Design Tips

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

Colorful accents and artwork provided the finishing touches in this black and white space by Phyllis Whitehead.
Colorful accents and artwork provided the finishing touches in this black and white space by Phyllis Whitehead.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Finishing Touch

No room design is complete without the finishing touch – the design elements that complete a room and tie everything together. Whether it be an area rug, artwork, colorful accents, or a unique fabric, these top designers share how they created fully finished spaces for their clients.

“For this space, the classic black and white theme is punctuated with colorful accents and artwork. Painting the ceiling beams in high-gloss black, piping the sofas with black patent leather, and the shiny black lamps are finishing touches that create a cohesive yet exciting spin on a classic theme. The custom cabinets in the back were designed to showcase the owner’s collection of art in a way that does not distract from the overall theme but rather accents it. Small colorful art pieces enliven the space without being overpowering. Overall, being able to successfully incorporate color in a room that has a black and white theme helps create a harmonious and unique space.”
– Phyllis Whitehead, Fifi & Coco Interiors

“A current trend in homes is wood flooring. Area rugs are great for adding color, warmth, and style. In many cases, the area rug is selected first and sets the color scheme for the room. However, sometimes it is added as a finishing touch to a space. Such is the case in the master bedroom of my clients’ lake house. The room has wonderful visual elements: the spectacular view of the lake, the contrast of a deep sable finish on the furniture against the white oak floors, and lush custom silk bedding. But it needed a bit of texture and pattern and softness under foot...a bit of art on the floor. In keeping with the modern Prairie-style architecture of the home, we selected an Arts and Crafts inspired area rug from The Ghiordes Knot. The warm sunset colors of the rug echo the color palette of the home and add depth and a finishing touch to this space.”
– Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

“When adding the finishing touches to any space, it’s important that every piece has a purpose and helps to tie the room together. Finishing touches are not after-thoughts; rather, these details help to make the space feel layered, intentional, and complete. In this room, we used furniture and accessories that complement the cozy elements of the plush sofa and rug while also adding bursts of color and interest that make the space feel dynamic. The window treatments and plump pillows encourage the homeowners to sit down and relax, while the vibrant art and eye-catching coffee table enliven the room with a fun energy. These finishing touches help achieve the perfect balance of inviting and invigorating.”
– Carrie Long, Carrie Long Interiors
Wallpaper: Phillip Jeffries from Tennant & Associates

"The playful vernacular of the cherry blossom fabric set the stage for the midcentury silhouettes in this master suite. With this delightful mix of colors at the forefront, it was the perfect layer to pull the entire space together without leaving any aspect of the design behind. Having this fabric as a focal helped to guide the selections process and created quite the conversation piece."
– Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC
Lounge chairs and headboard: RJ Thomas
Chair and pillow fabric: Robert Allen Duralee Group

The gray extra-textured rug from The Ghiordes Knot pulled together the elements of the glass table with a metal base and the two sofas with metal legs from The Designer Group Collection.  It also worked well with the stainless metal that I added to the existing 10' tall fireplace.”
– Lois Haron, Lois Haron Designs

“This bedroom is meant to be uncluttered and peaceful, but finishing touches are all important in adding to the overall design of the room. Thibaut fabrics add luxury to the tufted Lancaster bed while Visual Comfort lighting adds unexpected glamour. The RJ Thomas chest is accessorized with assorted objects.”
– Jane Synnestvedt, Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design Inc.