By Kitty Golding
Kitty & Company will be conducting a series of short interviews with Chelsea Residents for 52 weeks, bringing to light differing personalities and design styles in our community. Perhaps you will meet someone new through these weekly interviews or perhaps it will be YOU! Stay tuned and follow us each week – we now introduce you to: Mrs. LeeAnn Shanahan.
What are your current professions? I’ve been working at United Producers for 3-4 years and of course, a lifetime of farming.
Your family members: Tom (husband) Scott and Stacy (Children).
People think of me as: Quiet but really I can get fiesty at times.
When did you move to Chelsea and where did you live prior to coming to Chelsea? I grew up in Dexter and moved here in 1978 after marrying Tom. We bought a home on Ellsworth Lake, down the road from our current home. In 1983 we bought the farm on which we now live.
What do you love about where you currently live? We drove by this place for years and I love farmhouses so when it came up for sale – we nabbed it. I love that I can go do everything right here in my yard and home. We have the vegetable garden and some fruit trees, we raise beef, chickens, goats and sheep, there is plenty of fresh air and our views are just beautiful land.
If you could have a second home anywhere, where would it be? We actually have a cottage on Houghton Lake, Mi. My grandpa bought land there in the 1920’s and built this cottage. I have been going up there since I was little. I enjoy the fact that I can decorate that one differently than my home here in Chelsea. We have a fishing theme going there.
What three words describe your style? Country, laid back and multi-dimensional.
Who most influenced your design styles? No one in particular, however my dad refinished antiques and I grew up around old furnishings. My mom collected old cracker jars but really I have always had a love of old things and I knew I wanted to decorate with items as such.
What are you most inspired by in your design/decor? I love history of any kind-so you will find historical books on my shelves and vintage décor that I have collected, along with sentimental pieces that have been passed down in my family. Our farmhouse itself is a piece of history, so it is fitting to fill it with these items.
When entering your home, how do you want it to feel? I want it to be a welcoming and fun place to visit with elements of surprise. We do not have a cookie- cutter home, therefore our interior décor is filled with interesting finds and antiques that we have collected. We want our guests to see things they may not expect to see, like the red wheeled cart in my front room that housed plants.
What is one element or trend in design you do not like? A white monochromatic scheme. I don’t mind having a white base, but then want to layer with color and accents that play off of each other.
How have you remodeled your farmhouse? We built a ‘great room’ addition in 2002, that now encompasses our everyday living. It was built off the back of our home and took over what used to be a large woodshed. I designed this room with lots of windows and a door off the back to access the gardens. We have also remodeled our kitchen, keeping it a large country style but added Amish made cabinets, and old-fashioned looking appliances which fit right into the style of this home.
What is some history on your home? The main level of our home was built in the Civil War era and the upstairs and front parlor were added on 7 years later. We had to do a bit of work right away, but aside from our addition, we just work on the home little by little when we have time. The main barn, original to the house, is falling apart so we have built various other barns – it is constant up-keep. My husband’s grandparents Centennial Farm is up the road and we inherited that farm, but the house had to be torn down several years back. Another interesting fun fact is that while we were in the middle of building our addition, we were approached by a movie producer that wanted to use our farm to make a horror movie about an 1800’s family. We gave them permission and they filmed in the barns and in the front parlor, using our antiques and accessories as props. The movie was called, “Lurking Terror”. We were invited to the premiere, but didn’t go and have never seen the movie.
If you were moving and could only select one item from your home to keep, what would it be? My grandmother’s pine cupboard in the dining room with many collectibles and antiques in it. We moved it from her farmhouse.
Which room in your home gets the most use? Our Great room which includes our dining area, the TV, our fire stove and a lot of windows with natural light and great views of the flower garden and the variety of birds that come visit. We spend 90% of our time in this large room, reading, eating, and relaxing together.
No room is complete without: A candle. I love them as accessories and I enjoy burning them.
Has any local venue particularly caught your eye - if so why? Well – it’s not really a store front, but Roots and Iron is intriguing (interviewed by you in Week 31). I look forward to soon working with John Tripolsky and having him fashion a mantle from our original 1860’s barn that will soon come down. I also want to have him build a table/desk for my husband and use some of the barn wood in our entry way.
A few of your favorite things!
Movie – The Blue and the Gray (a Mini-Series).
Favorite Historical Place You have visited – Hannibal, MO and Gettysburg, PA.
Scent – Cinnamon and Lavender
TV Show- None in particular – we don’t watch that much TV, but I do read a lot of books.
Meal – Grilled steak
Travel Destination -I would go back to Alaska. We went on a summer cruise and land excursion including Denali Park. We would like to go back and do the “un-touristy” parts.
Season - Fall
Color- All the shades of blues
Favorite thing to Collect – Various antiques
Museum – Locally, The Waterloo Farm Museum - A national one would be The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. ( a favorite city of mine).
Hobbies- Reading, collecting antiques, and cross stitch.
Item on a bookshelf – Civil war books , travel books and history Books.
Pets?- We have one dog and one cat inside.
LeeAnn and her family are the constant smiling friendly faces on my way up and down our country lane. They live 2 addresses down from us and their farm fills our road with the sounds I love of mooing and baaing! I’ve always admired their farmhouse and wondered about the history it must possess. It was fascinating for me to be able to walk back in time and learn more about this historical gem. One of the front rooms in the house, the parlor, will someday soon be turned into a Generational Farm Room, showcasing photos of the various family farms, farm collectibles and sentimental antiques. This room is trimmed in beautiful molding and old pine wood floors, and is a work in progress.
LeeAnn has filled many roles throughout her time in Chelsea, including working in food service in the school system, to filling roles such as Election Inspector and investing time on township boards. I know she works sun-up to sun-down between her job, her family and the farm. When I arrived, she had just finished canning a batch of applesauce from her 4 in 1 apple tree and had farm chores to do after I left. I can tell though that she wouldn’t have it any other way. The farming life is in her blood.