In 1834, a classic Greek Revival Farmhouse was built and three years later a gorgeous barn was constructed on the same property. That was the same year that Michigan became a state. Fastforward 185 years, and today the Dexter facility, called Zingerman’s Cornman Farms about 10 miles from downtown Ann Arbor, attracts meetings and special events throughout the year.
Recently, the quintessential farmhouse was given an interior makeover by former editor-in-chief of Domino magazine-turnedcreative-consultant Michelle Adams, and her design partner, Emily Schoen of The Maryn in Ann Arbor. Their mission was to take the farmhouse, which was basically a blank slate, and design purposeful rooms that made it feel like a home again.
Adams and Schoen redesigned seven rooms, including a cozy library that houses the owner’s cookbook collection. It’s just one of the many spaces that can accommodate members of an off-site meeting.
“The Farmhouse can accommodate 75 guests for a strolling event and 50 guests for a seated event,” says Jamie Gray, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms marketing and communications manager.
The end result of the redesign perfectly reflects the personality of the venue’s owner and executive chef, Kieron Hales, who hails from Devon, England. The eclectic interiors are representative of an English country estate, juxtaposing quirky antiques with sleek modern shapes.
Incidentally, in 2008, Hales joined food emporium Zingerman’s and became executive chef of Zingerman’s Roadhouse, then opened the current Zingerman’s Cornman Farms.
“The designers understood my personality and heritage and translated it into the design of the Farmhouse,” says Hales, whose career began in England at the age of 13, when he went to the Specialized Chefs School in Bournemouth. Upon graduating, he joined the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts at age 17 and embarked on a career that has taken him around the globe. Of note: The celebrated chef has cooked for the British Royal family and three U.S. presidents.
“Our venue hosts some very important events, and thus we wanted to keep the design very elegant and classy. Yet, I am often described as quite a quirky, energetic and sometimes nostalgic individual, and the designers wanted to reflect that. The end result is a quintessential English home with some wonderfully eccentric and whimsical accents,” Hales says.
Since the redesign, he adds, guests who’ve hosted or attended events here never want to leave.
"When you host an event at Cornman Farms, we want you to feel as if you are at the home of a family member,” Hales says, “a place that is always warm, welcoming and serving incredibly delicious food."