Chenault James Lake Cottage Decorating Ideas


Designer Chenault James, the daughter of Julian Van Winkle, the founder of Kentucky-based company Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, knows that the very best things in life involve family and come with age. That’s why she wanted her family’s new home to capture the look of the turn-of-the-century cottages in their favorite lake town, Harbor Springs, Michigan.

After years of renting, her parents, Julian and Sissy, finally decided to build a summer home of their own—a property large enough for the entire family, which, in addition to the three sisters and brother Preston, includes lots of grandchildren ranging in ages from 3 to 7 years old. So, Sissy joined forces with daughter Chenault to create a new build chock-full of charm and character. “Every time you get to town, it’s like stepping back in time—you walk everywhere. Kids stay out playing— on their own!—until dusk. We wanted the house to capture that feeling,” Chenault says.

Once their new home was built and ready, they filled it with antiques and made it a cozy place for their big family. The result: a three-story, eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom retreat that boasts all the trappings of an old-school Lake Michigan home.

Exterior

This charming new build was inspired by historic homes in the area. Thanks to the water, an expansive fire pit, and a wraparound porch, the family spends most of their time outdoors.

SHOP FIRE PITS

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Dining Room

In the dining room, an iron chandelier hangs from a ceiling adorned with tiles from a beloved local diner. Mom Sissy filled an antique walnut hutch with Blue Willow dishware that she’s collected through the years.

SHOP BLUE WILLOW DISHWARE

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Living Room

Cottage style reigns in the living room, with canvas cotton duck slipcovered furniture, flea-market-find side tables, and a coffee table that Chenault covered in burlap and painted. A bourbon barrel hoop recalls the family business.

SHOP SLIPCOVER FURNITURE

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Kids Area

After dinner, the kids pile on the cozy sofa covered in weatherproof (and childproof) cotton duck fabric. Sissy found the nautical painting in Louisville at Barry Wooley Designs.

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Master Bedroom

Wide-set paneled walls in the master bedroom mimic the look of old Lake Michigan cottages, which had no insulation and left wall joists exposed. “This room was the right place for that historic look,” says Chenault.

RELATED: Soothing White Bedrooms

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Bathroom

A set of vintage floral watercolors by M. LeClair in simple white frames adds graphic punch in the guest bathroom.

SHOP FRAMES

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Patio

The outdoor dining room is ready for family gatherings thanks to a 10-person table from local shop Don Kelly Antiques. Chenault’s husband crafted the starburst mirror from old bourbon barrels.

SHOP BISTRO CHAIRS

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The Family

The homewners and their kids, Bo James (age 4), Ed James, Neal James (age 6), Chenault James, Louise Breen, Van Breen (age 7), Julian Breen (age 3), Mac Breen (age 3), and Willy Breen.

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