Couple's West Bloomfield condo their latest adventure

Judith Harris Solomon
Special to The Detroit News

 It’s been almost 10 years since Homestyle featured Linda and Chuck Soberman’s  19th-century white shingle  farmhouse on Franklin Road in Bloomfield Hills, and it turns out that four years ago the couple decided it was time to downsize.

“Every home we live in is an adventure,” Linda says.  “We left the big two-story house to move to a one-story condo in West Bloomfield that was hiding in the back of a subdivision where 14 detached units were built on a small island that overlooks Simpson Lake.” Adds Chuck: “Our last home was on Long Lake. And while it was difficult to give that up, living on an island surrounded by wetlands makes us feel like we are living in the country.”

“We liked this condo because it was spacious, open and it longed for an artistic touch,” says Linda, a multi-talented  artist and jewelry maker.   “And it was all about recycling and repurposing instead of throwing things out. People would say, ‘I never noticed that piece before even though it was in the other house’,” she notes.

While Linda has kept some of the furniture and artwork from her former home,  she says the purchase  of  two 60-year old Milo Baugham sectional sofas and two matching ottomans, now in the living room,  “inspired my spontaneous decision to also utilize a lot mid-century. The Baugham pieces were in perfect condition and I love that their lacquered black wood bases make them feel like they are floating.”

Adds Linda:  “My living room in the  old house had two Martha Stewart sofas upholstered with white textured fabrics and two armchairs upholstered in colorful traditional prints, whereas in this house I have a neutral earth-toned palette, which acts as the perfect background for all of the art here.” 

In the condo’s dining room, a stunning 5-by-10-foot table brought from the former residenc features a  wonderful pewter gray tin top complete with nail-head trim. Custom-made for the Sobermans in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, where  they have a winter home, the unique table is surrounded by rust-colored leather upholstered chairs.   And the couple chose to replace the traditional brass and glass chandelier that  formerly hung  over the table with a new one from Restoration Hardware. “I love that it’s simple  and industrial and has exposed bulbs. We needed something long because the table is so long  and it worked out perfectly,”  she says. ”It makes a statement.” 

A long table sits in the dining room with a black & white photo wall in the background.

Also in the dining room a wonderful collection of black and white photographs by such renowned American photographers as Edward Weston (mid-century) and Alfred Stieglitz (early 20th Century)  graces the back  wall along with two treasured family photos. One is of Linda’s grandparents on their wedding day in 1919; the other is of her mother on the day she graduated from Detroit’s Central High School in 1938. Using a lithographic process, Linda was able to transfer the original photographic images onto fabric, then hand-embroider and frame them for posterity.

Just north of the dining area, a charming glass and metal conservatory overlooks the lake. “The home’s former owners had previously purchased one from England,” Linda says. “After it collapsed, they built a new one that was designed to mimic the original structure and were able to re-use the original struts as well as the original chandelier which dates to the late 1800s. 

 “The conservatory has an indoor/outdoor feel and we love it,” Linda says.  “In fact we eat most of our meals out there while sitting at our mid-century round glass table which  is surrounded by Phillipe Starck’s  iconic plexiglass Louis Ghost chairs.”  Adds Chuck:  “ And it’s also wonderful to have my morning coffee and to read the newspapers in this sun-filled room.”

When the Sobermans purchased the condo, a wall separated the kitchen from the adjoining dining area.  “Removing that wall enabled us to have a great long view all the way from the kitchen to the conservatory and beyond,” Linda says.  “And it also enables me to participate with my guests when I am cooking.”  The kitchen’s “non-functional” wooden island was replaced with a new one (complete with stainless steel top and black wooden drawers ) that the couple found on the internet and purchased from a company in California.  “I gave them the specs I wanted, it arrived in perfect condition three weeks later and I love it,” Linda says. 

In the den, the couple inherited a colorful wall unit from the previous homeowners. Designed to hold both books and a TV,  it came from an old castle in England and is  painted with the names and the coats of arms of the castle’s owners.   “Everyone said, ‘You’re not really going to keep it, are you?’ but we did and I find it very funny,” Linda Soberman says.