Design Tips

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.

Carrie Long created a seamless flow from living room to outdoor room using a folding door. Photo by Steve Thompson
Carrie Long created a seamless flow from living room to outdoor room using a folding door. Photo by Steve Thompson

Monday, June 3, 2019

Outside Interests

After a long winter and chilly spring, it’s high time to let the sunny outdoors take center stage – even if it’s from an indoor vantage point. Whether it’s a sunroom bathed in light, a veranda to enjoy soft breezes, or a true indoor/outdoor space, some of the area’s top designers have their own unique ideas for making the most of the summer sun.

“We wanted to create an indoor/outdoor living space in its truest form. The flow from the living room to outdoor dining room is made seamless with the use of a Nana Door, which folds into the wall, connecting the two spaces perfectly. A plank ceiling on the exterior lanai complements the beams on the living room ceiling, and the exterior stone is the same used on the living room, creating a cohesive look. Pollack fabrics (available at Tennant & Associates) were used on the interior sofa and chairs.”
– Carrie Long, Carrie Long Interiors

“This home is traditional and beautifully decorated with antiques and custom pieces, so it was important that the sunroom flow with the rest of the house while still making it spring-like. Bursts of color helped to create this environment. The goal was to create a three-season space that made you feel you were experiencing the outdoors. All of the fabrics are practical – easy-care Crypton with the softness of regular fabrics. Window shades were added to protect fabrics in seasons when the room is not used. The Thibaut sofa and chair, as well as the window treatments and trims, are from Duralee, RADG. The rugs are from The Ghiordes Knot, and Decoroom fabricated the chair cushions, pillows, and window treatments.”
– Jane Synnestvedt, Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design

“This sunroom has doors that open up onto a large deck. Although there’s easy access to the outdoors, the large windows permit the sun to pour in all year long, making it seem you’re outside, whatever the season. The two lounge chairs are upholstered in Kravet fabric, while the ottoman is upholstered in a Lee Jofa fabric, also from Kravet. The ceiling fan is from Lighting Resource Studio.”
– Gail Urso, Urso Designs

“This coastal retreat was a much smaller space for our clients, who moved down the beach to a modest 2,400-square-foot bungalow. It was very important for them to continue to have outdoor living spaces to enjoy the Gulf breezes and breathtaking views year-round. The connecting wall is made completely of glass with French doors, so the rooms became one to allow for entertaining. The lanai is enclosed with a special “Phantom” screening material, which makes it virtually invisible. It was important to use outdoor “performance” fabrics in the entire home, including window treatments; furniture had to be weather tolerant. We chose to keep the palette neutral to allow the water and landscaping to be the color stars, but we added complementary colors in the lighting and pillows to remain true to our design style. The sofa is by Kravet; fabric by Pindler; pillows in fabric from Duralee, RADG. McGuire ottomans from Baker Furniture, in Pindler fabric; window treatments from Schumacher. Vintage reed chairs reupholstered in Pindler fabric; pillow fabric from Rozmallin. Outdoor furniture: Lloyd Flanders, Duralee RADG; Outdoor pillows: fabric by Kravet.”
– Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

“I used modern efficiencies in the renovation of this 115-year-old lakeside Michigan cottage. For the screened porch, I selected a composite Trex flooring resembling wood that will not fade, rot, or attract insects, and it withstands the elements. A paneled screen and insulated wall system by Sunspace was installed to allow the owners to use the room three seasons. When furnishing indoor-outdoor rooms, I select all-weather fabrics. In this room, I used outdoor furniture from Lloyd Flanders (from Duralee, RADG). Side tables are stone, which are impervious to weather. I chose a zinc dining table in indoor and outside rooms. It is extremely durable, non-porous, and easy to clean, while remaining stylish.”
– Lucy Earl, principal, Jones-Keena & Co.

“We recently enclosed this charming open-air gazebo into a four-season sunroom by adding floor-to-ceiling windows, drywall, new hardwood flooring, and all-new furnishings for our clients, who can unwind and enjoy their beautiful view of the Huron River. We designed the fenestration to include an asymmetrical collection of both tall and shorter windows to give unencumbered views in the best directions. The key to a successful indoor/outdoor space is to choose colors that don’t compete with nature or the view beyond. We stuck to a tight palette of greens, blues, browns, and grays; colors drawn directly from the riverscape outside. We painted the trim green to further direct the eye past the interior space to the view beyond. Each upholstered piece has an indoor/outdoor fabric. The sofa and chair are from Wesley Hall, through RJ Thomas. The sofa fabric is Great Plains, through Tennant & Associates, while the chair fabric is from Pindler. The table, floor lamp, and rug are all from Kravet. The stool and pendant are Palecek, available at RJ Thomas, and the ottoman fabric is Osborne & Little, through Rozmallin.”
– Laura Zender, Laura Zender Design