Faux Marble Fluting, a Fresh Take on Checkerboard—There’s No Lack of Tile Inspo in This Michigan Home
The family pivoted design plans after welcoming their fifth child.
Published Apr 8, 2023 1:45 AM
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Dentist Lindsey Vogl Robinson had a particular vision in mind when it came to her family’s forever home: She imagined an enclosed breezeway connecting an attached garage and a cozy screened-in porch (as well as a front porch) with plenty of seating. But when Lindsey learned that she and her husband, Brad, who also works in the dental field as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, were expecting baby number five, Maggie (now 1 year old), they were forced to update their plans. “We had drawn up these silly little sketches and kept compiling a layout we thought was right for our family,” she says, which initially included four children’s bedrooms. While the news “threw them a curveball,” they were excited to create a home focused on fun, flexible design and outdoor living. But in order to get everything they needed for their growing crew (their other little ones are ages 9, 7, 5, and 3), they would need to build from the ground up.
The Robinsons, who live 10 minutes outside Grand Rapids in Ada, Michigan, found a six-acre plot surrounded by forest and expansive fields yet still within the same school district as their previous home. “With five kids, we try to spend as much time outside as possible,” says Lindsey. “We wanted a property where we could let them run out the door and not have to worry.”
Lindsey looked to Liz Hoekzema, designer at Kalamazoo-based KLH Custom Homes, to bring her family’s ideas to life. Initially, Lindsey wanted to have four bedrooms upstairs with two shared bathrooms and the primary bedroom situated on the ground floor, but that would mean two kids would have to share. An additional basement bedroom was a simple fix that promised everyone privacy (her youngest scored the underground space).
While Lindsey admits she tends to lean more neutral in style (think: crisp white sofas and Shaker-style cabinetry), she was excited for Hoekzema to help push the envelope on her design choices. “If it wasn’t for her, I would have gone more traditional,” she says. The exterior is timeless, with twin peaks framing the porch, clapboard siding, and a breezeway that “floods the back entryway with light during the sun-starved winter months,” yet its moody black facade (in Sherwin-Williams’s Caviar) is the touch of “turning a classic on its head.”
As for the interior, the kids who were old enough to have opinions made them known, filtered by Mom and Dad’s desire for cohesion, of course. The eldest of the group, 9-year-old Amelia, requested that her space have “flamingos with a Palm Beach vibe to it,” Lindsey says. The girls’ bathroom features tonal pink tile in an elongated pattern with a small-cut row at the top for a checkered effect that “makes you look twice,” subtle marbled wallpaper, and oversize towel hooks. The boys’ bathroom is another place where tile and pattern are a focal point. “Sarah, one of our designers on staff, was playing around with mapping the layout, and we instantly loved the opportunity to get an extra little checker nod while maintaining our overall alternative rows of stripes and solids,” says Hoekzema.
When it came to selecting storage, Hoekzema didn’t just rely on typical big-box retailers: The pool house’s casual black lockers were purchased from a restaurant supply store. Another cost-effective hack Hoekzema suggested was stacking pencil liner tile underneath the powder room sink to mimic the look of high-end marble fluting.
Allover color makes another appearance in the Robinsons’ pantry, which was designed for grab-and-go snacking as well as concealing dried goods. “I think just having things all neatly in one place allows for easier and better choices,” says Lindsey. “I’m a huge fan of organization and believe that when food is stored and presented well, it helps foster an excitement to use it well.” The superdark walk-in only heightens the brightness of the nearby kitchen, which includes an expansive island that can almost seat everyone in the family and a reflective black tile backsplash—another edgy Hoekzema pick.
“I wanted to make sure we had things in our home we’d like in 10 years,” says Lindsey. “Like with the dark pantry, I was nervous at first about the black backsplash, as it was hard to find images with dark backsplashes online.” In the end, imagining how all the materials would look together wasn’t her biggest hurdle: The property lies 1,000 feet off a gravel road surrounded by wetlands. “We had to clear a path from the road to the building site and get connected to utilities, which took hundreds of calls and emails,” says Hoekzema. Despite those early obstacles, the home is a reminder that your first plan might not always be the best one.