Tom Lias has a wish for everyone who visits this year’s Ultimate Homearama: The president and chief operating officer at Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design wants you to walk away with “memory points.”
Memory points? For Lias, who lives and breathes polished, sophisticated furniture, “design” is the implied word missing from that phrase.
And for those who visit this year’s event — a spectacle of six brand new multimillion-dollar luxury homes in the Pinnacle development off Silverbell Road in Oakland Township, three of which were decorated and staged by Lias and his Gorman’s design team — memory points abound. It’s like the Disneyland of luxury homes.
One home has a rotating shoe closet in the master bedroom and a combined wine cellar and study with his and her offices. Another features a three-story water wall (something I’ve only seen in a hotel before) and a golf simulator in the basement. A third has a dinette built right into the kitchen island and a craft room any Pinterest-loving parent would want (me included).
“They need to be bold, they need to be a little out of the box,” says Lias, who says he learned a lot about memory points from builders Frank and Dominic Moceri and architect Dominick Tringali.
Meanwhile, design aesthetics — from traditional with a contemporary spin to a more transitional style — blend and mesh.
Lias and his team worked with Tringali and the Moceris of Moceri Custom Homes for nearly a year, sketching out a design plan for three homes on this year’s Homearama tour, which returns today to Metro Detroit for the first time since 2003.
The process was an evolution, they agree. And while these aren’t your average homes — prices range from $1.85 to $3.5 million — Lias and Tringali say from a design perspective, anyone can get ideas and be inspired.
A home may be out of someone’s budget, but “you can afford that room or to do that bar,” Tringali says.
“You get very few chances to see something as inspirational as this,” says Lias. “Like a car show — that’s there to enhance the entire auto industry. Here’s a chance for home building and the entire industry to really show off.”
Michael Stoskopf, chief operating officer of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, the primary sponsor (Homestyle also is a sponsor), describes Homearama as an entertainment venue.
“It’s a theme park for dream homes,” he says. “At $15 (for a ticket), it’s like going to the movies except you’re walking through the movies.”
I previewed three of the homes on this year’s tour — the 8,800-square-foot Greystone Manor, the 8,800-square-foot Villa Cortile and the 6,690-square-foot Pinecrest — and all three offer a smorgasbord for the design senses.
And while the first inclination with a luxury home in an event such as Homearama would be to “go for the fences” as a designer, Lias says, restraint was key.
“We wanted to create very sophisticated but livable interiors,” he says.
At the Greystone Manor, Lias and a team of 12 designers chose a color palette of gray, white and tan with accents in Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year. The grand foyer — which opens to a gallery and a dining hall — makes a statement from the entry with a sable gray Hickory White chest with a Greek key pattern, flanked by two Fairfield chairs with silver nailhead trim.
The trim “styles it up,” Lias says. “... This is not your mother’s traditional.”
An interesting aspect to the Greystone house is that it doesn’t feature a formal living room. Instead, the massive open concept kitchen flows into a spacious eat-in area, flanked by a coffee bar and small office. Just beyond it is the family room.
Upholstered armchairs in the family room in a floral and chevron tie in Radiant Orchid. “Nothing matches, but there’s a similarity of scale and lines and lightness,” Lias says.
One of my favorite spaces was the combined study and wine room with built-in shelves and a hideaway wine cellar. To the sides of the wood-paneled room were an office decorated with more masculine overtones and another with feminine decor. Grasscloth wallpaper in both adds texture and interest.
“You want interest. Otherwise, it’s a flat room,” says Lias.
Next door, at Villa Cortile, which features a more collected decor for a busy couple on the go, a jaw-dropping two-story granite fireplace in the great room makes a bold statement from the moment you step inside.
Tringali, the architect, says the counters throughout the house are man-made, either in quartz or a solid surface material. The master bathroom suite has a waterfall Kohler tub and lighted Corian counters.
“This is a new look we’re going for,” he says. “It’s contemporary but very warm.”
Water is another key design element. A dramatic three-story water wall is just off the main stairway. On the lowest level, a golf-themed room offers another living space — complete with a bar area, seating for at least 30, and a golf simulator — that overlooks an infinity pool and jacuzzi.
“This is truly an entertainer’s house,” Lias says.
The ranch Pinecrest may be the most livable of the three Moceri homes on this year’s tour. It opens immediately to an open concept living room, kitchen and dining area. A banquette is built right into the kitchen island.
Decorated with taupes and chocolate brown, apple green also shows up an accents throughout the house.
The cream leather headboard by A.R.T. in the master bedroom suite has a brass nailhead trim. The room, from the bedding to the art, has an uncluttered, open, airy feel. “We wanted it to be clean, neat, almost spa-like,” Lias says.
Lias, who does all of Gorman’s ads, says he has a mantra: When in doubt, use white space. The same applies to interior design.
“Don’t clutter it up,” he says. “It is better to have fewer, better, important pieces than to have more.”
Ultimate Homearama 2014
Homearama opens at 11 a.m. Friday at the Pinnacle on Silverbell Road. It runs 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday (including Labor Day) and noon-9 p.m. Sunday; parking is available at Oakland Christian Church. Tickets are $15 per person, $40 per family. It runs through Sept. 14. Go to www.ultimatehomearama.com.
Traditional with a twist design tips
Less is more, says Tom Lias, president and chief operating officer of Gorman’s Fine Furnishings & Interior Design. Below are some other tips.
■When decorating a space, think of the overall look you want to create. Don’t get bogged down with one piece or single design detail.
■Open space is OK.
■Layering isn’t always best. “With a contemporary or cleaner traditional, you don’t want layers,” Lias says. “You want enough stuff to have character, but not enough to overdo the room.”
■Edit, edit, edit. Too much stuff is too much stuff.