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A Contemporary Retreat

Story by Elizabeth Neelley Photography Amanda Cross

Story by Elizabeth Neelley

Photography Amanda Cross

Nestled in an established southern Illinois neighborhood, among mostly traditional homes, is the modern and contemporary, creamy white brick home of Mike Trude and Michelle Holmes.

Located in Marion, Illinois, Mike and Michelle's home is not a cookie cutter home. It's a sleek, modern house that would be right at home in the pages of Architectural Digest or House Beautiful.

Looking to downsize, Mike and Michelle searched through a lot of house plans to find exactly what they wanted: a smaller floorplan, mainly single story, with a U-shaped layout and open design.

Although they researched floorplans and house designs together, Mike readily admits that it was mostly Michelle who had the décor vision for the home. Decorated in black, beige, gray and various shades of white (seven shades to be exact, according to Michelle), the 2,000 plus square foot home is accented throughout with touches of gold, mirrored accessories and beautiful crystal lighting and chandeliers.

The uniqueness of the house begins immediately upon entering the home, where one is welcomed through a pair of large, custom made glass paneled doors that are framed in and overlaid with a black wrought-iron sunburst design. The doors were purchased at their local home improvement center, but were made especially for their home through a Lowe's vendor in California.

The wavy design of the sunburst on the front doors carries over to another pair of French style doors that separate the entry area of the home from the guest suite. These custom guest bedroom doors showcase handmade panels of swirled Murano glass, which provide enough privacy for guests staying in the room, but still let in light from the main foyer.

The spare bedroom continues the black, white and gray color scheme and has been a home away from home for many guests, including the women whom Michelle has helped mentor and coach during her 20 year career as a pageant consultant for contestants within the Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss America organizations.

In the guest suite, along with the entry way and other areas of the home, hang many crystal chandeliers and pendant lights of various glass types and sizes, most of which Michelle assembled herself and hung drops and strands of crystal on, string by string, until they were ready to be installed by their electrician.

In planning the home, Mike and Michelle got rid of all their old furniture - literally everything, Michelle points out, except for their clothes and her old bedroom suite. Michelle worked with Shirley Holmes (no relation) at Distinctive Interiors in Marion, Illinois, to pick out most of the furniture, art and accessories that fill the rooms.

"Shirley helped me with all of it," says Michelle. "She gave me the guidance and expertise I needed to feel comfortable that every piece of décor and furnishings I chose would create a cohesive look throughout my entire home."

Reflecting the ambient light of Michelle's collection of chandeliers and lamps are two beautiful statement mirrors, which can both be seen from the open area of the home's central foyer.

One of them is a very large 96 inch by 68 inch black-framed mirror that sits on the floor behind a hallway credenza and leans up against the white linen colored walls, off-set a little from the furniture surrounding it. The mirror is divided in to six panels and separated by small round medallions that are reminiscent of buttons on a tufted ottoman.

The second statement piece mirror in this area of the home is a large, but smaller than the first, gold- gilded mirror that hangs over a contemporary cream-colored buffet, and is inset with an inner frame in a gold and mirrored crisscross pattern.

The buffet itself is also special, as its cabinets below feature glass covered, capiz shell door fronts, which match well with the glass dining room table and modern shell-like design of the chandelier hanging above the table.

Another impressive feature of the central living area of the house is the white Venetian plaster treatment on two walls in the dining room.

Done by Michelle, the plaster application took three coatings on the wall with a trowel and was finished with a sanding and burnishing treatment that caused a shiny, almost patent leather like sheen to come through. It was a many hour labor of love for Michelle and a wall finish she researched thoroughly on YouTube and Pinterest before tackling in one weekend.

In the formal sitting area, directly opposite the front entry way, is a compact yet very stylish living room, picture-perfect for conversations with friends. Two chairs, both with only one arm, are situated side by side to create a love-seat sofa, and a mirrored coffee table sits in front, on top of a light beige faux fur area rug.

The table is surrounded by four barrel backed chairs - two on each side of the table - which are upholstered in a silver, beige and black twig designed fabric. On the wall behind two of the chairs is one of the first pieces of art that Shirley helped Michelle pick out, a silhouette of a woman done in blacks and charcoals on a white background.

As in most newly built homes of today, there are usually two rooms where much of the design is focused - the master bathroom and the kitchen. For Mike and Michelle, that was no exception.

As one enters the master bathroom, the entire wall on the left is a black, custom, furniture-style double sink vanity, separated in the middle with a custom make-up counter, with crystal pendant lights hanging above the entire vanity top. On the opposite wall is a large, frameless glass walk-in shower with white, faux marble ceramic tiles and a free standing black and mirrored-door linen cabinet, which is very fitting with the rest of the home's design.

The kitchen was the one room in the house where Mike was more involved. While Michelle had a vision for the entire home, Mike had an idea for the kitchen that he wanted and much of what is seen in the kitchen comes from a picture he found. Speaking of that photo, "I needed to see it first, and I knew I liked it when I saw it (photo)," says Mike.

Very much in line with the home's modern and eclectic style, the kitchen features espresso stained custom wood cabinets, purchased from Southern Illinois Cabinet in Marion, Illinois, that extend up to the ceiling, with long-handled bronzed cabinet and drawer pulls. At the tops of the cabinets are glass front, back-lit display nooks in which Michelle has displayed antique glass pieces which belonged to her grandmother.

The counter tops are white marble, which were honed from a slab Michelle and Mike found at a stone vendor in St. Louis. The white marble counter tops contrast well with the stainless steel backsplash and appliances, which were purchased from Murdale True Value in Carbondale, Illinois.

Along the front of the kitchen is a white marble topped bar which is covered underneath with stacked stone in several shades of gray and more stainless steel tiles. The gray cushioned leather bar stools complete the look and feel which Mike was hoping for in the kitchen.

Connecting this room and the rest of the house are hand carved style hardwood floors in a dark hickory stain.

As reflected in the antique glass pieces from Michelle's grandmother displayed in the kitchen, family is important to Mike and Michelle. Michelle is fortunate to have another family heirloom displayed in her dining room, a contemporary metal sculpture hanging on the wall next to her dining table, originally commissioned by her grandfather.

A love for modern style has run in her family for decades, and it was Michelle's dad who took the metal artwork next and had it in his civil engineering agency office. That is, until her father's retirement, when Michelle asked to have it, and it came to her home where it now fits in perfectly with the modern and innovative flair of the home.

Mike and Michelle don't just display items from family in their home, but they enjoy hosting them during events at their home, sharing their hospitality with those they love. Just this year, Michelle's daughter was married in the backyard garden, and every Sunday about 20 members of their family meet for a meal. They gather in the kitchen, around the dining table, and all throughout the rooms of Mike and Michelle's beautiful home.

It's a home they look forward to welcoming people to for many years to come.

"While our home is not large," says Michelle, "the open floor plan allows my 20 plus family members to comfortably get together for weekly family dinners and holidays. Special occasions are much more memorable when celebrated in the comfort of a home rather than in a public venue." n

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