaces, while white oak floors run through the entire home. “I tested eight wood colors and when I found the one I loved, I didn’t want to stain it at all,” Lisa says. Flooring experts told her the floors would be destroyed if they weren’t stained, so she settled on a very light gray.
In the kitchen, which opens to the living room and has huge windows that look out to the expansive property, cabinetry with clear glass insets showcases Lisa’s collection of Depression glassware and milk glass spice containers, while vintage cookbooks and more round out the space. “I like to be able to see things,” she notes, “and all the old touches remind me of my days growing up.” White marble countertops have taken on a lived-in feel. “They show their life,” she says. A farmhouse sink looks fitting, as do mostly white appliances. The dining room is wrapped in a textured white wallpaper that complements a rustic Restoration Hardware table and chairs.
A frequent shopper at the Davisburg Antique Festival, Lisa says she can spend all day at an antiques show and bring home one simple thing. “The hunt is half the fun, and I love nostalgia and thinking about where things have been and what they’ve been through,” she says, looking out to a display of her own childhood encyclopedias on a vintage cart in her family room. “We’re all moving so fast. It’s nice to slow down and go back a bit.”
The living room features ultra-comfortable seating (in white, of course) and, these days, a gorgeous white-flocked Christmas tree is decked with gleaming copper ornaments and white lights. “I didn’t want a television in this room, but wanted it more for family games — like Battleship or cards — and conversation,” she says.
This time of year, many of the windows and front door are adorned with fresh wreaths. A first-floor hallway takes on a special glow when its lights are turned on. Discovered in a cathedral in Detroit, the light fixtures evoke a peaceful mood. The couple is in the throes of creating a bonus room upstairs where “my guys will hang out,” Lisa says. She’s decided to have tile installed on the stairway risers to the bonus room, which will also feature the same hardwood flooring found throughout the home.
“I wanted to create a clutter-free environment,” Lisa says. “Minimalism is a top priority for me. When I walk into the home, I don’t want my head spinning,” adds the busy mom, a Detroit-based serial entrepreneur and founder of pOpply, a tech company that’s building a content-driven retail marketplace.
“Coming home grounds me from a busy day.”
Rob, co-owner of Pontiac-based Motor City Computer (an asset management company for Fortune 500 companies) agrees. “My wife had a vision and I knew the only way she would be content staying in this home was to let her have her say in the whole process,” he says. “All white makes everything look clean and minimalist.”
IN THE DETAILS: RESOURCE GUIDE
Exterior paint, Sherwin-Williams Super White; cabinetry hardware, Russell Hardware, Bloomfield Township; fresh greenery, Carlson’s Greenhouse, Fenton, and Eastern Market, Detroit; dining room table (not shown), Restoration Hardware, Troy; dining room chairs (not shown), Ballard Designs; accessories, Anthropologie and found vintage. Favorite vintage sources: Lost and Found — Treasures of Old and New, Grand Rapids; and “any antiques show in the Midwest.” Bathroom towels, World Market. Bathroom lighting, schoolhouse.com