In Good Taste - Home is where the heart — and art — is for interior designer Elizabeth Fields
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, interior designer and Franklin resident Elizabeth Fields, who runs Elizabeth Fields Design, is in her element. That's when she goes to the farmers' market in Franklin to load up on the fruits and vegetables she loves to use for both cooking and decorating.
"For fall, I like to have apples, pears, and pomegranates sitting in wonderful antique ceramic bowls or on wooden trays on the island in my kitchen," she says. "They're lovely to display because of their rich colors." The apples eventually play a leading role when Fields bakes her signature apple crisp dessert.
"A lot of the action in this kitchen happens on the island," Fields says. "It's a very well-used space. When my kids were little, they used to sit on the top, playing games or cards. And every holiday buffet or Sunday dinner is set up on it."
Just beyond the island is a massive 8 foot-long rough-sawn wooden table, complete with a trestle base. "It's hearty and thick, with aged, soft corners. We've had it for 13 years and it's really user-friendly," Fields says. "We eat, play games, and do projects on it, and I also meet with clients there. I love it because it's whatever it needs to be."
When Fields and her husband, Gary, purchased their 2,200- square-foot ranch-style home 17 years ago, it had lots of little rooms and lots of little hallways. The couple decided to reconfigure the space and added a 1,500-foot addition, which includes the 18-by-40-foot-long kitchen. Made out of wood and painted white, the kitchen cabinets, drawers, and island base all act as a backdrop for the show-stopping twig and birch hanging wooden plate rack that dominates the east wall.
Designed by her mother, artist Barbara Eisenberg, and father, Gary Eisenberg, and crafted by Larry Hawkins of Rustic Twig Furniture in Roscommon, Mich., the 60-by-84-inch plate rack holds a wonderful collection of colorful ceramic platters that range from antique to contemporary. To keep it interesting, Fields says she rotates the platters on an ongoing basis and includes works by several Michigan artists, including potters Jan Sadowski and John Glick (see the "Decor Showcase" story, page 26, in this issue for more on these and other potters).
In fact, one of the most delightful things about this home is its many interesting collections — most of which are family-oriented. In the den, just off the kitchen, wooden shelves contain a group of beaded and fabric hearts hand-made early in the 20th century by Native Americans living in the Niagara Falls area. Fields says she received the first one as a Valentine's Day gift from her mother when she was just 8 years old, and those gifts continued over the years.
Also in the den, another wall houses nine charming watercolor and gouache pictures of both farm and wild animals. They were painted in the 1990s by former Detroit resident Emily Green, a childhood friend of Fields. "I bought them because I loved them and wanted to help Emily fund her business," Fields says. (Today, Green resides in California where she creates and produces a multitude of child-oriented products under the label Emily Green A Brand of Imagination).
Another charming collection, located on a wall in the laundry room, consists of both hand prints and self-portraits that were created by her daughter, Blair, and son, Avery, now 12 and 15, from the time they were very young. "You have to edit them and make selections. Not everything is an A+ thing," Fields says.
In a niche off the main hall, there is a knock-out photo wall of black and white, color, and sepia photos of the family, all taken over a seven-year period by Kathryn Kittinger of Shoogie Boogies Photo Studio in Sarasota, Fla., where the family vacations every year.
Nearby, in the back hall, plastic bins — one for each member of the family — hold seasonal shoes. Across the way, built-in drawers — again, one for each member of the family — hold baseball caps and hats. "I'm very neat," Fields says. "Nothing is ever out of order."
Fields says her home is "lifestyle-driven. I want everything to be beautiful and exciting, but you always have to keep in mind that form and function work well together. Houses aren't museums; they're meant to be used."