Home for the Holidays
A classic Nantucket shingle-style residence in Birmingham sets the tone for family gatherings
Traditional elements in the family room — from the wall of built-ins to the fireplace mantel — are further enhanced with sentimental embellishments.
It seems serendipitous that Lisa Bouchard met her interior designer-turned-friend Ann Heath Templeton, owner of Birmingham-based Duncan Fuller Interiors, at a Christmas party years ago. “I had just bought my first home and someone introduced us and said we should work together,” recalls Bouchard, a partner at Hunter Roberts Homes in Bloomfield Hills.
“I really can say that we’re a team,” adds Templeton, who has worked on four homes with Bouchard. Her client agrees: “We have a good collaboration. Ann is great at pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me to explore things that are a little out of the box.”
Room for More
The festive touches seen in this classic Birmingham residence create a nice backdrop for a number of holiday gatherings thrown by the homeowner, an exceptional cook who loves to entertain and even makes her own gingerbread house. Each season, the home’s dining room, kitchen, and family room are filled with family and friends.
When Bouchard and her late husband were downsizing in anticipation of becoming empty nesters, she loved the idea of a chic townhouse, but she didn’t want to actually live in a townhouse. The roughly 5,000-square-foot dwelling she currently lives in, built a decade before her 2010 move, fit the bill. “This home functions like a detached townhouse,” explains Bouchard, who lives with her three Cavalier King Charles spaniels but welcomes frequent visits from her two sons and four stepsons.
“When Lisa bought the house, it was a pretty home,” Templeton says, but she acknowledges it needed an extensive renovation. Adds Bouchard: “We enhanced it by starting with the kitchen. It was nice when I bought it, but it wasn’t functional. It just grew as a project.”
“What turned out great is that it’s not such a vast kitchen, but it’s so functional,” the designer says. Templeton credits her longtime client and friend with being an amazing cook, and says Bouchard does some major entertaining, especially around the holidays.
At those busy times, the size of the space and the smooth transition between rooms keep the crowds at bay.
The home’s traditional interiors reflect Bouchard’s passion for antiques, many of which were found during her travels with Templeton. Although design projects initially came first and their friendship grew out of their business relationship, now the pair agrees they’re friends first. Among Bouchard’s personal collections are Quimper French pottery pieces that are hand-painted, Chinese export porcelains, and a Majolica collection. Staffordshire porcelain dogs also fill the cozy abode.
These exquisite objects have been gathered from around the country and abroad. “This is 30 years of collecting things that I love. It’s never been about ‘buying a painting for this wall.’ When you buy what you love, it somehow works. It’s a different way of looking at it,” says Bouchard, who also displays pieces that are important to her, like family photos and books.
For the holidays, she adds a collection of nutcrackers that she began buying for her boys when they were little. “Each year, I’d buy them a nutcracker; it’s one of their favorite things. They (still) love unwrapping them and setting them up,” she says. A real Christmas tree features mostly Christopher Radko ornaments that have been collected through the years. “We decorate it (as a family), usually with a little fondue party or brunch.”
Fresh greens from the Oakland County Farmers Market in Waterford join holiday décor from Detroit Garden Works in Sylvan Lake. Bouchard’s custom upholstered pieces, from Avery Boardman, are classic and comfortable.
Live greenery adorns the home’s indoor and outdoor spaces, as seen in the living room, the covered porch, the stairway, and the library. Other personal touches include the antiques that are especially meaningful to the homeowner, along with the comfy custom furnishings and cozy accents like the Scottish wool tartan blankets on the outdoor furniture.
The covered back porch is a popular gathering spot, and Scottish wool tartan blankets add a pop of color to the mix of custom outdoor furniture and antiques come Christmastime. “We have a fireplace, so we can sit out there all through December,” Bouchard says.
Shortly before Christmas, the holiday season begins with a family talent show that often includes as many as 40 relatives and a few close friends. “Some are very talented, and there are others that will tell jokes or do splits, and we end with a singalong,” Bouchard says.
Guests are treated to a Southern Christmas dinner (there’s no particular reason behind the Southern theme) with beans and rice and gumbo. “It’s the same ritual, and we have a blast with the talent show,” says Bouchard, who also makes boatloads of Christmas cookies to share during the season.
Christmas Eve is a quieter occasion. “We have a traditional clam chowder and we go to church and drive around and look at the lights,” she says. “On Christmas morning, we open presents, have a fire in the fireplace, drink hot chocolate, and have brunch.”
Although the family’s newest tradition, which takes place on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), was intended to be a wind-down with a wine tasting and massages, it’s turned into another major event, Bouchard says. Whatever the occasion, the highly efficient kitchen is up to the task with features like a walk-in pantry and a butcher block table that connects to the island. The antique farm table in the breakfast room was discovered on Bouchard’s travels. “I love the idea of how many families had meals and made memories there. That’s really why I love antiques; it’s the history,” she says.
Bouchard and her boys still make memories with all the merriment and meals. She says all of the boys are big on traditions, and those who moved away are coming back to roost. “They think Michigan is the best place to be. It’s the warmth of family and traditions we share throughout the year. We love being together.”
In the Details: Resource Guide
Interior design, Ann Heath Templeton, Duncan Fuller Interiors; upholstered furnishings in living room, library, and family room, Avery Boardman; end tables and coffee tables, living room and family room, Niermann Weeks and Minton-Spidell; dining table, Niermann Weeks, chair fabric, Ralph Lauren; sisal rug, Stark; holiday dishes, Tiffany; goblets, Saint Louis crystal/Thistle; miniature trees in gingerbread house, dining room tree ornaments, and antique French pots, Detroit Garden Works; greenery, Oakland County Farmers Market.