Bulletin Board: Fall’s Calling

Countryside strolls, kitchen highlights, intriguing building trends, and more

Bulletin Board // In Residence // Décor Showcase

Le Fleur Decor
Le Fleur Décor in Hadley beckons with all things rustic and autumn, from garden accents to colorful gourds. Read about this destination shop inside this section. // Photo by CJ Benninger

Rodney Howell
Rodney Howell stages Aretha Franklin’s modern-contemporary great room with reds, whites, and blacks. Art donated by local artisans rounds out the décor. // Photo by Matthew LaVere

This Home Gets R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Creative stylist gives Aretha Franklin’s former home a tune-up

Rodney Howell of Southfield has a passion for style. The owner of two metro Detroit hair salons (hairshionsalon.com), Howell, above, has an impressive resume as an interior decorator and stylist. In fact, his love of style landed him a role on HGTV’s reality show, “My House is Worth What?” When he was invited to stage the Colonial-style Bloomfield Hills home of late music legend Aretha Franklin to prepare it for sale (as of press time, the home was listed with RE/MAX New Trend), it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Q: How did you get involved with this opportunity?

A: I’m a good friend of two of Aretha’s nieces. I was excited and extremely nervous. It took a minute to absorb it all.

Q: Did you have to follow a certain style or were you encouraged to be creative?

A: They encouraged me to be creative and gave me carte blanche. We did some upgrading and painted, using neutral colors that would make it easier to stage.

Q: Did you bring in new items or did you use the home’s existing contents?

A: Both. We used Aretha’s original art, and her piano — a beautiful red grand piano from her home on the Detroit Golf Course. We framed an invitation from one of her Christmas parties and displayed it on the piano.

Q: What were your favorite rooms?

A: The great room, dining room, and kitchen. The dining room has a mahogany table with pony-hair chairs. It was difficult finding pieces; the home is so high-end. The kitchen is huge and marvelous, and the countertops and floors are marble.

— Susan Rosiek

In the Current

What are the newest building trends clients are seeking?

Clean, open-feeling spaces with lighter colors, to accentuate furnishings. The clean and simple trend carries into millwork and cabinetry with white Shaker doors, two-panel interior doors, and plain bases and casings with a back band. In contrast to the open spaces for entertaining, a quiet, intimate sitting room to unwind after work is also high on most lists.

— Mark Affer, MSA Construction, Birmingham

Black trim, base moldings, doors, and casing and coffered ceilings, along with black contemporary, modern window styles. They want black for both exterior and interior finishes. Other requests include wide-width, light-colored, handcrafted engineered solid flooring; an outdoor lanai with a grilling area, television, and fireplace; and a mix of exterior siding materials (horizontal and vertical board and batten).

— Paul Kozicki, Kastler Construction Inc., Clawson

Improved insulation, improved (less) air infiltration, and more high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Customers are concerned about indoor air quality and limiting the use of formaldehyde, and other higher VOC (volatile organic compound) products. Customers today are more likely to install drinking water or whole-house water filtration systems, regardless of weather they have city water or a well.

— Mike Miller, Mike Miller building Co., Northville

Wide-plank, engineered wood floors are aesthetically pleasing, offer an exceptional  finish, and are better for expansion and contraction. Also popular are narrow-sight-line iron doors with lots of glass, for a vintage look, and large-format porcelain tile on walls, which offers a polished, textured look with a good variation of color.

— Dominic Abate, Heller & Associates, Pontiac

Black windows (exterior and interior trim). People want symmetry and clean lines. Other trends include wide-plank flooring with a natural lighter palette, glass and metal room dividers, painted shiplap, decorative wood beams, and expansive windows/doorwalls that bring the outdoors in. Families want spaces to be multifunctional, and some level of home automation is essential.

— Paul Mooney, PRM Custom Builders, Bloomfield Hills

Large-format porcelain surfaces for floors, walls, and countertops is a current trend. The technology is so advanced, it looks like real stone and has few seams. In color preferences, clients are asking for lighter, cooler colors — white, gray, and black. Bright surfaces with dark accents — floors, ceiling treatments, and wall coverings — are also popular.

— Sean Gardella, Sean D. Gardella & Associates, Birmingham

Grant HouseDetroit’s White House

The preservation of Ulysses S. Grant’s home is underway

The Greek Revival-style, white clapboard Detroit home, above, that President Ulysses S. Grant prepared for his new bride, Julia — and where they gardened, entertained, and welcomed their first child, Frederick — is being lovingly rehabilitated. The home, in which the couple lived from 1849-1850, was slated to be moved from its former location at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to Eastern Market by October, according to Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center (michigan.gov/mhc), and Laura Raisch, committee member of Heritage Michigan (granthomedetroit.org), a private, nonprofit foundation that’s helping to fund the project. The home was originally on East Fort Street, near military barracks at Russell and Clinton streets. Clark and Raisch discuss some of the home’s details.

Q: What kind of window treatments did Julia use?

A: “According to her memoirs,” Raisch says, “Julia hung burgundy wool drapes with white muslin sheers.” “Although the windows were replaced, the framing and interior trim seem to be original,” Clark adds.

Q: What about the couple’s kitchen and dishware?

A: “(Julia) had Dresden china, loved to cook, and said her kitchen was ‘so convenient for me to make my culinary experiments,’ ” Raisch says.

Q: What are the plans for  the home in Eastern Market?

A: “The home will be part of the Eastern Market garden project, and will once again include gardens and a small orchard,” Clark explains. It will showcase Grant’s life and the impact he made on Detroit, and as a Civil War general and U.S. president.

“In a letter to Julia,” Raisch adds, “Grant said the garden was ‘filled with the best kind of fruit and … an arbour grown over with vines that will bear fine grapes in abundance for us and to give away.’ ”

More information: granthomedetroit.org

— Honey Murray

The Big Island

Ricci Belucci
Bellucci portrait by Dorothy Shi

This 14-footer is making waves

A veteran of the design industry, Ricci Bellucci, right, who founded Bellucci Design Group in February, has seen his share of kitchen islands, but maybe nothing like the one he fashioned for Dennis and Susan Curry’s 1920s French Normandy farmhouse-style home in Birmingham (interior architecture by Glenda Meads Architects in Birmingham). Here, Bellucci, who designed cabinetry for the entire home, shares his insights on the quartz beauty, shown below.

Q: How was the island made?

A: For the top, Caesarstone (manmade quartz) slabs were book-matched to show the continuity of the veining. The corbels and panels were custom-made to accommodate the size of the island.

Q: Why so big?

A: Looking at the size of the cabinetry and the Miele appliances, we wanted to have symmetry and good scale. It’s copasetic with the other side of the room.

Ricci Island
Photo by Jeff Garland

Q: What’s your personal take on it?

A: The thing is, no matter how beautiful a home, it seems everyone always gathers at the island. Why not have a great one? You can have up to six stools at this island. And it’s extra special — it’s got a built-in cutting board designed by Mick De Giulio, a designer for Kallista.

More information: riccibellucci.com

— Megan Swoyer

Relax and Ramble

Enjoy a countryside stroll at Le Fleur Décor

Kelly Iler
Owner Kelly Iler, right, has stocked up on unique Halloween items. // Photo by CJ Benninger

Life is laid-back at Le Fleur Décor, located in the countryside, in Hadley (3442 Hadley Rd.). The store’s owner, Kelly Iler, is laid-back, too. ller’s home-décor business is situated northeast of Ortonville and is chock-full of many things Halloween this time of year.

On Iler’s three acres, customers can start browsing in her 100-year-old barn, which is filled with locally created gifts, recycled items, and original artwork; a purchase might include fresh-flower bouquets from Iler’s large flower garden. There, visitors will find zinnias, dahlias, coxcombs, sunflowers, statice, black-eyed Susans, and other flowers their great-grandmothers might recognize. Iler also sells succulents, vegetables, pumpkins aplenty, and dried flowers — really, a bit of everything.

The easygoing Iler was working at a warehouse supervising employees, but her employers wanted her to move to Chicago. She didn’t want to go, and instead opened her own business.

Le Fleur Decor storefront
Le Fleur Décor features a 100-year-old barn full of home accessories, including fall’s bounty. // Photo by CJ Benninger

“My father used some of my property for his own farmers market garden; when he passed away, I took over all of the vegetable gardens. Through the years, I was always adding something new,” Iler says. Five years ago, Iler married Jan Iler, her neighbor. “He’s helped a lot with the business, building arbors and huge structures on the property,” Iler says. It’s set up for rambling, and guests are encouraged to sit back and enjoy the surroundings at rustic tables and chairs. Lights are strung around the property, so the grounds twinkle at night. “People wander and find some great local art,” Iler says.

More information: call (586) 495-4076.

— Carol Hopkins

Adding Zest

A Redford living room and dining room go from stale to stunning

Redford Living Room Before
Before // Photo by Matthew LaVere

Built in the 1950s, an approximately 2,200-square-foot home in Redford originally belonged to Darby Trapp Eland’s grandparents, and she grew up just three blocks away. After residing in the home for the past 15 years, Eland, and her husband, Robert, reached out to designers Arturo Sanchez, and Barry Harrison, principals of Art|Harrison Interiors in Royal Oak. “Darby said she was tired of living with boring beige-on-beige,” Sanchez says. Here are few of the choice changes:

MELLOW YELLOW: “When you enter the living room, the first thing you see is a contemporary tufted sofa. It’s kind of the diva in the room, and everything else radiates around it,” Harrison says. “Its yellow color is bright, like sunshine.”

Art Harrison Designers
Arturo Sanchez (far left), Darby Trapp Eland (center), and Barry Harrison (right). // Photo by Matthew LaVere

SIP AND TUCK: Eland requested a second sofa that would be conducive to tucking her feet up when sipping champagne with her girlfriends, so the designers chose a crescent-shaped piece that’s thicker on one side and is upholstered with a gold, white, and black textured fabric.

IN THE FOLD: A cocktail table, made out of a flat piece of quarter-inch gold-leafed steel that has been folded to make it three-dimensional, sits in front of the crescent-shaped sofa.

Redford Living Room After
After // Photo by Matthew LaVere

TABLE TALK: In the nearby dining room, the designers replaced the home’s dark-stained wooden table with a brand-new contemporary one that features a frosted oval anti-scratch glass top and a cylinder-shaped cement base.

GRAY MATTERS: Once mustard yellow, the living room and dining room walls now sport Essential Gray, from Sherwin-Williams.

More information: artharrison.net.

— Judith Harris Solomon

FIELD NOTES: Home-Related Tips, Trends, and Tidbits

BATHROOM SPICE: Ginger’s (gingerco.com) new Chelsea, Circe, and London Terrace collections, below, are tops. At Wittock Supply, Shelby and Progressive Plumbing Supply, Warren.

Chelsea Circe


NOW THAT’S INTELLIGENT: HomeAware (sonicalert.com) uses transmitters and receivers to alert you to alarms from home security, carbon monoxide detectors, baby monitors, and more.


GENTLE STRENGTH: For home siding, decks, and more, consider a soft-wash cleaning method with long-lasting results, suggest the folks at Lake State Cleaning (lakestatecleaning.com).


TAKE A DIP: With a slipper-tub-inspired shape, the newly relaunched, made-in-the-USA Chelsea bathtub, below, from Hastings Tile & Bath (hastingstilebath.com), offers a nice balance between traditional and contemporary design. The freestanding bathtub comes in two sizes.

USA Chelsea Bathtub


CHAIRS TO CHERISH: In honor of the 100th birthday of the Bauhaus, Knoll (knoll.com) reintroduced the iconic Cesca chair, below, with new bar and counter stools, and a two-toned upholstery option. At A.K. Rikk’s in Grand Rapids.

Knoll Cesca Chair


WAXING NATURAL: Ferndale’s Green Daffodil (greendaffodil.com) now offers Candle Pour Parties. “They’re for socializing, celebrating an event,  or just a night out,” say the gift shop’s owners.


GLOW FLOW: “(When) planning for the holiday season, don’t forget to look up!” says Royal Oak’s Carrie Long (carrielonginteriors.com). “Your dining room light fixture is the centerpiece of the room, and swapping it out can be a simple solution for adding warmth, texture, and personality.”

— Honey Murray

Have news that pertains to the design industry that you’d like to share? Send a note to MSwoyer@hour-media.com.