Michigan architect and interior designer Angie Lane shares a bold, colorful declaration that, yes, Midwesterners have style, and here’s how it works in her new book “Midwest Modern Manifesto.” We’re obsessed.  

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our magazine library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Angie Lane was (partly) raised in the house her father was born in—an old, once-upon-a-time farmhouse in a small town outside of Lansing. While interior decorating wasn’t exactly her father’s thing, she does remember afghans hand-knit by her aunts (“some of them were, well, you know, hideous, but some of them I still have,” Lane says). Her dad and aunts also collected pudding stones—a rare composite stone left by glaciers found only in several places in the world, Michigan among them. As a child, she filed those objects away in her memory—cherishing their shapes, colors and the nostalgic feelings they conjured.

Later, Lane attended University of Michigan for undergraduate and graduate studies, leaving with a Masters of Architecture degree. Before opening her own practice, Lane worked for several architectural firms, including one that also offered interior design services—a side of the design world Lane found she loved. “It’s so much more tactile than the architectural side,” she says. “You’re getting samples, you’re testing colors and searching for different furniture shapes.”

Unique and colorful entrance into home

Photo by Martin Vecchio Photography

All of those shapes and colors got Lane thinking that she could figure out a “system” for isolating what makes an interior feel balanced—without repressing individual expression. “It’s just kind of how my brain works, I like to simplify things,” she says. Eventually, Lane developed her own design formula: A (hard pattern) + B (soft pattern) + C (bright color) + D (nostalgic/ eclectic). Take those afghans—they’d give a room both A (hard pattern), C (bright color) and D (nostalgic/eclectic). The pudding stones? Those are B (soft pattern) for their curved shapes.

The magic in Lane’s formula is that A, B, C and D don’t have to be equal parts—and the formula could be used in regions other than the Midwest—although the very warmth inherent in the formula rules out anything too spare and monochromatic. Lane had mused about writing a book demonstrating her theory for a while when Covid hit. The lockdown gave her the time to focus and 10 months later she had produced “Midwest Modern Manifesto—Easy Formula to Get Designer Style in Your Home.” Within the book’s 300-plus colorful pages is an explanation of Lane’s formula, as well as room photos of both her designs and a number of Midwestern interior designers. The book closes with an unexpectedly perfect nod to our regional brand of hospitality: a chapter on colorful, delicious cocktails. As she writes with exquisite Midwestern pragmatism: “You’ve flipped through this long-ass book, now it’s time to relax. Cheers!”

View examples of Lane’s ABCD formula below or order Midwest Manifesto here.

Unique living space

Photo by Martin Vecchio Photography

A Hard Pattern: plaid ceiling, art piece
B Soft Pattern: window treatment, rug
C Bright Color: decor, trim, paint
D Nostalgic/Eclectic: letter A, rug, pyramid pillow


“This lounge concept was meant to be feminine meets old school lodge where the lodge elements were used in an atypical way: oversized plaid ceiling, abstract wildlife displays and vintage tapestries as pillows instead of wall hangings.”

Green couch in blue room

Photo by Martin Vecchio Photography

A Hard Pattern: rug, windows
B Soft Pattern: nature pattern pillows
C Bright Color: blue wall, green bench
D Nostalgic/Eclectic: wide blue stripe on white wall and ceiling

Unique wall decor

Photo by Martin Vecchio Photography

A Hard Pattern: radiator cover, quilt
B Soft Pattern: table bases
C Bright Color: lamp shade, decor
D Nostalgic/Eclectic: antique chairs, tiki mug


“Here all the displays are abstract representations of all of the state symbols of Michigan. I like all the texture happening in this corner. We’re tactile beings and we like to touch stuff. There’s smooth ceramics, antique wood, basketweave and even concrete nuggets (on the table bases).”

Bold blue bedroom

Photo by Martin Vecchio Photography

A Hard Pattern: rug
B Soft Pattern: pillows
C Bright Color: wall, pillows, art
D Nostalgic/Eclectic: floral painting


“One of my favorite lighting tips: use a swag light from the center fixture spot to the light to end up where you want it. Especially in old houses, there can be limited light fixture locations as well as outlets for lamps.”

Photo(s) by Martin Vecchio Photography