This dreamy greenhouse provides the perfect escape from the outside world.
BY BRYAN GOTTLIEB / PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRETT MOUNTAIN
As a child growing up on a farm in Michigan’s Thumb, Edith Brown developed a passion for gardening that has endured into adulthood. “My mom was always out there in the garden, planting and tending,” recalls Edith, who asked that we use a pseudonym for privacy. “Gardening is a lot of fun … and it’s very relaxing.”
Now, with help from her husband, Lance (also not his real name), and Detroit design studio RL Concetti, Edith has the ultimate spot to exercise her green thumb — and find some tranquility.
Several years ago, the Browns decamped from downtown Rochester to a sprawling, 165-acre property in Oakland Township. The couple, now in their early 50s, spent 18 months building a contemporary country home on a meadow adjacent to a woodlot with 100-year-old trees.
Located within eyesight of the couple’s primary home, the glass-and-stone greenhouse — which, at 16 feet by 30 feet, is about the size of a Manhattan studio apartment — serves as more than just a place to simply house flowers. The Browns own a networking and security firm, and the frenetic nature of their work means downtime is a necessity. “We wanted [the greenhouse] far enough away from the main home that it felt like a destination for [Edith] so she could disconnect a bit,” Lance says.
Constructing a greenhouse is no slap-dash affair. From conception to ribbon-cutting, the process took about three years, and required pouring 48-inch-deep footings to safeguard the structure from heaving through Michigan’s thaw and freeze cycles. Installation of a full utilities complement (electric, gas, water, storm and sanitary access) was also necessary. In keeping with a country aesthetic, the greenhouse’s utility room, clad in reclaimed wood, recalls a prairie shed on the Great Plains. But that, along with the large workbench Edith found in California and which anchors the interior space, remains secondary to the flowers: approximately 22 raised beds of roses in several varieties.
“It’s our first winter with [the rose bushes] growing all year, and figuring out how they’re going to grow … has been really great,” Edith says, adding that detailed record-keeping allows her to gauge the efficacy of watering and feeding. “Sort of a little scientific thing.”
With the greenhouse wired for sound and a table and chairs set up, Edith says she can stay in her “second home” for hours, enjoying breakfast and soaking in the Zen vibes. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful space,” she says. “I just absolutely love it.”
Read about more beautiful Metro Detroit homes and cool spaces here.