A vintage holiday

Maureen FeighanDetroit News Design Writer
  • 1890 Victorian is one of five homes on Northville Holiday Home Tour
  • Eclectic decor is a mix of old and new
  • Each bedroom has its own personality
  • Tour proceeds help fund Northville Community Foundation's senior holiday baskets program

Tina Camero of Northville loves all things vintage — clothes, furniture, and fashion magazine covers. When she found her closets overflowing with beautiful vintage clothes years ago, she opened a consignment and antiques shop in downtown Plymouth.

But Camero, a mother of two who now runs estate sales with her sister, also loves vintage with a twist — furniture and art that look old but are actually new.

It's no wonder why she was drawn to her 3,450-square-foot house in downtown Northville eight years ago. Originally built in 1890, this lovely four-bedroom, four-bath Victorian is a juxtaposition of old and new. Yes, it's more than a century old with the original stone foundation still in place, but it was completely overhauled by the previous owners, who converted it from a duplex back into a single-family home.

Today, this 124-year-old house wears its age well. The airy first floor flows from room to room. The foyer flows into a completely updated kitchen with granite counters and bright, glass light fixtures (inspired by Starbucks, of all places). The floors are pecan.

"When I saw the floors ... I said, 'I have to have this house,' " Camero says.

Now, with the holidays approaching, the house is decked out for the season by Haven, a popular home decor store with locations in Northville and Plymouth. Camero's is one of five houses on Northville's Holiday Home Tour, which runs today and Saturday (see box for details).

Throughout the house, Haven owner Martha McMeekin and her team, Paula Eklof and Kathy Bouchard, used faux garland, picks, burlap and mercury glass ornaments and accents to create a seasonal look that will last long after the holidays. The color palette is muted but sophisticated with silver, gold, cream and pops of red.

"Keep it simple," advises McMeekin when it comes to decorating for the holidays. "A lot of people tend to overdo it. If you focus on nature and bring in natural-looking greens and add birch, frosted pine cones, it'll last longer."

The house was built in an area of Northville once called Cabbage Town because of all the cabbages grown in the area. In 1909, a neighbor, Emma Rayson, was visiting the owners when she was injured by a piece of ice. She later died. The street, Rayson, now bears her name.

By the time Camero and her two sons moved in, the house had been completely renovated. Still, Camero has worked hard putting her own touch on the space. She tore out the carpeting in the family room and installed hardwood, put down tile in the three-season room, and overhauled the master bathroom.

Camero describes her style as eclectic. While she was growing up in Frankenmuth, her mom used to drag her to garage sales, which she disliked as a kid, but Camero says she learned to appreciate and love it. Now she owns an estate sale business, Eclectic Attic Estate Sale Service.

"I come across very interesting pieces to decorate my home with," she says.

Indeed, each room is a mix of new, old, vintage and eclectic.

In the three-season room just off the kitchen that overlooks Camero's resort-like backyard with an inground pool, bead board lines the ceiling. A massive leather settee that looks old, but is actually new and from Atlanta, provides ample seating around the barn wood table by BoBo.

"This is my most used room," Camero says. "This is awesome. We do Christmas (here), Halloween."

To transform the space for the holidays, McMeekin and her team topped a large farmhouse cabinet with faux greenery, twine Christmas trees, and fluffy fake snowballs. Down the table, they added a burlap runner, which they covered with lanterns, two metal candelabras painted black, and some vintage corbels (a piece of wood that juts from an outside wall). Two old shutters next to the cabinet are adorned with twig wreaths and picks that Bouchard made.

The decor is less Christmas and more winter, McMeekin says. Tina "could leave it like that all winter," she says.

Up a few stairs off the kitchen is the spacious family room, which also has a mix of old and new pieces, along with a very real-looking fake Christmas tree from English Gardens. The large sectional is from Gardner-White Furniture, perfect for two teenage sons to lounge on. And a faux fireplace, the mantle decorated with two vintage cheerubs and faux greenery, gives the room a focal point.

Instead of a coffee table, Camero uses a tea table; it's more functional for her family.

"It's a little bit higher," she says. "My kids like to come and sit and watch TV and eat, so I wanted it a little higher."

Upstairs, each of the three bedrooms has its own distinct personality. There's the "pretty room" spare bedroom (designed with the help of designers Bayda Gold and Debbie Weathers), which has white walls, white linens and a vintage vanity table painted white.

In the master bedroom, which also has a romantic, vintage vibe, with a wrought-iron bed from Crate and Barrel and floral bed linens, Camero wanted to create a separate dressing area. So she had a fake wall constructed in the back portion of the bedroom and installed cabinets. On the glass cabinet doors, Camero gave a designer friend images of old-fashioned magazine ads, which were transposed onto cellophane and applied to the doors.

"They just put them on the glass," Camero says. "It's really cool. I keep clothes, shoes in here."

The most playful bedroom is Camero's 17-year-old son Brandon's room. It's bold, bright and playful with blue walls, plaid bedding from Pottery Barn, and a large painting from a classmate of a monkey playing with Legos.

The room has several permanent special guests. There's the barracuda Camero's son caught from the Bahamas and a large tuna from Mexico, both now mounted on the wall. In the middle is a nearly life-size Gollum, the ring-obsessed creature with the creepy voice from "The Lord of the Rings."

Camero had a special drawbridge-like ledge built and installed on the wall just for Gollum.

And with the house now for sale — Tina's youngest graduates from high school next spring and she hasn't decided where she'll move next — Tina says friends and family are already calling dibs on her funky pieces. She, meanwhile, is ready for something new — or maybe old. It's her style, after all.

"I'm excited," Camero says. "I like change."

(313) 223-4686

Northville Holiday Home Tour

Presented by the Northville Community Foundation, the 17th annual Holiday Home Tour will feature five homes in a range of styles. The tour runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Saturday. Tickets are $25 the day of the tour and can be purchased at Ward Church in Northville, 40000 Six Mile Road. Proceeds from the tour help fund the foundation's Senior Holiday Baskets program.