Design Tips

Pecky cypress was used on the walls throughout this Florida home by Kathleen McGovern. Photo by Jeff Garland

Pecky cypress was used on the walls throughout this Florida home by Kathleen McGovern. Photo by Jeff Garland

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Open Floor Plans

While prior to World War II, most homes had a central hallway that provided access to separate rooms with specific functions, innovations in construction materials and a more casual lifestyle have given way to homes with more open concepts. Several of the area’s top interior designers share their tips for creating functional open floor plans for their clients’ homes.

“We recently completed a vacation home in Casey Key, Florida. Off the kitchen we were able to create multiple seating areas that allowed a view of the ocean from every angle. Managing the flow of the continuing space is very important when designing and furnishing an open floor plan. The consistent use of color and material allows the eye to move easily from one space to another. Not only did we continue the use of color in the chosen fabrics but also in the pecky cypress used to cover the walls.” – Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

“It is important to work off the architectural features when creating a floor plan. For example, this large fireplace and pitched ceiling called for a large sectional and entertainment center that complemented the grand scale. Directly behind the sectional is a small game table centered on a narrow two-story wall. We used a textural wallcovering and three pendant lights to accentuate the wall and centered the game table on it. By working with the architecture, we were able to successfully create two distinct areas while maintaining an open floor plan. To successfully create an open floor plan you need to find ways to delineate space. Two ways to do this is through thoughtful consideration of furniture placement and rugs. By using an 'L' shaped sectional and facing it toward the fireplace, we created a natural barrier to the game table area. We then placed large complementary area rugs to 'ground' each furniture arrangement, making each space feel warm and inviting yet open.” – Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC

“My client’s home on Lake Michigan illustrates two major challenges of open floor plans – color flow and furniture placement. The same background wall color (Sherwin Williams #6128 Blonde) travels from the dining room through the great room and into the kitchen. Because of the change in ceiling height in the kitchen, we could have transitioned from the lighter blonde shade to a darker tone but chose not to at my client’s request. For the furnishings, we used an analogous color scheme of related earth tones and color mapped/repeated those colors across the entire space to create flow and unity. With an open floor plan, conversational spaces are created by floating the furniture in groupings. The sitting area in the great room illustrates this point, grounded by an area rug that defines the space and highlights our color palette.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

The key to managing an open floor plan, per Jones-Keena & Co. principal Lucy Earl, is appropriate furniture placement to define the space. In this large open room of a new-build home, Lucy incorporated six distinct living areas using furniture alone. The modern room includes a kitchen, breakfast bar, dining area, fireside seating, entertainment/TV area and a wall-length banquette – which allows for extra dining space. The clients enjoy this room being the central hub of their beautiful new home. – Lucy Earl, Jones Keena & Co.

“It is important in open space planning that the rooms flow together by using the same flooring throughout. Don’t have wood in one place and tile or carpet in another. This new kitchen (pictured above) had the wall removed between kitchen and the dining room for an open look. All of the flooring in the dining room, living room, kitchen, and foyer were replaced with wood flooring for a continuous look. More cabinets were added along the back wall to the dining room window. Moving and not centering the dining table and chandelier made the dining room very workable with the extension table and freed up floor space. In the other kitchen pictured above a wall was removed where the kitchen separates the lounge area. A support beam column was added on the countertop, opening up the whole kitchen/entertaining area. The column is not just a column in that it has very narrow cabinets on three sides for spice storage.” – Lois Haron, Designs in Decorator Wood & Laminates Ltd.

Elizabeth Jones of E.W. Kitchens suggests maximizing vertical space when designing a pantry.
Elizabeth Jones of E.W. Kitchens suggests maximizing vertical space when designing a pantry.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Refresh and Rejuvenate

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays have passed, there is no better time than the new year to get organized. Whether it’s a butler’s pantry or a walk-in closet, these multi-functional spaces offer great storage solutions that help create order for the homeowners.

“A functional and organized pantry is one of the most significant pieces in your kitchen remodel. The secret lies in maximizing your pantry’s organizational capabilities so that you can keep it fully stocked and functional. Whether your space is large or small, consider the following ideas: Organize with shelves and racks (think spice racks), maximize vertical space (for storing that seasonally used small appliance) and invest in canisters, jars, and baskets (hide all the mess in an aesthetically pleasing way).”
– Elizabeth Jones, Showroom Manager at E.W. Kitchens

“This large pantry is an essential staging area for the whole operation of the kitchen. The pantry is built off the kitchen and there is an entrance from the garage, so it’s easy to drop off groceries on the island before having to put them away in the cupboards. There is a lot of storage – including a pull-out drawer for shoes and another for coats. The sink is used to make floral arrangements and for prepping for parties. There is a small beverage refrigerator in this pantry island. There are also smartphone device chargers built into some drawers. Venetian plaster was applied to the ceiling in the pantry to add depth and to balance the visual weight of the floor. A casual knob was selected for the cabinet hardware to complement the sink and faucet. The floors are hand-scraped walnut. Windows were added above the counter to let natural light in.”
– Jane Synnestvedt, Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design Inc.

This laundry / mudroom, designed by Lucy Earl of Jones-Keena & Co., is part of a whole home new-build construction on Torch Lake, Michigan. The space follows much of the theme of the home, particularly the nearby red/white/black kitchen. The entrance to the room is through a sliding red barn door. Metallic tile lines the walls; hand-crafted metallic grass cloth reaches above the cabinets to the ceiling. The counters and sink are warm soapstone. The clients are both veterinarians and doggy-details mattered. Look closely: their pups are both lounging in their specially designed, custom-built kennels!

The butler’s pantries in these kitchens, designed by Jennifer Taylor of Jennifer Taylor Studio, both display her clients’ substantial collections of crystal. The upper cabinet interiors are well lit and highlight the crystal's beauty, creating an eye-catching glow. The clients have additional pantries for food staples, so these lower cabinets serve as storage for large serving pieces. The counters offer staging space for food and a surface for pouring beverages en route to the dining room.

Design by Jones-Keena & Co. | Photograph by Beth Singer
Design by Jones-Keena & Co. | Photograph by Beth Singer

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Value of Hiring an Interior Designer

Some people know they could use an interior designer’s expertise, but they just don’t know where to begin. Michigan Design Center is here to help. Our pool of Featured Designers are the experts who can help you realize your design dreams.

Have a clear idea of your wants and needs. Are you looking to renovate a kitchen, update a bath, or would you like your entire home to be refurbished? To get a sense of designers’ specialties, as well as to see a portfolio of their work, go to and the Find a Designer tab. MDC also has a complimentary Designer Referral service to help you narrow your search. Contact Emily Crawford at 248.649.4772 or

One of the benefits of hiring a designer is that, along with their skillful planning and exclusive resources, they know the most capable tradespeople to bring on board, so you can avoid costly mistakes. Many designers offer a complimentary consultation. Once you decide to hire a designer, he or she will discuss the budget for your project with you – and try to keep within those boundaries.

Some people worry that a designer will impose his or her tastes on you. But good designers listen to their clients and create spaces tailored to their unique personalities and needs. You’ll be delighted with how a designer can make your home comfortable, livable – and personal.