Birmingham couple’s new home blends art, accents
Todd and Jennifer Kroll of Birmingham have a name for their unique, hip style: industrial farm.
And there’s a reason for that. Their house isn’t furnished with aged antiques in an all-neutral palette. Instead, they have original art of barns and farmhouses throughout their 3,600-square-foot home, blended beautifully with more modern pieces and some industrial furniture and unique accents.
But little nods to life on the farm are sprinkled throughout, down to a vintage cement rooster on the fireplace hearth.
“We just seem to be drawn to barn-type things,” laughs Jennifer. “And we love certain types of industrial decor.”
The couple was actually just days away from meeting with an architect to draw up plans to completely renovate their previous home in Birmingham, where they lived for 17 years with their two daughters, when Todd drove by the development where they live now. He saw a picture of what was planned and asked the builder to tour a model.
“We walked through, loved the house” and decided to build new, says Todd who co-owns a construction company in Garden City. The house was built in 2015 and they moved in in 2016.
“We knew the second we walked out we were going to do it,” says Jennifer, an artist.
Starting with a new house — which was featured last fall on the Birmingham House Tour — has given them the chance to do and create many of the things they always wanted but couldn’t in their old house for space reasons: collect and display art, install a barn door and create an outdoor living space.
“Our other house was 1950s. We wanted large walls because we really wanted to start collecting more art,” said Jennifer.
And with the right amount of space now to display it, art figures prominently throughout the house. A large mixed media piece of a white barn by Colorado artist Jennifer O’Meara, whom they discovered at ArtPrize in 2016, hangs in the family room. The painting is actually a version of the piece O’Meara displayed at ArtPrize.
“It’s a photograph and she paints wax and paint over it,” said Jennifer. “The one we saw (at ArtPrize) was a lot bigger than this. All we knew is we had this really big wall and we were looking to find the right piece. What she does is she does seven original paintings of each piece. She agreed to do one of the seven the size that we wanted.”
Rooms with a purpose
One of the Krolls’ favorite rooms in their new house is their 500-square-foot outdoor room. It has a plenty of room for lounging, a fireplace and a Pottery Barn dining set is perfect for meals al fresco. The room features the same brick as the rest of the home’s exterior.
“I love being outside,” says Todd. “We can be out there if it’s raining, we can eat out there. We’re protected from the sun. And I love having the fire out there.”
Wood beams give the space a rustic feel and tie in with faux beams also in place in the kitchen. When the weather cooperates, Todd, Jennifer and their two teenage daughters are out there as much as they can be.
“All of the furniture is outdoor furniture but we didn’t necessarily want it to look like outdoor furniture,” said Jennifer. “And the chandelier doesn’t make it look too outdoor-ish.”
The outdoor room is one of several rooms that serves a specific purpose. In the basement, movie nights are perfect in the family’s theater. A bold geometric wallpaper — which Jennifer installed herself — makes a statement across one wall.
Todd also has his own meditation room and Jennifer has a studio for her artwork.
It was two chairs in the family room that the set the tone for the entire home’s decor.
Visiting Scott Shuptrine Interiors to look at a bench roughly three years ago, Jennifer spotted two chairs in a catalog. Made in a deconstructed style with leather and upholstery, they fit the couple’s industrial farm aesthetic.
But the company that makes them wouldn’t send a sample. Todd and Jennifer took a leap of faith and ordered them anyhow — even they weren’t sure of the chairs’ exact color.
“Everything was built around that they may be gray or green,” said Jennifer. “We were hoping and praying it work out and they did.”
The entire house is an example of style elements the family has always wanted: the black doors, the wood beams in the outdoor room, even a Dutch door for the pantry. In between, they’ve sprinkled fun accents such as an old clock from a schoolhouse anchored to a wall and a 1938 Detroit streetcar map.
Creating just the right look to suit their style can take time, admits Jennifer, but when she finds what’s looking for, she knows.
“I’ll go hours and hours, days and days, looking for one thing, and I’ll say to him ‘This is the thing’ because I’ll look at everything else and compare it to that,” said Jennifer.