Design Tips

Photos by Beth Singer | Design by Art | Harrison Interiors and Extraordinary Works
Photos by Beth Singer | Design by Art | Harrison Interiors and Extraordinary Works

Monday, February 1, 2016

Get Organized!

Great design not only beautifies our homes, it enhances our lives.  Here’s a look at how several of metro Detroit’s top designers incorporated clever organizational concepts into their clients’ homes.

The kitchen can be one of the most difficult areas of the home to keep clear of clutter, but this contemporary space, designed by Arturo Sanchez and Barry Harrison of Art | Harrison Interiors and Extraordinary Works, has a clean and open aesthetic thanks to several creative storage solutions that conceal utensils and appliances. Even the walk-in pantry is cleverly hidden by a wood-paneled door that mimics the surrounding wall.

His-and-hers closets are a great option to keep your master bedroom organized with designated areas for each member’s belongings. The gorgeous dressing island provides added storage in this well-appointed master closet, designed by Marianne Jones of Marianne Jones LLC. Additionally, the stone floor continues from the bathroom into the closet, keeping the space open and inviting.

Organization in a preteen's bedroom can be challenging, but not impossible. This fun and vibrant sleep-space, designed by Terry Ellis of Room Service Interior Design, has cubbies and under-the-bed drawers, which allow for quick and easy pick-up.

We spend a great deal of time in our homes, so it’s important to design our interior spaces with our family and lifestyles top-of-mind. Each of these spaces, designed by Amy Weinstein of AMW Design Studio (left) and Jane Synnestvedt of Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design (right), offer functional, open storage for the busy families who live there.

Working vertically is a great way to multiply and maximize your available space. This closet, designed by Richard Ross of Richard Ross Designs, uses every square inch of vertical wall space to create ample storage for his client’s extensive wardrobe.

When looking for storage options, it may be beneficial to review your home’s blueprint. Shelves were added within the wall atop the stairs in this condo, designed by Becky Spier Andrews of Interiors by Becky Spier, after discovering there was a considerable amount of unused space within the wall.

Installing an additional towel bar to hang the bath mat is an easy solution to reduce clutter in the bathroom, as seen in this space designed by Pam Livingston Hardy of Creative Renovations. The towel bar for the bath mat is positioned 20 inches from the floor, and the bath towel bar is placed at 66 inches, allowing the mat to dry faster with improved air circulation and remain stored on the towel bar instead of the floor or hanging on a shower door.

Lexington Audrey Sofa | RJ Thomas, Ltd., Suites 77, 80, 82 & 90
Lexington Audrey Sofa | RJ Thomas, Ltd., Suites 77, 80, 82 & 90

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Treat Yourself!

With the holidays officially in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for gift-givers everywhere to treat themselves to something special. We asked some of the area’s top designers which particular design elements they “splurge” on, and which elements they take a more modest approach with, leaving their clients happy while also staying within budget.

"I talk many of my clients into splurging on really high quality upholstery items and long-wearing fabrics. With custom building projects, sometimes by the time you get to the furniture selections, clients are tempted to cut corners. For the seating items you’ll use every day, choose the best quality you can afford. A really good sofa will be far more comfortable and will last for many years. Clients thank me for this advice – nobody has ever said they wish they had bought a cheaper sofa.”
Amanda Sinistaj, Ellwood Interiors

“I make it my aim to use at least one item from Baker Furniture in each room I do. If budget is a concern, I may select a lamp, side table, or accessory. The quality and look of Baker is unparalleled, and even one of two of their items peppered in each room seems to raise the status of things. A particular item I frequently use is the Barbara Barry Bauble Drum. It’s a side table that looks like a million bucks, from a designer that is internationally known, and at a decent price point.”
Teri Main, Main Design Innovations

“I love incorporating special Pewabic tile as the “star” of an application by combining it with a hand-crafted field tile. With hundreds of homes in and around Detroit built during the Arts and Crafts period, Pewabic Tile was very much in demand as an architectural feature for fireplace surrounds, floors, and bathrooms. Homeowners in Detroit and the suburbs have gone to great lengths to preserve their original Pewabic tile, and so it remains a very popular design element. The flip side to this movement are the many beautiful homes built during this period that for one reason or another, lack this historic feature. These homes of a similar age are ripe for renovation, and many homeowners love this design element that is rooted in Detroit's entrepreneurial history. Adding a special Pewabic accent tile at $18.00 each, while selecting a hand-molded field tile from elsewhere that is priced around $35.00/sq. ft., is a beautiful and budget-friendly option. Pewabic field tile can cost up to $250.00/sq. ft.”
Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

Ann-Marie Anton’s “Art of Design” vignette | Photo by Jeff Aisen
Ann-Marie Anton’s “Art of Design” vignette | Photo by Jeff Aisen

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Redesign Round-Up

Michigan Design Center invites top designers to transform our lobby each month, creating an ever-changing environment that reflects very diverse design aesthetics. Designers select items from our showrooms, design the space, and share their tips for pulling it all together.

As 2015 draws to an end, we thought it appropriate to revisit each of these unique lobby designs and share the design tips from the talented designers who created them.


  • Incorporate art into your interior in unexpected ways. The wallpaper by Detroit Wallpaper Company features graffiti, which is art unto itself. It anchors the room and adds interest and whimsy.
  • Celebrate different eras, styles, and designers in your interiors. Mixing wallpaper with a grunge feel with a contemporary rug from The Ghiordes Knot and a sophisticated velvet tufted sofa from Henredon shows a harmonious space that is interesting.
  • When mixing different aesthetics together use a common element that will tie it all together such as color or shape.
  • Make sure a room is balanced in terms of scale, color, and dark vs. light. The strong pattern and color of the wallpaper in this space is balanced by the dark leather chairs.

– Ann-Marie Anton, It’s Personal Design


  • Dress up your home for the holidays by mixing traditional pieces with new contemporary ones. This traditional mirror adds shine to the wool sweater sofa and compliments the blue “Starry Night” wall.
  • Mixing pattern on pattern creates movement and originality throughout the space to keep it active, but draws guests in to relax.
  • A well-dressed table will always pull together any holiday meal. Adding warm lighting and your very best china makes the perfect setting for a holiday toast.

– Valerie Young, Valerie Young Interiors


  • Using a smaller scale wallpaper pattern can allow you to use colors that are more vibrant or rich without overpowering a room.
  • Wallpaper doesn’t have to be an anchor point for color in a room. Using a neutral tone-on-tone colorway will allow you to add pattern or texture to a room without expanding a palette or competing with other color points.
  • Using customizable wallpaper which allows you to choose your own color pallet lets you to refresh a room without having to build around the paper. Instead, you can build the paper around the room and conform to your existing design and palette.
  • Wallpaper, contrary to its name, isn’t just for walls. Wallpapering a ceiling can be an unexpected surprise in a space.

– Andi Kubacki, Detroit Wallpaper Company


  • Timeless pieces never tire, and neutrals are a great base to support color scheme changes. It makes good sense to keep this in mind when committing to major furniture items.
  • Color and pattern is fun and can easily change the mood and feeling of a space. However, reserve color and pattern for pieces that can readily be moved or replaced.
  • Bigger is often better. A few well-chosen accessories of grand scale add greater dramatic impact than a multitude of small items.

– Colleen Farrell, Colleen Farrell Design


  • Choose an item which can inspire a color scheme for your room like this rug from The Ghiordes Knot. The rug has many tones, but you can choose just one or two to carry throughout.
  • If you’re highlighting one color in a space, use varying hues and intensities of that color to create a common thread with some diversity like the yellow tones used here.
  • Make sure you mix in neutrals or muted tones to create a place to rest your eyes. In this space, the upholstered items were kept neutral so that the accents come forward.
  • Changing accent colors over time is an affordable way to give a room a whole new look.
  • Don’t just think of color as fabrics and wallcoverings. Metal and wood have color and can warm and brighten a space as well.

– Margaret Skinner, Margeaux Interiors


  • Set the mood! Hang unique chandeliers outside for some sparkle and added light.
  • Try a pergola to define an outdoor space and provide shade.
  • Install a vertical fireplace to create a focal point. It will become your favorite gathering spot!
  • A fountain will add a peaceful, zen-like feeling and help conceal traffic noise.
  • Add monogram toss pillows and colorful accessories to make your outdoor space yours.

– Paul Feiten, Paul Feiten Design

Be sure to stop by the main lobby next month to view January’s lobby transformation, designed by Amanda Sinistaj of Ellwood Interiors.