Around the House



PLEASING PLANTS Plant expert Sarah Williams added oxalis triangularis, “false shamrock,” to this client’s home. Inside this section, find more on today’s best house plants. Photo by Jacob Lewkow.

Creating Character

Pieces from the past add intrigue to interiors

WHAT’S OLD IS new again when it comes to antiques, which are easier to find than ever before and even appeal to millennials, who like cleaner lines. From ornate styles to more streamlined designs, the diverse selection is part of the allure.

We recently talked about antiques with two Birmingham-based interior designers: Kevin Serba, owner of Serba Interiors, and Nicole Withers, vice president of Jones-Keena & Co., both known for their effortless blend of relics alongside newer finds.

Q: Are scratches really OK?
Says Serba: “Yes! I’d rather see wax rubbed into a scratch than have it refinished. When it’s been totally refinished, you can ruin it. It’s all about the layers of wax and how you fix it.” Adds Withers: “Yes — we’re all craving a less formal environment than we had growing up. It’s great to take care of things, but at the same time people want to feel comfortable.”

Q: What do I do with Grandma’s sideboard?
In a really contemporary space, you can paint it if it’s not a great wood, according to Serba. If you’ve had it for a long time in your family and you lacquer it white, he says it becomes fun and you’re still using it. Withers notes that when you put Grandma’s sideboard in a more modern interior and add color, it makes the piece completely fresh and new.

Q: Is there a place for brown furniture — oak, walnut, and mahogany?
Serba says he loves to mix old mahogany pieces in with more contemporary things, adding: “I think it’s a good look.” Says Withers: “There’s a place for almost everything. For the most part, I go for simpler things, but you can find a special place for something more intricate.”

Q: Why do you use antiques in your design projects?
Says Serba: “I like mixing textures, and it looks a little more interesting, not like you bought the room out of a showroom.” Adds Withers: “Antiques are so much easier to find now!”

Q: How do you like to use antiques in your design projects?
Serba says he prefers tables with clean, straight legs and a more tailored look. In addition, you can reupholster an antique daybed and turn it into a more contemporary piece, have an old iron piece made into a cocktail table, or mount an antique door on a wall sideways, as art. Withers says she likes to use antiques in important spots, like an entryway. Information:, — By Jeanine Matlow

LEFT: Design by Serba Interiors; photo by Justin Maconochie. RIGHT:  Design by Jones-Keena & Co.; photo by Beth Singer.

Come As You Are

Some of the designers featured in this issue contemplate their favorite patio/deck entertainment must-haves | By Megan Swoyer




A. OVE Decors Edison light bulbs (24), $153, Home Depot,
B. Bose SoundLink speaker, $130, Best Buy,
C. Mottahedeh tobacco leaf tin plate, $12,
D. Golden Rabbit Cobalt Swirl dinner plate, $18, Found Objects, Birmingham
E. Zebrawood place setting, $115,
F. Large Big Green Egg grill, $1,074, area stores,
G. Woodard Wiltshire armchair, $1,571, Pine Tree Lighting & Furniture, Lake Orion
H. Juliska Lalana napkin, $15, The Italian Dish, Birmingham


Bistro strand lights around the deck provide soft overall lighting, and candles in lanterns create a warm glow. Also, a Bose portable speaker for music.


My music playlist. I have a pre-dinner list, a dinner list, and one just for sitting around the fire pit, which is always classic rock songs from 1969-1978. Also, my blue-and-white porcelain enamel dishware — no worries of breaking a dish. (See Lisa Petrella’s favorite summer spot to host a backyard party in this issue’s cover story.)


My collection of vintage tablecloths from the 1940s and ’50s, real cloth napkins, real plates, and silverware.


Mottahedeh tobacco leaf tin plates and a colorful vintage tablecloth. The Big Green Egg is also fired up for a fantastic grilled treat!


Our “reborn” Woodard Furniture, which we updated with Robert Allen Sunbrella fabric and gave it a face-lift with RePurpose Paint. (See the chairs in this issue’s In Residence story.)


On A Roll

Express yourself with easy-to-create monoprint-style artwork

 looking for just the right artwork for a certain space might want to consider making their own. Yep, artist or not, it’s that easy to create wall art — and it’s also a fun way to express yourself. Interior designers can jump in, too, or encourage their clients and family members to discover the artist within.

Those are the concepts behind Gelli Arts LLC, a Philadelphia-based company founded by marketing guru Lou Ann Gleason, above, and mixed-media artist Joan Bess, top. A graduate of the University of Michigan’s business school, Gleason, who grew up in St. Clair Shores, first worked at Procter & Gamble in the packaged soap and detergent area. The brand marketer eventually left P&G and became a marketing consultant. She met Bess after Bess’ husband, a co-worker of Gleason’s, told her his artist-wife had an idea and wanted to share it with Gleason.

“I walked into Joan’s kitchen and she pulls a cake pan (out of the fridge) with a gelatin-like slab in it. She put the slab on the counter and rolled paint on it with a brayer, then made some marks, and created a print from it on paper. I was amazed,” Gleason recalls. After finding a chemist to make a prototype of the slab (a durable, reusable surface), they held focus groups with everyone from non-artist types to artists, and it became evident that the product could have an extensive reach. “Everyone at the focus groups said, ‘When can we buy this?’ ” Gleason says. The women’s first sale was in 2011. Today, using an online ordering system, Gleason and Bess ship Gelli Arts products all over the world. They also stock a number of stores with kits and accessories.

In Gleason’s own home, several Gelli monoprints hang in the family room and dining area. “One of the first things I thought of when Joan showed me the process was: ‘I could be an artist!’ ”

On a recent afternoon, local artists/teachers Virginia LaMont Naegeli and Laura Whitesides Host, both of Birmingham, were given a Gelli Arts kit, and in a short time, they rolled out bright creations that feature layers of color, intriguing graphics from provided templates, and their own stencils. “The process of printmaking encourages your mind to think differently, especially when using the stencils. For example, (you have to think about) how and where you roll the paint onto the slab, and where it ends up on the paper print,” says Naegeli, whose work is shown below. Adds Host: “I’ve been doing this type of monoprint work and making my own slabs for several years; this is a conveniently cool kit because the slabs are ready-made and the kits come with some really fun colors.” (Host’s work is above, right.)

Gleason observes that users like to roll on layer upon layer of paint until they’re happy with it. “There’s really no way to make a mistake, and lots of people use different types of paper and backgrounds, like old sheet music or book pages. It’s incredible to see what people do with it.”

You can find the kits and accessories at Blick Art Materials in Dearborn, Royal Oak, and Detroit, or online at— By Megan Swoyer

What’s Cookin’ in Kitchens


FOUR YEARS AGO, Paul Kozicki, and his business partner and husband, Rick Kastler, expanded the ever-popular Kastler Construction Inc., a design and build firm in Clawson. The upshot was Visionary Cabinetry and Design, a full-service kitchen and bath design and remodel company. Here, Kozicki gives us an update on the latest kitchen trends:



Q: What kitchen cabinet trends are your clients 
asking for right now?

A: Cabinets with multifunctional islands. They’re becoming utilities in the kitchen with storage units that house micro-drawers, ovens, and sinks. We’re also seeing a lot of massive-sized islands with counter-height tables that are extensions of the kitchen island. Everyone wants a big island, and sometimes we have to move walls to make that happen. (See example at right.)

Q: How does kitchen design vary from baby boomers to millennials?Q: Tell us about the current color trends in kitchen cabinetry.
Gray is big, but we’re also mixing colors. We do a lot of islands in a darker color, then do the perimeter in a light color. Black is very popular, too, and so is navy. We just did a gray-and-black island that turned out really well.

A: For millennials, the kitchen is the heart of the home and they want a fabulous kitchen with the best appliances. They’re passionate about cooking, which is very cool. Millennials want their kitchen to be visible from every point in their home, so we position it as an open living space. As for baby boomers, a lot of them are downsizing, yet they want an open kitchen, too, because they’re coming from a larger living space.

Information: — By Linda Laderman

Natural Accents

Greenery tips for your interiors


INDOOR PLANTS ARE back in fashion — especially varieties that have cleaner lines and require less time. To learn more about this growing trend, we chatted with Sarah Williams, owner of H2OME in West Bloomfield, who offers interior design and plant design and care services. Inspired by her grandmother’s greenhouse, Williams, who hails from Harsens Island, touts the health benefits of houseplants, and counts their refreshing color among their many perks. “I love that they clean the air,” she says. Here are a few of her tips for living with indoor plants. The photos were taken at her client’s Irv Tobocman-designed home in Farmington Hills.

Q: What are the “it” plants right now?
I have many current favorites, like the fiddle-leaf fig with its thick, waxy leaf that has so much definition; it’s like a piece of art. I also like monstera for its artistic value, and I love elkhorn ferns as a good standby.

Q: What’s easy to care for?
ZZ plants and aglaonema are easy. Ficus is easy, too.

Q: What if I don’t have sun in a space that really needs a plant?
Peace lily doesn’t need a lot of sun, and aglaonema is the same. Philodendron is another one, and some ferns prefer shade.

Q: Why have plants?
have a client with an herb garden. There’s a sensory overload you get from herbs that puts people in a good mood. She says (the best) thing that ever happened to her is her herb garden. I love how therapeutic plants are just to touch, and to clean and nurture.

The plants shown below, left, are thyme, basil, and rosemary (herbs). Below, right, is a philodendron, receiving Williams’ special touch. Information: h2ome– — By Jeanine Matlow

EASTERN MARKET HQ: Floyd (, the online furniture brand that designs high-quality pieces, recently opened a new headquarters in Detroit’s Eastern Market. The space features Floyd’s first brick-and-mortar storefront. The shop, which brings the digital brand to life, allows customers to test its products. Co-owners say Floyd is the solution to the challenges of frustrating assembly and cheap, throwaway furniture.

• • •

UNDER ONE ROOF: Watch for the reopening of Berkley’s Tootie and Tallulah’s ( unique shop of home consignment, fair trade, and retail gifts, as they complete a move from two locations to one larger store at 2600 W. 12 Mile Rd. (the former Guildcrafter’s Quilt Shop). “So many great items in one place and mixing the old with the new makes it fun and different,” says owner Jeri Brand, who adds they likely will open in mid-summer.

• • •

OUT WITH IT: With Char-Broil’s ( new and luxurious eight-unit Modular Outdoor Kitchen system, shown below, it’s easy to make the most of Michigan’s barbecue-and-backyard-entertainment season with two or more customizable pieces, ranging from a five-burner, TRU-Infrared gas grill ($1,499) to a granite bar top ($249), or the entertainment module ($1,199), which provides prep space with a cutting board inset and more.

• • •

BEAUTY AND THE BEAK: Wild Birds Unlimited has opened a space at Goldner Walsh Garden & Home ( in Pontiac. Artwork from area artists is available for purchase. “It’s staffed by experts. We offer a shopping experience for nature lovers that combines America’s first and second most popular hobbies — gardening and birdwatching — in one destination,” says co-owner LuAnn Linkner. A must-see: the store’s entryway, which was built to look like a birdhouse!

• • •

FRAMING THE FUTURE: The Flint Institute of Arts ( recently opened its new Contemporary Craft Wing and a multipurpose, state-of-the-art glass arena provided by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The addition includes more than 20,000 square feet of new gallery and education space. Located in the FIA Art School, the 3,620-square-foot glass arena features glass, ceramics, and metalworking.

• • •

INNOVATIVE GIFT: Kids and adults of all ages, abilities, and needs will benefit from a $200,000 donation by the Moceri family to Innovation Hills (, off Hamlin Road near Adams Road. Being developed with nontraditional playground and recreation materials, the one-of-a-kind park will be universally accessible.

• • •

KOOL KOHLER: With views of a tree-lined ravine along a stretch of the Rouge River and 5,000 square feet of the sleekest and smartest kitchen and bath needs, First Supply, partners with Kohler, has opened its first Michigan KOHLER Signature Store in Birmingham ( “The space (a retail store and design showroom) is almost as compelling as the products,” says store manager Nathan Caspers.

• • •

WINE NOT?: Maison Birmingham (, a custom design-build studio, is partnering with Denver-based VintageView (, a leader in metal wine racking systems, to become the first official showroom display for VintageView wine racks in Michigan. (It’s among the first three in the nation.)

• • •

PEDAL POWER: Whether you’re in charge of the neighborhood block party or a busy parent prepping meals for a week’s worth of family dinners, Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool’s ( new Gladiator brand has the solution with the new Upright Freezer and All Refrigerator. With a stainless steel foot pedal to open the door, quick assistance is at hand!

• • •

RAISING ROI: According to a Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling magazine and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), garage door upgrades are “… one of the top four projects that generate the biggest return on investment,” says Heather Meiner, brand manager for the Overhead Door ( — By Honey Murray

Have news that pertains to the design industry that you’d like to share?
Send a note to: