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Beyond Pale

A New Buffalo house softens minimalism’s hard edges, drawing inspiration from the local landscape

Designer Louise Witkin used upholstered furniture and shag rugs to “impart warmth and fun” in the monochromatic living room. The curvy bench and triangular coffee table are Witkin’s own designs.  Photo Gallery »

The original farmers around New Buffalo, Michigan, knew all about minimalism—keep it simple, keep it functional. The structures they built are honest, unpretentious, and unembellished.

Interior designer Louise Witkin gets that. When she decided to build a new house here, she drove around for hours soaking up inspiration from the local landscape. “I wanted my house to fit in, to be very high tech but with elements of a barn,” she says.

In the dining area, a dramatic light fixture echoes the crisp lines of the chairs and the glass-topped table she designed.  Photo Gallery »

Witkin and her husband, Howard Berg, run the interiors firm I. D. Associates. She began drawing up the plans for this 3,600-square-foot, three-bedroom beauty four years ago when they decided the weekend cottage they owned on the property could no longer accommodate them.

“I need lots of wide open space,” Witkin says. “I love looking out and seeing all the way up to the tops of the trees.” With six grandsons who frequently visit, privacy was also important. Witkin’s solution was to create a soaring great room with 18-foot ceilings as the house’s communal heart, with a guest wing fanning off in one direction and a master bedroom suite in the other.

All the rooms get copious sunlight via windows overlooking a private Eden of rolling lawns, flowering trees, and evergreens. Focusing outward was Witkin’s primary goal. “I wanted your eye to go outside first,” she explains. “To encourage that I kept everything inside monochromatic.”

It’s not strictly white-box minimalism, but Witkin is the first to admit she won’t be embracing unnecessary decorative flourishes any time soon. “The world is so chaotic,” she says. “I want my home to have utter tranquility.”

Resources: See Buy Guide.


Photography: Nathan Kirkman
Styling: Diane Ewing




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