An essential guide to Lodge Luxe
by Sally Mitani
From the March, 2018 issue
"My mom used to let me change things around in the house," says the owner of new Dexter home store Whitetail Farm. Mary Baude grew up in Muskegon in a loving family but tough circumstances: she was the sixth of seven children whose father died when she was ten. "My mom went out and got a job to support the family," Baude says, and would often come home from her job at JCPenney to find one of the rooms in their small ranch house rearranged. "She'd say, 'Thank you, Mary Anne,'" becoming her first satisfied customer.
One of her more recent satisfied customers, Meredith Sorkin, is now an employee: "I was walking down the street when she had just moved everything in," says Sorkin. That was late last fall, when Baude took over the space that was formerly a scrapbooking store and then briefly Absolute Computers. "I said to myself, 'I want to be in this space.' The design aesthetic was spot-on with my own." Eventually Sorkin more or less demanded to work there.
Whitetail Farm curates that design aesthetic for its customers. "Chip and Joanna Gaines [from HGTV's Fixer Upper] make everyone want to have a farmhouse lifestyle," Sorkin explains, "but if you're someone who doesn't have a design background, you just end up with a lot of wood signs in your house."
For all her practice redecorating her mother's house, Baude's career first took an entirely different direction. After majoring in business and computers at Ferris State she took a job in IT at Ford in Allen Park ("I think about that now, and I think 'What on earth were you doing?'"). But she met her husband there and eventually gave up the job to stay home with the kids. As his career took the family to Ohio, then Denver, then Minneapolis, she began nourishing her artistic side: "I would buy kids' T-shirts and paint or add fabric to them." She also began painting landscapes--"acrylics
on canvas." She sold her art at craft fairs for years. By the time they got to Minneapolis, she was ready to go into retail for real. She and a partner opened a store called Willows Home Accents. Unfortunately, the year was 2008, and as people struggled to keep their homes out of foreclosure, they weren't spending much money to accent them. "We regrouped though, and though no one was buying furniture, we did handbags, scarves, costume jewelry." Although the business survived, around that time her marriage broke up and she left Minneapolis.
In 2016 she moved back to this area, where she has family. "I was selling some of my paintings at 3bird," the much bigger home store around the corner, and talking to owner Cathy Swan "about design, all the time." All that talk eventually led to her signing a lease for her own store. This Whitetail Farm is a companion to her Whitetail Farm in Saline, where she lives on ten acres and holds events and fundraisers in her barn.
The Dexter store is like someone's relaxed, overstuffed jewel-box apartment where everything is for sale: the art on the walls (some of it hers), the jewelry spilling out of boxes, the boxes themselves, the tables, chairs, dishes. Baude says the spontaneity is actually a carefully calculated blend of styles she calls "Lodge Luxe, Lakeside Living, Modern Farmhouse, and Current Traditions," with Lodge Luxe predominating during the stark winter months. Again Sorkin steps in, with a description of Lodge Luxe: "soft cashmere and blush tones. Mary brings it all together in a polished way."
Whitetail Farm: Home & Lifestyle, 3238 Broad St., Dexter. No phone. Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. Closed Mon. whitetail-farm.com
[Originally published in March, 2018.]
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