February 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Smart Solutions

Designers experiment at their homes first

The foyer in Paul Feiten's home has a table with numbered plates that make up his street address. (Gene Meadows)

Interior designers work hard to make your environment look and feel like a reflection of you. Luckily, their own homes often act as testing grounds for great ideas.

Paul Feiten, owner of Paul Feiten Design in Bloomfield Hills, lives in a luxurious residence that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The fun introduction begins in the foyer where three numbered plates make up his street address.

His playful approach gets the conversation going.

A faux fur throw draped over the sofa in his family room hides a second throw underneath. “It kind of beefs up the one on top, adding a lining in a way for a fuller look,” he says.

His artwork is layered to great effect, once again creating a less formal arrangement in the more traditional interiors. “On my mantlescape I layer artwork, so I can change it whenever I want,” says Feiten who mixes traditional and contemporary paintings as well as watercolors with oils.

He likes to overlap them slightly for a more casual feel. “Because they’re not hanging, I feel like I have the flexibility to move things around. It’s an invitation to change,” Feiten says.

In the kitchen, he strategically places accessories in front of unsightly outlets for an uninterrupted backsplash.

Michael Coyne, who owns Michael Coyne Design at the Michigan Design Center in Troy, treats his kitchen as an extension of the house. “I have a lot of framed photos showing and less appliances,” he says. “There’s more decoration, like the buffet with two lamps and a glass sculpture.”

He likes the appearance of large-scale pieces, such as a substantial outdoor urn that holds an arrangement of dried hydrangeas. “It’s way too big, but I love it,” he says.

A custom farm table performs double-duty as a workspace and a place to dine.

Because most modern homes have open floor plans, Coyne adds curtains between the rooms. “I do back-to-back pleated sheers to accentuate the arches,” he says. “Don’t use expensive fabric. It’s not necessary.”

He prefers minimalist hardware for window treatments. “I like it because it’s more about the drapery and less about the hardware,” he says.

Barbi Krass, director of design for Colorworks Studio in Birmingham, displays an array of black-and-white family photos from different generations above her bed. Double-profile frames with vintage details make them even more unique. In her master bathroom, she turned an alcove into a perfume bar with a counter that holds a tray of perfumes and lotions. A glass cabinet stores towels.

Krass has been installing kitchen-warming drawers in her clients’ bathrooms for years, where they keep towels and lotions toasty after a bath or shower. “It’s such a great luxury for not a lot of money, especially in this winter,” she says.

Now there may be a warming drawer in her home’s future. Because designers’ heads are filled with possibilities, their own homes are never quite done.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.