When photographer Mae Stier made the decision to vacate city life and move to the quieter shores of Lake Michigan, she began her home search with a level of patience and consideration many of us jump-the-gunners might be envious of. Coming from years of living in metropolitan areas, Mae was accustomed to the white-walled, high-ceilinged aesthetics of urban lofts, amenities that she didn’t want to give up just because she was shifting to greener pastures. “The homes here are older, and many were originally built as cottages or second homes,” Mae says. “I had been dreaming for a while that I would move here, but I wasn’t in a rush and hadn’t found a spot that really stuck out to me.” The perfect spot came somewhat serendipitously when she spotted a grocery store posting for the rental that would become her home: a quaint, 1930s clapboard cottage, just minutes from the lake. At 500 square feet, it was decidedly spall-space-living, but it had everything that Mae was looking for. “I immediately thought, ‘This is my house.'”
Mae moved in shortly after New Years and has spent the last six months making the space her own. “My goals in creating this space were to stay consistent with the cottage vibe, while implementing modern pieces and keeping the overall decor fairly minimal,” she says. The biggest challenge? Adapting the small space to fit with her love for entertaining.” I wanted to be very intentional about creating spaces to host people,” she continues. By keeping things simple (Mae developed a less-is-more mentality throughout her decorating process) and thinking creatively about how space was used, she was able to give this tiny space a big amount of heart and charm. Take a closer look below!
“Living in a small space means that it can feel cluttered fairly quickly,” Mae says, “so I have done by best to only purchase pieces as I noticed a need for them, and to let books and plants (two of my favorite things) serve as the main decor.”
“The most significant challenge with my space is the combination of my home’s size and my desire to host people. It doesn’t offer a ton of room for large gatherings, and there isn’t space indoors for a dining table. But considering the fact that Michigan summers are incredible and a time when everyone wants to be outside anyway, I created a gathering space perfect for meals and late-night campfires. My Dad built a farm table and benches which can seat 14 people, and we strung bistro lights overhead so the dinners can extend late into the evening.”
“My absolute favorite thing [about my home] is its location. I am a ten minute walk to Lake Michigan, and I spend time on the shore almost every day. If we’re talking about the construction of my home, though, I would have to say the tall ceilings and the loft space. It is such a perfect utilization of the square footage, and makes for a cozy spot to be, no matter the season.”