Design Tips

Lucy Earl's creative space-saving solution to accommodate visiting grandchildren. Photos by Beth Singer
Lucy Earl's creative space-saving solution to accommodate visiting grandchildren. Photos by Beth Singer

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Design Dilemmas

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when confronting a design dilemma. When all hope is lost, a professional can often provide a solution that we never thought possible. A few of area’s top interior designers share some of their most innovative design solutions.

Lucy Earl of Jones-Keena & Co. recently put her problem-solving skills to the test in the renovation of a local clients’ Miami Beach high-rise condominium. The snowbird clients are devoted to their five grandchildren and wanted their sophisticated (but small) condo to be welcoming to young visitors. Lucy's creative space-saving design combined a children's suite and playroom with "now you see them, now you don't" bunk beds.  Problem solved – happy clients and happy grandchildren!

Barbi Krass of Colorworks Studio was enlisted to help a client with an outdated condo with carpeted floors, mantel, wall-dividing great room from foyer, and lack of natural light. Two windows above the existing windows flanking the fireplace were added for additional natural light in the room. A simple stone tile facade with a custom “cuff” surround in ribbon mahogany helps the fireplace wall become a focal point. The carpet was removed and an oak floor with a walnut stain throughout the space was added. They floated the furniture to give the feeling of spaciousness, yet remaining cozy.

“We started working on this home in the infancy stages of construction. The home is in Bloomfield Hills on the prestigious Oakland Hills Golf Course. The original plan started with a built-in concept for the fireplace. As the overall plan started taking shape for this home, the built-in concept seemed less likely the solution for the space. The client wanted a limestone mantel with an 85” TV above the fireplace, which also did not feel right for the space. I selected this beautiful woven walnut material and the clients instantly loved it. The size of the TV was the driving force behind the width and height of the overall design. My biggest concern was the size of the TV, but the material selection and design for this fireplace ended up being the perfect solution!” Cheryl Nestro, Tutto Interiors

When Amy Weinstein of AMW Design Studio decided to conduct a major renovation/addition on her home studio she knew it wouldn’t be easy, but welcomed the challenge. She wanted to create a unified space that seamlessly combined her living space with her in-home studio. One of the major components of the renovation was the addition of a kitchen that adjoins her home studio. The open-space plan and the use of similar design elements resulted in a cohesive living space that flow together effortlessly.

With Nuheat’s Mats, stepping barefoot on a bathroom floor is a warm experience.
With Nuheat’s Mats, stepping barefoot on a bathroom floor is a warm experience.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Problem Solved!

Design challenges occasionally present themselves, but a little bit of ingenuity, creativity, and engineering can overcome these problems. MDC’s showrooms have several solutions to solve your décor dilemmas.

Stepping barefoot into the bathroom or kitchen, only to experience the discomfort of cold tile or stone, can be solved easily with Nuheat’s Mat Floor Heating Systems. Similar to an electric blanket for the floor, Nuheat Mats bring even, consistent warmth under tile, stone, laminate, and engineered wood floors – with no cold spots. They can even be used for shower benches. What’s more, Nuheat Mats heat the entire room, not just the floor. Available through Beaver Tile & Stone, Suite 101.

A frequent design conundrum is finding a table with versatility and beauty. That challenge is solved with An Antique from the Hall, from the Castle Bromwich collection for Theodore Alexander. With its Regency style and distressed surface, it looks like an attractive center table, and it can certainly be used for that. It’s also suitable as a dining table for two. But what if you’re hosting a dinner party? The quick and easy solution is to pull out the table’s leaves, which resemble wedges of a pie, and the fold-out extenders. Closed, it’s 38 inches in diameter; opened, it’s 47.25 inches. At Theodore Alexander, Suite 30.

Many people love the look of window shades, but those with young children or pets are discouraged by the hazards of pull strings. Others simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of lowering or raising cords every day. However, the new cordless Sonnette Cellular Roller Shade from Hunter Douglas overcomes those concerns. A battery-operated soft-touch button easily raises or lowers the shade without having to yank on a cord, and its curved shape gently diffuses light. Also, the wand can be easily removed for a clean, sophisticated look. Available in 48 colors and four textures. At Huntington Window Fashions, Suite 96.

Traditional center-drain showers require small tiles and four slopes for draining. But if you prefer the look of larger tiles, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. FreeStyle Linear Drains, from Michigan-based Noble Company, provide design flexibility. Linear drains allow the use of large-format tiles and can be used at the entrance or back of the shower for better drainage. Further, linear drains require the shower floor to be sloped in just one direction. For those with mobility or safety concerns, linear drains obviate the need for the “curb” step in the traditional shower. They can be used at the entrance or back of a shower, and the sleek, minimalist look is attractive to many designers and homeowners. FreeStyle Linear Drains are available in six lengths and have a removable internal strainer for easy maintenance. At Beaver Tile & Stone, Suite 101.

Phillip Jeffries Blur | Photo courtesy of Phillip Jeffries
Phillip Jeffries Blur | Photo courtesy of Phillip Jeffries

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wall-to-Wall Beauty

Wallcoverings are back in a big way, adding style and flair to any room. The options in colorways, textures, and patterns are nearly endless, and the 2018 offerings available at MDC showrooms are making a splash with designers and their clients.

Mary Tennant, owner of Tennant & Associates in Suite 61, has been keeping track of what’s hot in wallcoverings for decades. “A new line of digital prints sold in panels from Phillip Jeffries are really beautiful,” she says. “The great thing about them is you don’t need to hang art on the wall because the wallcovering itself is the art.” Pictured is the “Blur” pattern from Phillip Jeffries, which resembles a large abstract watercolor.

Kristina McGee, former showroom manager at Schumacher, Suite 110, notices a growing trend for wallcoverings depicting scenes. “We just launched a partnership with Iksel, a British company that specializes in scenes. They have a beautiful Italian scene, a chinoiserie scene, and so on,” she says. “We’re proud to be the only distributor of Iksel in the United States.” Shown is Iksel’s “Bagatelle” pattern.

“We’re finding that people are more willing today to go out on a limb and be more adventurous and bold with wallcoverings,” comments Dawn Tennant, showroom manager at Rozmallin, Suite 60. To prove her point, she cites the popularity of the “Tibet” pattern, from Clarence House (pictured, in “Blues”). “When I saw it in a Grosse Pointe powder room, it looked absolutely spectacular,” she says. The print, available in nine colorways, was adapted from a watercolor by Japanese artist Kazumi Yoshida.