Michigan Design
Designer Spotlight


Jimmy AngellMichigan Design Center had the pleasure to spend a little time with Jimmy Angell, 2010 recipient of the Detroit Home Design Awards, Brian Killian Rising Star award. Owner of James Douglas Interiors in Birmingham, Angell recently completed his own home renovation and talked to us about the challenges he faced and he shared some photos of the final outcome.

I love the high contrast in the kitchen...the contrast of darks and lights.
You have just completed your own home renovation, can you share with us any challenges or problems that you encountered?
I was excited when I located a beautiful French Provencal home, classic in detail, with a beautiful center entrance and an all-brick facade. It had great curb appeal, a nice lot and really good bones. The challenges were in the floorplan. The house was tired and did not flow well. There were cavernous dark spaces and the layout was not functional for my lifestyle. I love to entertain so I wanted a more open and inviting floorplan.

Tell us a little bit about your design process.
I began by massaging the floorplan on paper. The kitchen was not conducive to entertaining. It was originally located in the SE corner of the home and in modifying the floorplan I moved it to the back center of the house so that it could open up into the backyard. I had a larger vision for the outdoor space.

Another big flaw to the original floor plan was the lack of a master suite. There was one shared bath for all three bedrooms. I made the decision to add a 400 square foot addition over the original den (now the dining room). By doing this, I could create a master suite that contained a nice size room and its own bath. Then, there would be one shared bath for the other two bedrooms. These modifications were lifestyle changes that allowed for updating and would certainly help future resale.

The French doors in the dining room open to the backyard – perfect for entertaining. I spend the majority of my time in the den. I
used a darker, more dramatic palette giving it
a warm, cozy and comfortable feel.

We know no two renovation projects are alike, but in general, what are the steps you follow in a home renovation project?
I usually start from the inside, working out. I start with the plumbing and electrical layout, identifying fixture height, valve placement and specifications. I take into consideration lifestyle and room layouts when looking at a lighting plan. I like to understand how a client lives in order to develop an overall strategy. Work spaces, such as a kitchen or bathroom, need a lot of task lighting. In general, I prefer more ambient lighting to create a mood for each space. My plans take into consideration future room configuration and use as well. A good plan will allow for change as a family’s needs change. People get bored with a furniture layout so you have to be prepared for any space plan scenario and have electrical in place.

Next I look at the overall architectural detailing of the home – cabinetry, built-ins, flooring and surfaces.
In my own home, I worked with a neutral palette, inserting a lot of textures. My den is a little more dramatic with an accent of bolder colors.

The living room was “inspired” by my collection of one-of-a-kind pieces, the antique Barrister bookcases, the cream-ware and my antique prints.

When working with a homeowner I try to listen intently to their needs. The design process is a continuous series of questions. Are there patterns you like or don’t like? Are there allergies? How do you like a space to function? How do you live within your space? For example, I might say, “Do you see the den being used as an office space, a music room or a home library? Do you entertain? On average, how many people do you like to seat comfortably in a room?”

Once we determine the functionality of the rooms, I work with my client to identify one “inspiration” fabric as a starting point for all of the other selections. When choosing furnishings, I love incorporating one-of-a-kind pieces into my client’s spaces, something that speaks to them, whether it is the unique shape, texture or scale.

Was it different, working on your own home versus designing a space for a client?
Yes it was! As a designer, we are exposed to so many options so when the decisions were my own to make, for my own home, I truly struggled with every one. I joked that I needed to hire a designer myself to help with narrowing my choices.

Now that your own renovation is complete, what is your “favorite” part of your new home?
Well, a home is never done. Design is a continual evolution over time as people’s needs and individual tastes continue to change. My hope is that my clients are as excited and thankful to go home as I am.

To view a bio and additional work samples from Jimmy Angell, click here.



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