The Richard Ericksons of northern Michigan envisioned sunny mornings sipping coffee and reading the newspaper, surrounded by the natural light and tropical foliage of their Longboat Key vacation home. The modest ranch-style dwelling they purchased offered a waterfront location and serene setting, but tiny windows and a dark foyer impeded views; and the interior begged for a change. The solution? Raise ceilings, enlarge windows, create a courtyard and expand the entryway into a classic morning room, infused with all of the hues and charm of nature and surrounded by glass.
"She loves gardening and flowers, and he wants to be outside as much as possible," explains designer Bonnie Lancaster of Lancaster Humma White Studio. "We basically just threw the front doors open and brought the outside in." Now wooden gates lead into a sun-drenched courtyard awash in blooming color. Glass front doors are often left open, and flowers seem to spill into the morning room on overstuffed chairs in tropical print cotton and linen fabric and walls hung with antique botanical prints framed in rustic barnwood. The room is painted a soft Granny Smith apple green with ivory contrasts. The fireplace beckons you to pull up a chair, and a focal point is the plush poppy-red chair with matching ottoman covered in luxurious imported chenille.
"We wanted dramatic splashes of color, just like in a garden," says Lancaster. "The floor is warm terra cotta tile, like the earth. The courtyard gates are vivid green. Wood is done in rich, dark tones for accent purposes. And we maintained the balance in the room with simplicity and lots of fresh white." Lancaster had the traditional red fireplace brick painted white, as well as exposed beams and paneling on the vaulted ceiling. Windows are cased in white and left untreated, since the gated courtyard offers adequate privacy. Handsome bead-board cabinets in white flank the fireplace, concealing a television and storage areas.
An island-plantation feel was accomplished with a richly textured diamond-woven sisal rug on the floor, mahogany turned-leg tables from Indonesia and a Moroccan cupboard-styled mirror above the mantel. Woven wood art pieces, a bronze pineapple, table lamps imported from Italy and the wrought-iron and travertine coffee table imbue the room with color and warmth against a backdrop of sky and sea. On chilly mornings, the couple lights a fire and enjoys their garden view to the south, a secluded harbor off the Intracoastal Waterway.
"When they described their ideal space, they specifically asked for a multi-purpose room to be used every day," explains Lancaster. "They desired a morning living room; a place to plan the day, visit together over coffee, do the crossword puzzle, catch the news. Their evening living room is across the house, where we created a totally separate and very different space. Furnishings are more formal and the room is configured differently, used for different activities. Here, the emphasis is on airiness and a sense that you are living within a garden."
Fortuitously, the morning room is adjacent to the foyer; and guests enter the home by stepping into its midst and sensing all of the color and light carried through from the courtyard. The result is a fresh and lovely surrounding.
Interior design by Bonnie Lancaster
Construction by Rusty Chinnis
Rug by Stark Carpet
Courtyard cedar gates by Kennedy Studios
Chair and ottoman by Osborne & Little