Michelle Adams embraces indoor/outdoor living in the heart of the Midwest

See how the tastemaker transformed a Michigan ranch home into a bright and airy retreat “like something you’d see in L.A.”
 Michelle Adams waters plants in her window box out of an open casement window
A major renovation can be intimidating — unless your credits happen to be that of Michelle Adams. As former editor-in-chief of Domino, co-founder of lifestyle and home decor online magazine Lonny, and founder of design website The Maryn, Adams was more than ready to take on a new design challenge — renovating a 1950s ranch-style home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The home’s simple floor plan and architecture created a blank canvas for the tastemaker as she sought to put down roots. See how she created strong connections to the outdoors in a bright and airy home that embodies elements of California cool and minimalist design.

How to achieve indoor/outdoor living in chillier climates

Adams has always admired the seamless blend of indoor/outdoor living that seems to characterize so many California homes. But as a Michigander, she knew she’d have to get creative to make that lifestyle a reality. Luckily, opportunity came knocking as she was solving for how to bring more light into her kitchen. As she looked at the options for transforming a dark, dated space featuring drafty windows original to the house, she came upon Folding Outswing doors.

"It’s almost misleading to call it a ‘door’ since it’s essentially a series of floor-to-ceiling windows that accordion together to open up an entire wall,” Adams said. The folding glass doors open her home up to seamless indoor/outdoor living in the warmer months, while also beautifully framing her backyard all year round. “Once Andersen installed the new doors, the whole room felt bright and modern. Just like something you’d see in L.A.” said Adams. To complete the transformation, Adams built a new deck off her living room essentially expanding her living space into the backyard during spring, summer and fall. “I feel very lucky to spend so much time not only outdoors, but inside a bright and sunny home,” she said.
The living room is completely open to the outdoors thanks to the wall-sized Andersen folding outswing door
When the Folding Outswing door is open on a warm day, there’s no indoors or outdoors, there’s just living space.

Bright and airy everywhere

Updating windows throughout the home helped accent the light and bright aesthetic she was going for, and bringing that look to life gave her a framework for narrowing down her window selections. Adams chose the 100 Series. “They're clean and modern, easy to open, and fit the streamlined minimal look of my home's architecture,” she said. White window frames helped to establish the bright look, and she also opted to skip grilles for completely clear views and unobscured light.

Saying goodbye to the original windows brought peace of mind too. Adams cited lower energy bills and improved fire safety (her old windows were “really hard to open”). “I also knew that when it came time to sell my home one day, the Andersen name would indicate quality to prospective buyers, so I felt comfortable with the investment,” she said. Adams’ style may keep evolving, but the need for sunlight and fresh air in the home will always be timeless.
Andersen folding outswing doors open Michelle Adam’s living room to her deck
New 100 Series windows and the Folding Outswing doors open up the back of Adams’ house to backyard views and lots of natural light.

Takeaways from Adams' remodel

If you’re inspired by this remodel, here are some answers to questions you might have:

  • How do I know a Folding Outswing door will work in my space? Generally, Folding Outswing doors work well in a remodel, because they run on a single track and don’t pocket (disappear into the wall when open). For these reasons, the extra-thick walls needed to make some of our Big Doors work aren’t necessary with this option. Another thing to know when considering these doors is that they are top hung, which makes them easy to operate. This also means the header (a heavy beam that runs above a window or door and diverts the weight of walls or roof) is key. Your builder or contractor will be able to help you through the structural factors associated with installing Folding Outswing doors.
  • I love Folding Outswing doors, but I don’t have room. Good news! Folding outswing doors can be configured as a window too. If you don’t have enough space for a door, a Pass-through window will allow you to fully open your home to the outdoors. It’s an especially nice option when your patio or deck is on the other side of your kitchen, because it makes a perfect set-up for an outdoor bar or serving area.
  • What's the story with 100 Series windows? Think of 100 Series windows as the easy, modern option. They feature thin, streamlined frames and more glass — hallmarks of a modern window. They’re available in our go-to modern styles — awning, gliding and casement — as well as picture, single-hung and specialty shapes. They’ll work for most any budget, and they’re also our only series made of engineered Fibrex® material inside and out, which is virtually maintenance free.

Adams’ home proves the right windows and doors can really bring an aesthetic to life, while also making an indoor/outdoor lifestyle possible no matter the climate!

Sign up for emails

Get inspiration delivered

Beautiful projects, useful selection tips, and tools for planning your project — get it all in your inbox.