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Rabbit Run Inn’s inviting façade. See more photos in our gallery below.
Anyone who discovers a perfect secluded retreat could be forgiven for wanting to keep it to himself. But after building their dream house in Sawyer, Michigan, Linda Jo and Rodney Clough decided that their comfortable home would be better shared, and set about creating the Rabbit Run Inn.
“When we came down the driveway, I saw the house and the barn and these enormous trees, and it was love,” Linda Jo says of their first visit to the property, eight years ago. That night, she (an interior designer) and Rodney (an industrial designer) sketched plans for a renovated, expanded house on the paper tablecloth of a local restaurant.
The result? Not your typical bed-and-breakfast. While its exterior looks like an updated wood-shingled country cottage, the four tchotchke-less guest rooms in the addition would be right at home in an elegant city hotel, with clean-lined dark wood furniture, neutral color schemes, and amenities such as Wi-Fi and iPod docking stations.
For their own living quarters, the Cloughs went in a more countryish, though still chic, direction, with splashes of bright color and rich patterns and textures enlivening the design. “We wanted to keep the original cottage feel but also make it more sophisticated,” says Linda Jo.
Ample windows and French doors make for an airy space, with views of nature from every angle. “It’s always warm and bright,” says Linda Jo. “We never get cabin fever.”
In the living room, where a plate rail runs around the perimeter, her beloved Chinese blue-and-white porcelain plates and decorative vases are on prominent display. A lamp made from a Chinese foo dog statue, bought years ago in a Chicago junk shop, is a survivor of numerous previous home designs.
With its vibrant blue walls and touches of red, the living room sets the color scheme for the rest of the house. Linda Jo used a bold Tiffany blue for the kitchen cabinets and a softer sea-foam shade for the walls of the master bedroom. Pops of red show up in pillows, rugs, a bedcover, and on the knobs of the stove.
The Cloughs made the design and construction process as eco-smart as possible, installing a geothermal heating system and air conditioning and adding a pond and other landscape elements to attract animals; the grounds were certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Thirty mature trees were planted on the property, including 15-foot spruces moved from a nearby farm.
The land offers more than just good views—it has become integral to the Cloughs’ daily routine. In the summer and fall, they have drinks out by the pond and feed the fish; come winter, they build a fire and watch the deer. And of course there are rabbits.
“We spend part of every day outside,” says Linda Jo. “It’s a pleasure to see our guests enjoy the inn and grounds and hear how much they treasure their time here.”
Architect: Jim Hippler, Exquisite Homes, Berrien Springs, Mich., 269-471-5625, ehmichigan.com.
Photography: James Yochum
Styling: Gisela Rose