Design Tips

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

Jane Synnestvedt’s clients display a collection of African artifacts from their travels. Photo by George Dzahristos
Jane Synnestvedt’s clients display a collection of African artifacts from their travels. Photo by George Dzahristos

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Homage to Heritage

Design elements from around the world have long influenced interior design and acted as a source of inspiration. Whether inspired through travel or to honor their own culture, these top designers share how they incorporate global elements into their clients’ homes.

“These artifacts are from my client’s own collection. They have traveled the world and brought back items from Africa including masks, sculptures, clothing, and a sword. We worked to incorporate them into the décor of their home. In the dining area of the kitchen we also incorporated a beautiful funeral blanket that the clients found on a trip to Thailand. The painted wood bowl over the doorway in the kitchen is also from travels in Africa.”
 Jane Synnestvedt, Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design Inc.
Table and dining chairs: RJ Thomas, Ltd.

“Originally from New England, this client wanted a space that reminded her of her childhood home. Custom millwork and layers of lighting bring an abundance of sophisticated charm without ever sacrificing functionality. A standout feature of this home is the custom built-in storage, complete with a bench seat for the daughter to indulge her love of reading. The custom built-in was the perfect opportunity to highlight the family’s travels from around the globe while featuring photos of their children. Adding unique elements such as an intricate fan brought home from their travels in Asia is what makes this house a home. It's all about the adventures we take together and the memories they create.”
 Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC
Fireplace tile: Virginia Tile Company
Sconces: City Lights Detroit

“These clients love all things French. After buying a property in France, they traveled and scoured the French countryside for antiques to bring to the home they were building back in Michigan. French stone masons and master carvers were brought in to create the fireplace in this great room.”
 Colleen Farrell, Colleen Farrell Design
Chandelier: City Lights Detroit
Fabrics and trim: Tennant & Associates and Kravet

“This room was a 'flight of fancy' for me. I have never been to Morocco but have been intrigued by the saturated colors, intricate designs, striking architecture, and multi-cultural influences from that part of the world. I also wanted to celebrate the freedoms won by women in that culture when I designed this vignette.”
 Gail Urso, Urso Designs
Rugs: The Ghiordes Knot
Sectional: Kravet / Lee Jofa / Brunschwig & Fils
Coffee table: Hickory Chair Interior Design Showroom
Chandelier: RJ Thomas, Ltd.
Pillow fabric: Pindler

“My client comes from Romania. These are all treasures of her parents and grandparents, which include multi-color and clear crystal goblets with some silver in one cabinet and porcelain dishes and serving pieces in the other cabinet. The home is contemporary. I designed these cabinets with framed glass doors and sides with thicker glass shelves and lighting all the way through to give the collection the most visibility and show its importance.”
 Lois Haron, Lois Haron Designs