Design Tips

Natural materials create ultimate comfort in this warm, intimate setting by Colleen Farrell. Photo by Beth Singer
Natural materials create ultimate comfort in this warm, intimate setting by Colleen Farrell. Photo by Beth Singer

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Creating Cozy

Many homeowners want their rooms to be cozy and comfortable, especially here in Michigan, where summer gives way all too soon to an extended period of shorter days and colder temperatures. With the holidays just around the corner, we thought it appropriate to highlight some top designers’ favorite spaces that are always popular gathering places for friends and family.

“Natural materials are essential to create ultimate comfort. In the lower-level cigar room, the warm tones of earthen bricks and knotty stained wood, the soft hand of tanned leather, and the warmth of the finest wool underfoot combine with some favorite indulgences.

In the great room, we used layers of soft fabrics to add warmth and created a circle of truly comfortable chairs around a shared ottoman. A foursome can gather for intimate conversation or swivel the chairs to join the rest of the crowd.”
– Colleen Farrell, Colleen Farrell Design
Upholstery fabric and leather: Tennant & Associates
Drapery fabric: Schumacher
Great room area rug: The Ghiordes Knot

“When my clients remodeled their home, they wanted their once-contemporary den, with its laminate built-ins, to become a cozy and warm traditional space where the family convenes to watch TV. Fireplaces have an inherent calming effect with their soul-soothing flames. The one in this room was given greater status by surrounding it with both an exotic granite and custom dark wood cabinets. A deep, rich saturated color was chosen for the walls (Sherwin Williams #6179 Artichoke) to further create a sense of warmth and relaxation. The overstuffed coral sofa, a buttery gold leather recliner and the floral skirted swivel chairs say ‘come sit’ and add to the casual comfort of this gathering space.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs
Sofa and chairs: RJ Thomas, Ltd.
Sofa fabric: Schumacher
Chair fabric: Tennant & Associates
Pillow trim: Designer Furniture Services and Fabrics

“What better way to warm up a room than with walnut floating shelves on a fireplace and a sectional known to feel like a cloud! Adding layers and pattern to this once-streamlined canvas was key for this client to feel as at home and cozy as she did when she lived in Savannah. From the eclectic mixture of shapes, the classic navy and gold additions, and the warmth from the wood elements, this main living space is now the homeowner's favorite place to cuddle up in at the end of a long day.” – Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC
Pillow fabric and window treatment: Rozmallin
Sconces: City Lights Detroit

“A cozy loft area was created for our client’s as a space to get away and relax. The perfect spot to read a good book or snuggle up with your baby, we added soft and luxurious details such as the rug and blanket. The ottoman allows you to put your feet up and really unwind on a chilly fall day!” – Jane Synnestvedt, Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design Inc.
Side table and accessories: Decoroom and Lighting Resource Studio

“The open living/dining room space allows for visiting family and friends to pull up extra chairs at the dining room table to enjoy a meal while others can gather in the cozy, conversation-friendly living room area. In the two-story great room, my clients’ large family often congregate on the floor, chairs, and sofas for games and conversation.”
– Lois Haron, Lois Haron Designs
Living room sofas and table: Designer Group Collection
Great room chairs, throw pillows, and artwork: RJ Thomas, Ltd.
Great room window treatment fabric: Pindler
Area rugs: The Ghiordes Knot

RL Concetti removed the walls and used blue and white to create an open feel. "After" photo by Kris Ilich
RL Concetti removed the walls and used blue and white to create an open feel. "After" photo by Kris Ilich

Monday, September 30, 2019

Designer Horror Stories

From unpleasant surprises in a newly purchased home to DIY projects gone wrong, we’ve all heard (or experienced) horror stories about design projects gone awry. Luckily, interior designers encounter problems like these every day and have the resources and experience needed to conquer all sorts of challenges. Some of the area’s top designers share stories about how they were able to solve tricky problems and treat their clients to a beautiful space.

“The dilemma of a tight space is always a challenge we welcome. For this young client, her home did not reflect the fun and open feel of the lively Detroit River below. With the stunning views that graced every window, there's no reason the client should be not be able to enjoy the scenery while cooking in her kitchen and entertaining friends, so that quickly became the inspiration and focus for our redesign. Adding a deep blue to the walls made for an open feel as it simply becomes a reflection of the river. The bright marble and pure white contrasts throughout allow for the space to feel airy and spacious. Bringing walls down and embracing an open living area has made for a space that anyone would want to cozy up in, or even better, entertain a group while enjoying the view.” – Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC
Tile: Virginia Tile Company

“We have a history of responding to clients’ ‘decorating crises,’ but the crisis was ours when a king size four-poster master bed didn’t clear the hallway entrance to the bedroom. What should have been an easy installation because the bed shipped ‘unassembled,’ ended up requiring five delivery men, scaffolding, a pair of second-floor French doors, and hours of problem solving. ‘Unassembled’ didn't account for all critical structural parts, leaving an unforgiving 1/2-inch shortage in a turn to the bedroom. Everyone took a deep breath and formulated the plan to take the critical pieces, via scaffolding and a lot of determination on a very cold and snowy February day, up to the second floor through a pair of the bedroom’s French doors. After all was said and done, the upholstered king size bed is now the centerpiece of the finished master bedroom. Lesson Learned? Describe ‘Unassembled!’” – Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design
Bed: Hickory Chair Interior Design Showroom
Nightstands, bench, and chair: RJ Thomas, Ltd.
Wallcovering: Rozmallin
Bed fabrics: Pindler
Bench and chair fabrics: Tennant & Associates
Pillows: Kravet and Tennant & Associates
Window treatments: Kravet

“After looking for months at multiple listings, my clients purchased a move-in ready house. Their intent was to just change/add a few things to make the home their own. When I saw the master bath, I groaned. The tub, sink, and toilet and Corian countertops were mint green. The glossy white field tile on the shower wall was repeated on the floor. Not only was that a safety issue (slippery when wet) but several of the tiles were chipped, revealing their red clay base. The ‘move-in ready’ room became a total ’gut-job.’ We kept the basic floor plan but expanded the shower and added storage. Warm tones of cream and bronze tones replaced the former dated look. My clients like a touch of ‘bling,’ so for the window treatment we selected a stylized damask fabric from Pindler that softly shimmers with a Lurex yarn. We enhanced the valance with a beaded fringe trim from Fabricut. Their master bath is now a welcoming and restful space.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs
Valance fabric: Pindler
Valance trim: Designer Furniture Services and Fabrics

Carrie Long used quality materials and a neutral color palette for a timeless look in this living room. Photo by Beth Singer
Carrie Long used quality materials and a neutral color palette for a timeless look in this living room. Photo by Beth Singer

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What Makes a Classic?

Design trends come and go and what seems popular today may be passé tomorrow. Good news! There are many timeless designs with staying power that can keep our homes fresh and current for years to come. Top designers and MDC showroom managers share their favorites.

“Our goal for this room was to create a relaxed and inviting space that would grow with the homeowners. The design mixes clean, geometric lines with plush fabrics, creating a space that is elegant yet durable, ultimately providing a comfortable place where the whole family can gather. The use of quality materials and a neutral color palette evokes a sense of timelessness that will remain classic, allowing the family to enjoy this room together for years to come.”
– Carrie Long, Carrie Long Interiors
Chairs: RJ Thomas, Ltd.
Side table and floor lamps: Visual Comfort
Fabrics: Tennant & Associates

"Classic spaces are tasteful, good looking, and are not overdone. They continue to look fresh as trends come and go. To achieve a timeless and classic look, conscious restraint and carefully selected furnishings should be your guiding principles. As an example, the furniture in the dining room shown was manufactured and purchased in the 1950s and the light fixture has also been in production for at least 40 years. Classic stands the test of time.”
– Amy Miller Weinstein, AMW Design Studio

“Timeless design begins with classic selections including fabrics, finishes, and upholstery. Many classic fabrics are now available in durable options that can withstand everyday living. Classic fabrics to me are patterns that have withstood the test of time: herringbone, stripes, Aubusson florals. In terms of solids, I gravitate toward mohair and velvets for upholstery and silks and linens for draperies and lamp shades. For practicality, I use performance-driven fabrics to deliver longevity to my clients. The balance in the room pictured above is what makes it classic. Pairs of seating, tables, and lamps were all used. A classic rug was selected to ground the space, and crystal accessories are massed for overall effect on the shelves.”
– Jane Synnestvedt, Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design
Area rug: The Ghiordes Knot
Custom pillows: Decoroom
Pillow fabric: Schumacher

Jones-Keena & Co. interior designer Kristin Smith relies on symmetry, monochromatic color schemes, and geometric patterns in her timeless, classic style. Kristin is a believer in clean, simple design (never over-accessorizing) and in utilizing natural light. The renovation of this 1920s Birmingham Tudor reflects many of her favorite design elements. The elegant, rich living room features Tennant & Associates fabric on the sofas and Kravet shearling on the stools flanking the fireplace. The sheer window shade fabric is also from Tennant & Associates. Kristin uses color and symmetry in the master bedroom to create a cozy and warm retreat. Matching bedside chests and mirrors flank the poster bed. Chartreuse fabric on chairs is by Cowan & Tout and by Hyde (Tennant & Associates) on the stool. Bed pillows are by Travers (Kravet).

Maria Kramer, Gallery Director of City Lights Detroit, is surrounded by classic Visual Comfort & Co. designer lighting in the Michigan Design Center showroom. Maria turns to the Chapman & Myers collection for classically influenced style and traditional silhouettes. Visual Comfort’s chief designer, industry legend Sandy Chapman, established this first signature line of products some 30 years ago. Chapman & Myers’ ever-popular George collection of chandeliers and sconces recalls classical inspirations and features crisp crystal and glass bodies which are finely sculpted and wonderfully chic. When working with designers, Maria finds the George line works beautifully in both traditional and contemporary decor.

“Classic design can be achieved with a neutral palette that includes a mix of textures. Wood, wool, and stone elements are always in style. Seen from the street, our homes may resemble others, but within, they express our style and uniqueness. Unlike mass-produced rugs, hand-knotted Tibetan rugs are designed and produced one at a time for people with a passion for design.”
– Coralyn Eddy, Showroom Manager of The Ghiordes Knot