Design inspiration, big and small
Thirteen thousand square feet and a lot of bold colors separate designer Marianne Jones’ home in Birmingham from another designed by Corey Damen Jenkins in Bloomfield Hills, but visitors to the Michigan Design Center’s Sept. 16 home tour can learn plenty of design tips from both.
Take color. Jenkins isn’t afraid of color, using lush jewel tones in a sprawling 15,000-square-foot Colonial Revival he designed last year for a client. He doesn’t shy away from patterns either. A downstairs powder room in the same house features a distinctive blue and white wallpaper. But it’s about making things blend, says Jenkins.
“My philosophy is always timeless, classic design,” says Jenkins. “You shouldn’t know what year I did it whether it’s 2016 or 1986. It should have lines that are classic ... but we throw in some pops of color to make it a bit more vibrant.”
Jones, meanwhile, takes a different approach to color. She stuck to essentially three colors, mostly grays and taupes, when she completely redid the 1,550-square-foot Birmingham bungalow she shares with her husband, Tim Griswold. Jones says using a similar color palette feels less jarring and creates a sense of flow.
It’s about creating a sense of “cohesiveness with the color palette,” says Jones.
Two completely different homes, two different approaches. But both offer inspiration and ideas for any home. And both are featured on the design center’s Sept. 16 tour, called “Total Transformations.” All told, five homes — three owned by designers themselves such as Jones — are on this year’s tour, the center’s second annual (see box for details).
Jones believes one of the biggest differences between her home and the one Jenkins designed is they reflect different stages of life — a home for empty-nesters (her home) and a sprawling home for a young family. She wanted space for her three grown children or her husband’s two kids when they are in town and home that didn’t require a lot of maintenance.
“We wanted a place that would allow us to have something that was ours — something that’s nice, fresh and updated but (that) you can close up and leave on a vacation,” says Jones.
Let the architecture sing
Closing up and leaving a 15,000-square-foot home built in 1939 might not be quite as easy.
Still, the Bloomfield Hills house — which was featured in Traditional Home magazine last year — reflects Jenkins’ design aesthetic in many ways, which is all about taking something traditional but adding a modern, often sexy twist.
To do that, Jenkins carefully played up the home’s beautiful architecture, juxtaposing lovely architectural details with clean-lined furniture. He kept window treatments minimal to avoid competing with those details.
“It’s 21st century traditional,” says Jenkins. “My approach was let the architecture sing. If you have great architecture, let it sing. Let it hold its weight.”
Color, of course, helps keep things more vibrant and current. The foyer, for example, was originally painted white during renovations. But it didn’t work. Now, it’s a lush, jewel-toned green.
“It was really kind of dull,” said Jenkins, referring to the white. “All the moldings fell apart against it. Nothing really differentiated itself. I’m all about contrast.”
To create something of visual interest along the staircase from the foyer to the second level, Jenkins created a gallery wall of vintage and antique mirrors, something anyone could do at home.
“It can be very inexpensively done,” says Jenkins. “There’s a real medley of mirrors here. It pops and brightens up the space.”
In fact, art and gallery walls play a key role in the spacious house. And not all of the art is high end. Some pieces are from Home Goods.
And don’t forget the ceiling, says Jenkins. People spend so much time on the four walls and floor they forget the sixth wall — the ceiling. In the dining room, Southfield-based Walls of Virtue did an elaborate ceiling application. “That is a wall and a lot of times it goes untouched or ignored,” says Jenkins.
Classic colors, personal accents
Jones, meanwhile, took what was once a traditional 1950s bungalow and reinvented it into an open concept home. Working with architect Glenda Meads and contractor Templeton Building they tore down walls, repositioned hallways and added windows to open up the space.
“It felt really closed in” before, says Jones.
A back bedroom was opened up and converted into a home office. A doorwall in the office now leads to the backyard and allows light to flood in.
Jones says it was really about creating a home for the way she and her husband live now. Her husband loves to cook, so the kitchen was completely redone and expanded — a wall was torn down between the kitchen and dining area. White Brookhaven cabinets by Wood-Mode contrast beautifully with black marble counters.
The same marble makes an appearance on the fireplace hearth. But it’s honed so it has more of a matte look.
Upstairs, what was once one long bedroom is now two guest bedrooms, a second full bathroom and some key storage space. Maximizing storage was important since closet space is at such a premium in most bungalows.
Fun accents and art personalize the space. A large custom-made painting by a sign painter in Traverse City spells out some key places in Jones’ life and the couple’s relationship, including Nantucket and San Francisco.
Two ways to show off details in a smaller space or make it feel bigger? Lighting — whether it’s special sconces or can lights — and even tile. In Jones’ kitchen, calacatta statuario marble tiles run all the way up to the ceiling between the sink.
“By taking the tile all the way up, it makes it feel taller,” says Jones.
So whether you live in 15,000 square feet or 1,500 square feet, you can find design inspiration anywhere. It’s about taking those ideas and making them your own.
‘Total Transformations’ Tour
■ 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16.
■ Tickets are $35 each or $60 for a pair.
■ Sponsored by the Michigan Design Center, proceeds benefit the Junior League of Birmingham.
■ Tickets must be purchased online by Tuesday, Sept. 5. If tickets remain after Tuesday, they can be purchased at the Michigan Design Center, Suite 25.
■ Call (248) 649-4772 for information.