Temporarily decorate outdoor spaces with your interior pillows/rugs. Design: CLOTH & KIND | Photo by Sarah Dario
Temporarily decorate outdoor spaces with your interior pillows/rugs. Design: CLOTH & KIND | Photo by Sarah Dario

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It’s a Picnic

Whether you’re enjoying a late summer evening on the patio or having a pool party on a hot July day, our outdoor spaces are ideal when hosting family and friends during the warm summer months. We asked some of the area’s top designers to share their top priorities when creating outdoor spaces their clients will love for many summers to come.

Temporarily decorate your outdoor spaces when hosting friends and family by bringing indoor pillows out, using table runners, and even taking your indoor area rugs out to soften hardscapes (a bonus feature – these products are aired out a bit after a long winter inside). Trust us, you needn't fear bringing your textiles outside. They will add infinite amounts of comfort, color, and texture, and create an ambiance as welcoming as your family room so people will want to linger well into the wee hours! Add vases with fresh-cut floral from your garden. There isn't any formula. Just clip what looks lovely to you and group them in a simple vase or even a fun glass. Lastly, lighting is key. There is an abundance of gorgeous and fun outdoor lighting on the market now, from hurricanes to strands of exposed bulbs. Get your ladder out and have some fun stringing them up in the trees and thinking about surrounding your primary outdoor space in a halo of golden light. 
– Krista Nye Nicholas and Tami Ramsay, CLOTH & KIND

When designing an outdoor space primed for hosting guests, try to incorporate multiple areas designated to please all types of personalities. Whether a shade lover or a sun worshipper, a great outdoor entertaining space should be able to accommodate everyone to ensure that the party lasts for hours. 
Rita O’Brien, Rita O'Brien Design Group

When having friends and family over for an outdoor dinner, the use of only one 'family-style' table helps create an intimate feeling for guests. Using a variety of linens and dinnerware adds to the feeling of casualness while providing more opportunity for texture and color. Casual, fresh-cut garden flowers make great arrangements, but be sure to thoroughly wash the plants to prevent unwanted insects on the table. When hosting a large group for an outdoor meal, remember to enlist some additional help for transporting plates, food, etc. back and forth from the kitchen.
 Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

The outdoor space above is just steps away from the kitchen, which makes for quick and easy replenishing of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Pillows and a graphic statement rug take ordinary patio furniture to a new level. Most outdoor furniture comes with a plain, neutral fabric and can be dull if not accompanied by the right furnishings or accessories. Custom ordering more colorful fabrics is always an option, but you can also make a big impact by employing a playful indoor/outdoor rug, a grouping of vibrant pillows and art to create a lively and inviting outdoor space. Terry Ellis, Room Service Interior Design

Smart home features are a fantastic way to enhance interior spaces, but when installed outdoors, they can take our entertainment possibilities through the roof. The 9-foot screen television structure can be seen from the patio, outdoor kitchen area, and even inside of the home through exterior windows due to an advanced audio system that consists of multiple speakers in sync throughout the interior and exterior spaces. The pavilion itself is fitted with a retractable glass overhead door to seal the area from the weather as well. Barbi Krass, Colorworks Studio

Adding water and fire elements into your outdoor spaces works with nature and creates a warm and restful space. Ponds and waterfalls with rock and accent lighting create a relaxed environment for you and your guests. The soothing sounds of the water is great, and fire elements consisting of fire pots in interesting sculptural shapes create additional lighting, as well as an insect repellent. Fire tables bring conversation areas together, all while adding warmth on a chilly night.
 Margaret Skinner, Allied ASID Margeaux Interiors

The ever-changing environment here in Michigan should always be top of mind when choosing outdoor furnishings and appliances. A mildew-resistant rug will not only add to your décor, but also does a great job anchoring your furniture so guests won’t be sliding around. Oversized umbrellas offer protection from the sun and rain, and propane heaters are a great option to extend the season. Donna Brown, Dazzling Designs

My favorite touches are fresh-cut flowers accented with candle light to increase the ambiance. Additionally, our other member of the family always needs to feel included and usually gets the best seat in the backyard when we’re entertaining. If your family pet is well-behaved, our four-legged companions can keep guests entertained in many different ways.
 Cheryl Nestro, Tutto Interiors

Built-in bar is perfect for entertaining guests in this dining room. Design: Linda Shears | Photo by Beth Singer
Built-in bar is perfect for entertaining guests in this dining room. Design: Linda Shears | Photo by Beth Singer

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vacation Homes

While permanent residences in Michigan are concentrated mainly in the state’s southern metropolitan areas, Michiganders’ vacation homes are located primarily in more rural areas in the northern part of the state with amenities close by. And as Michiganders near their retirement, a goal for many is to own a winter home located in a warmer climate such as Florida or Arizona. A few of metro Detroit’s top designers shared their clients’ relaxing vacation homes.

"For many years, my clients enjoyed their unassuming 800-square-foot cottage nestled in the woods overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. Enamored with the Charlevoix area of Michigan since their youth, they decided that they would eventually someday retire here, but not into an 800-square-foot abode. Honoring the scale of the surrounding forest and the grandeur of the Lake Michigan, they recently replaced the tiny cottage with a custom, sprawling 3500-square-foot Prairie-style home. Halquist limestone walls flow seamlessly from the exterior to the interior. The gold and bittersweet color palette was influenced by the undulating metal wall hanging over the dining room buffet, one of the few items transferred to this residence from their home in Oakland County. This palette also echoes the famous sunsets of Lake Michigan, which are enjoyed through the floor-to-ceiling walls of glass windows facing west.
" – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

"This new construction condo located in Naples, Florida, is a winter retreat in a golf community. The homeowners are busy executives and are only able to visit a couple times a year, but they wanted a retreat that had a different aesthetic from most of the Florida residences. They desired a sophisticated and contemporary, yet warm environment, so we used dark porcelain floors as opposed to the traditional lighter floors in the South. It was important that the furniture pieces were comfortable yet interesting. The four woven leather and wood chairs created a separate but inviting place for them to visit with their guests, and the two chandeliers are all made of shell, which gives a nod to the Florida location." – Ann-Marie Anton, It’s Personal Design

"This vacation home sits on the shore of a quiet bay just beyond the reach of northern Lake Michigan. Purchased for its generous lot size and location, the original house that stood on the property was slated to be demolished. The homeowners wanted an open floor plan for the contemporary house, while maintaining the refined scale and intimate room sizes one would find in one of the century-old cottages nearby. Classic materials were chosen for the interior backgrounds. Walls and ceilings were covered in tongue-and-groove paneling while floors were laid with thick, hand-hewn boards. All interior millwork was to be painted white, while outside, materials such as cedar shingles, natural stucco, and chunky field stones were selected for their classic cottage appeal. With the neutral backgrounds in place, the interior could now be brought to life. Painted furniture, vibrant fabrics, and cheerful animal motifs were used throughout the house, playing to the homeowner’s primary request for bright bursts of color and whimsical creatures at every turn.
" – Kevin Serba, Serba Interiors

Left: vintage bowling pins hanging upside down. Right: Mounted 3-D art. Design: Dan Davis | Photos: K.C. Vansen
Left: vintage bowling pins hanging upside down. Right: Mounted 3-D art. Design: Dan Davis | Photos: K.C. Vansen

Monday, May 1, 2017

Art Lesson

A well-placed piece of art or the perfectly incorporated artwork collection can do wonders in completing any space. Whether it unifies a room via an appropriate color palette, or simply provides a stunning focal point, artwork has solidified its role as an essential design element. Some of the area’s top designers shared their tried-and-true methods on how they successfully incorporate artwork into their projects.


“Layering in 3-D elements can add a lot of depth and texture to a space, as well as an element of surprise. Whether the piece itself has dimension or the frame does, or even if it is combined with dimensional pieces in the same grouping, art presents itself in a unique manner when all 3 dimensions are engaged. We use plates, architectural elements, collectibles, and dimensional frames to get this effect.” – Dan Davis, Dan Davis Designs


“Many of my clients are serious collectors and the photo above from a project in Miami Beach is a great example. In fact, the art was purchased before the room was even laid out! The client, a passionate collector, inspired us to design the architecture around the art, which is no small feat in a high-rise. Working with architect Joseph Mosey, we created this dining space with specific lighting and furniture that coordinated with the four art pieces – including the wall-sized painting.” 
– Lucy Earl, Jones-Keena & Co.


“The above images display two different ways I used the artwork in two of my clients’ homes. One of the images shows a very structured and symmetrical collection. The use of large white matting is a powerful way to make smaller items seem more important. The art is visually contained within this set-back wall. A single framed piece in this area would have been far less interesting! The other image features a more collected look. I had a tall wainscot built to act as a ledge for displaying ever-changing photos and art.” – Terry Ellis, Room Service Interior Design


“Most art requires artificial light to maximize the color, texture, contrast, and nuance of the work. Specialty art lights installed in the ceiling are commonly used in galleries and museums. Because of the precision and quality of this type of lighting, it is frequently the choice of architects, designers, and lighting designers to present art as the focal point in a room. Regardless of the method that is chosen, the importance of proper lighting on fine art cannot be underestimated and should be as important to a space as the furnishings.” 
– Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

“Most galleries hang their art at average eye level, about 57” - 58” inches up from the floor to the center of the artwork. This is a good rule-of-thumb for eye-level standing up areas where the observer is passing through. Use this standard when hanging art in a hallway or foyer. Adjust gallery height for the people in the house. Think about hanging art a bit lower in kids' rooms. If a room is going to be used mostly for sitting, hang the art lower to keep it at eye-level sitting down. Do not leave a large gap between the sofa and the artwork. A huge gap negates the engagement between the artwork and the sofa. I inwardly cringe when I see art hung too high and floating miles above the sofa. A rule of thumb is 6" - 8" off the floor, above the sofa. What if you have a larger sofa and a higher ceiling but do not have a substantial work of art to fill the wall space proportionately? Groupings are a wonderful answer. They provide interest and can read as a single unit.” 
– Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs