Commerce Twp. couple downsizes from traditional to transitional

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

It was going to take a lot for Jackie Schwartz and her husband, Mike, to leave their traditional-style house in Novi. Still, the couple found all they were looking for and more in a new-construction home in Commerce Township.

In search of certain features, like a first-floor master suite, Jackie, owner of Home Interior Warehouse in Walled Lake and Plymouth, says they also wanted to downsize and she wanted more transitional rooms to reflect her changing taste.

“We were ready for a change, but moving is really hard,” she says. “Everything fell into place when we found the right house.”

Mike was also reluctant at first. “He wasn’t ready to make the move, but he fell in love with the house immediately. It’s such an easy, comfortable home to live in and it’s more suitable to our lifestyle now,” she says.

Perfect fit

Their 3,100-square-foot home with an open floor plan offers plenty of space for entertaining and overnight stays, plus a bonus 1,200 square feet in the finished basement.

Most of the art and all of the furniture and light fixtures in the two-story home came from her store, like the console table in the foyer that looks like a steamer trunk.

Warm gray walls and wide-plank engineered hardwood floors keep a cohesive feel on the main level, while lighting plays a major role in every room. “Lighting is so important today. It’s more architectural because of the understated furniture,” says Jackie, who chose a dramatic fixture for the foyer.

In the dining room, a striking chandelier becomes a work of art. “It’s the first piece I bought for the house; before there was even a hole in the ground,” she says. “I fell in love with it. It looks like it’s raining crystals. It’s very organic, yet still dressy.”

A pair of china cabinets flanks an oversized mirror that reflects the unique fixture for added drama.

Though the palette is subtle, touches of gold add another layer to the quiet interiors. “I love gold and gray,” says Jackie. “When you don’t mix with gray, your rooms can start to look dated. This way it becomes more of a classic neutral if you don’t overdo it.”

Another classic is her husband’s home office with handsome built-ins designed by Jackie and fabricated by Options Furniture in Commerce Township. “I wanted it to look sleek and clean, but still warm,” she says. “It’s an important room in the front of the house.”

A bold geometric rug strikes a lighter note. “With all the dark furniture, it’s the pop of bright that the room needed,” she adds.

Her favorite furniture, a pair of tall wingback chairs covered in zebra print, can be found in the great room. “I wanted something dramatic. Because everything in here is neutral, I wanted one element to pop,” says Jackie, who chose a woman’s portrait for the fireplace mantel. “She just spoke to me.”

Identical sofas surround a faux-leather ottoman that serves as a coffee table, while a transitional-style media cabinet accompanies the TV.

In the adjacent breakfast room, a live-edge dining table joins wine-themed gallery art from their former home that was reframed. An oval iron-and-crystal light fixture hangs from above. “It adds a lot of sparkle when it’s turned on,” Jackie says.

The well-equipped kitchen features fun accents like a ceramic monkey dish that holds candy. “I wanted something a little whimsical,” she says. “We call her the greeter.”

A glass subway tile backsplash offers a modern take on the standard style. The white shaker-style cabinets are classic, says Jackie, who chose a gray finish for the sizable island.

Faux leather barstools are comfortable, durable and easy to wipe clean. “Mike and I eat at the island if it’s just the two of us,” she says of the 10-foot long feature she considers to be one of the highlights of the house.

The open floor plan is ideal for entertaining. “This space can hold a lot of people,” she says.

Their other home was around 1,800 square feet larger. “We gave up rooms we didn’t use that weren’t part of our lifestyle anymore,” says Jackie. “Now we have a finished lower level that really provides us with that space.”

It includes a spacious entertaining area and a guest suite.

On the second floor, there are two additional guest rooms and a loft area with a comfy chair for visitors to read or check email.

The first-floor master bedroom boasts a tray ceiling above and cushy carpet below. An upholstered bed contributes to the peaceful retreat. Jackie wanted the master bathroom to be timeless with details like the porcelain marble floor with black accent tiles.

Once again, the subtle touches set the tone. “Everything is pretty quiet. The light fixture is the wow factor,” she says about the crystal orb chandelier.

Another wow factor is the property beyond. “We love our location backed by wetlands,” Jackie says. “This home just checked off everything we needed. We’re really glad we made the move.”

Favorite features

Their builder, Seth Herkowitz, partner, Hunter Pasteur Homes in Farmington Hills, a builder/developer of single and multifamily communities throughout southeast Michigan, shares some area trends.

“The first-floor master is definitely a trend for empty nesters looking to downsize,” he says. “A lot of people have extended families that come to visit, so a finished lower level or a finished bedroom space on the second floor is popular.”

Personalization is a priority. “We put a big emphasis on the design of the home to try to avoid a cookie-cutter feel,” says Herkowitz. “We make room for structural changes and a unique floor plan that suits their style of living.”

An open floor plan and multifunctional islands are in demand. “The great room is ideal for entertaining and people tend to gather in the kitchen and around the island,” he says.

Multipurpose spaces make sense. “The loft area can be used in a lot of different ways, so we can tailor it to their needs for a place for kids to do homework or a workspace or an open den,” he says.

Spacious master bathrooms are a common request. “People tend to spend their money on the kitchen and the master suite,” he says.

Engineered woods are popular for flooring and two-tone kitchens are hot right now.

Most of all, the house must reflect the inhabitants. “Functionality has been a driving force behind home design,” says Herkowitz. “It’s about how people actually live in the home.”

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at