Bulletin Board: Living in Style

Wow wallpaper, stone accents, a young real estate entrepreneur, practical-and-pretty aprons, and custom monograms


Bulletin Board | In Residence | Décor Showcase

Vining Moss Wallpaper - Kelly Ventura Wallpaper
Kelly Ventura of Milford created this Vining Moss wallpaper and several more designs. Read about them inside this section.

Tie it On

These aprons are a modern take on the classic

MadMade Design Aprons

A cool concept for the kitchen: Made-in-the-USA, reversible aprons that are so nice, you might want to wear them through dinner. MadMade Design Aprons’ tunic-style creations (one is shown here) feature 14 different print combinations and various sizes (something unique in the apron world), while wide shoulder straps make them comfortable. Need to hold a few items like a phone, your glasses, and a recipe pad? The full-width designs make that easy, too. “I love to cook and entertain, and always wear an apron to protect my clothes,” says company founder Madeleine Sklar, “but the straps on most aprons pulled on my neck and irritated me, so I decided to design a comfortable apron for myself. Besides being supremely comfortable, I wanted them to have a flattering fit, hide stains, have practical pockets, and look attractive without being cutesy.”

More information: madmadedesign.com.

— Megan Swoyer

Dutch Treat

Belle Isle’s new garden, created by a renowned designer, is an all-volunteer endeavor

World-renowned Dutch Garden designer Piet Oudolf (inset) is creating an exciting new garden, see sketch below, on Belle Isle. Construction begins this summer, and the first 18,000 plants — sourced primarily from Michigan growers — will be planted in September. The garden is expected to open to the public in early fall 2020. Enchanted with Oudolf’s work, the Garden Club of Michigan sent him a letter requesting his help in late 2016. Members believed his approach to public garden design was a perfect fit for Belle Isle. An all-volunteer group, Oudolf Garden Detroit, has been overseeing all aspects of the project.

Belle Isle's new garden, designed by Piet Oudolf

During his 30-year career, Oudolf has collaborated on spaces all over the world, including the renowned High Line in New York. He’s also the author of nine books on plant and garden design. “I started doing private gardens in 1975 and became well-known after creating my first public garden in Sweden in 1996,” the horticulturist says. Bold drifts of herbaceous perennials and grasses are hallmarks of Oudolf’s creations. “In my designs, you feel like you’re part of it,” he says. “They encompass you as you walk through them.” A project of this scope is costly, and requires financial support. Partners include the Garden Club of Michigan and the Belle Isle Conservancy. An endowment fund has been created at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to support the garden’s maintenance.

Donate funds or sign up to volunteer at oudolfgardendetroit.org.

— By Judith Harris Solomon

Summer Solace

Some of the subjects featured in this issue reveal their favorite havens // By Megan Swoyer

Summer Solace - Products
Sit, Sip, or Splash A. Lane Venture Celerie Kemble Mimi Collection cuddle chair and canopy, starting at $2,955, RJ Thomas, Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy  B. Sol&Luna leather watering can, $85, Industry West, industrywest.com C. Quilted Sunbrella hammock in navy/gray, $259 L.L. Bean, Clinton Twp. D. Frida colorful drinkware Margarita glass, cocktail glass, and salt rimming dish, $12.95-$13.95, Crate & Barrel, Troy  E. Pool Central 68.5-inch inflatable multicolor popsicle float, $26, Bed Bath & Beyond, bedbathandbeyond.com F. Classic Adirondack chair, $400; foot stool, $139 (available in several colors), The Home & Garden Shop, Troy G. HOMES ceramic mug, $15, Peninsulas, Berkley
What’s your go-to spot for enjoying the summer months at your home?

“A lovely black iron sofa scattered with pillows on my back patio. This is where I start the day with a cup of coffee, soaking up the sunshine and the calming scent of lavender, which surrounds the seating area.”

— Desiree Dutcher, Preservation & Renovation LLC, Berkley

“The outdoor seating area that overlooks our pool. I enjoy our summer season out there, watching my children splash around, having a blast!”

— Jennifer Asmar, Asmar Interiors, Troy

“A hammock that hangs between large trees that grow through our deck. Lying under those trees, I can feel both away and here at the same time.”

— Daryl Toby, Aguafina Gardens International, Sylvan Lake

“The rear patio overlooking our property — preferably in June to July, when the catmint (nepeta) are in full bloom and the mass of Hameln grass plantings are lush and full.  (This space) settles the soul and properly aligns what’s important in the rush of life.”

— Ryan Youngblood, R. Youngblood & Co., Rochester 

“The Adirondack seating area overlooking Spring Lake at our Holly cottage. From this shaded, hilltop view, the voices of nature and God seem to converge. It’s a place to reflect and listen.”

— Dawn Jacobs, Artichoke Interiors, Holly

“My sun-filled patio, surrounded by my perennial garden with its lush blush-pink and fuchsia peonies that smell heavenly, and tall grasses that make the most soothing sound in the wind.”

— Megan Bildstein, Meg Corley Premier Interiors, Southfield

Getting Real (Estate)

Jordan Wolfe: Still bullish on Detroit’s residential comeback

Jordan WolfeWhere some see blighted neighborhoods, Jordan Wolfe, right, sees opportunity. He envisions a prosperous  community rooted in the commitment and labor of small businesses and residents. The 36-year-old entrepreneur has spent the last decade making a significant mark on Detroit’s resurgence. “The mission is to stabilize the community block by block, supporting small business,” says Wolfe, co-founder and CEO at Detroit-based Town Partners (thetownpartners.com), a real estate investment and development company. Wolfe and Kyle Polk launched Town Partners in 2013. Their approach to development is holistic, and has played a key role in retaining and attracting young talent to Detroit. “Create things young people want to do and the environment where they want to be,” says Wolfe, who  grew up in West Bloomfield and studied international finance. He moved back to Detroit from San Francisco (where he worked at Mainsail Partners) in 2009 to care for his parents when their health was failing. He says his father’s struggle with multiple sclerosis helped shape his view of success. “Seeing my dad go through what he did, I’m a big believer in the idea that it’s fine to make money, but we need to get away from making money at all costs. We need to be intentional,” he says. Wolfe maintains that the key to fulfillment is to understand “what’s your motivation,” and he always makes decisions based on that principle. “Never waver from that ethos; stay true to yourself,” he says. What’s next on his agenda? Development projects (Milwaukee Junction, east of the New Center area, and Eastern Market Gateway), serving as a role model to other millennial developers, and staying focused on opportunities to create change.

— By Susan Rosiek

Got You Covered

A Milford-based surface designer launches wallpaper business

Kelly VenturaDesign has always played an important role in  surface designer Kelly Ventura’s life. (Surface design is any type of artwork — pattern, illustration, hand-lettering, etc. — that is intended to be applied to a surface, such as fabric or wallpaper.)

“By the time I was 5 years old, I was drawing and crafting paper rainbows, including sunshine and a couple of birds. I used to fold them up in an empty tissue box and sell them on my sidewalk for a nickel,” she recalls.

Since she created a studio in 2012 in her Milford home, Ventura, left, who has a degree in fine arts from the University of Michigan, has built a reputation for her floral and print patterns . In 2018, she launched her custom wallpaper (see some of the samples here and on the opening page of this section). This year, she moved into a studio in downtown Milford.

We caught up with her to find out how she went from drawing rainbows to creating a signature wallpaper line.

Q: What influenced your decision to design wallpaper?

A: After college I had an internship at Elizabeth Dow, Ltd., an upscale design boutique in New York City that sells textiles, art, and custom wall coverings. All of the wallpaper was just beautiful — handmade and hand-painted. That was my first introduction to surface design.

Kelly Ventura Wallpaper Swatches

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: I love color, texture, and experimenting. Some of my best patterns have come out of mixing different pigments, or buying a new paintbrush and seeing how the paint pools. It might make the most beautiful marks that I can put into a pattern. I like to play and see where I end up.

Q: What do you think customers think of your work?

A: What I’m hearing from my clients and showroom representatives is that my work feels new and fresh. They’ve told me that I’m filling a void they didn’t know was there until now. My florals are creative and playful, with a different kind of energy, and I think that’s reflected in my patterns.

See Ventura’s collection or order samples at kellyventura.com.

— By Linda Laderman

Sculptural Beauty

Carving everything from fireplace surrounds to limestone busts, Autumn Bildson’s work is rock-solid

Autumn BildsonMichigan sculptor Autumn Bildson, left, of Black River, discovered a passion for stone-carving after taking a stone-carving class at the Birmingham Bloomfield Arts Center (BBAC). “I loved it,” Bildson says. “Ever since, I’ve spent every free minute on my stone-carving.” Her love for sculpture spurred Bildson to create a body of work that can be found in homes, public spaces, and buildings statewide. We asked Bildson, owner of Stone Art Studio, a few questions about her work.

Q: How did you establish your business?

A: People started to see my sculptures and then someone asked me if I could teach stone-carving at the BBAC.  I started doing that, and I still do. Then an architect asked me if I could design a fireplace. Since then, my work has grown so much that now my husband works with me on some projects; he does all the woodworking.

Q: What type of sculptures can clients commission?

A: I’ve done a lot of architectural elements for buildings. I’ve created bronzes, relief sculptures, and full-body busts in limestone. I can carve virtually anything in stone.

Stone Art Studios Fireplace
Stone Art Studios Photos by CJ Benninger

Q: Tell us about the special carving you did for the Fuller home (shown above) in Birmingham. How would you describe it?

A: The homeowner wanted what I call an “under the sea” design. The piece is a sculpture with carved coral shells, fish, sand dollars, and flowers of the sea. To make it look realistic, it had to be undercut, which is a process that creates dimension. In some areas it’s carved 2 inches deep. The fireplace has nine pieces and is made from Indiana limestone. Limestone is essentially seashell sediment, so I carved something based on the sea with material that actually came from there.

More information: stoneartstudio.org.

— By Linda Laderman

Making a Name for Yourself

Designer Michael Coyne creates unique custom monogram designs

Michael CoyneInterior designer Michael Coyne, right, principal of both Michael Coyne Design Detroit and Bespoke Monograms, says he’s been fascinated with letters since the age of 7, when he first saw his mother’s wedding album.

“Everything displayed on her gift table was embroidered or engraved,” he says.“A few years ago, I created my first actual monogram, which combined my initials with the ones of my partner.”  Subsequently, Coyne started gifting his friends with his custom creations and, by 2016, he decided to open his Bespoke Monograms business. “Same-sex couples rarely take the same last name when they marry, so utilizing the initials of both partners’ last names became the touchstone of my work,” he explains. Adds the designer: “These aren’t your grandmother’s monograms. Instead, they’re contemporary, and the application of this artwork is limitless.”

Clients have used Coyne’s custom monogram designs on phone cases, eyeglass cases, journals, you name it. Coyne says one prospective client plans to clip the boxwood hedge on his front lawn into the shape of a block monogram,“but the most unusual is yet to be had.”

More information: michaelcoynedesign.com.

— By Judith Harris Solomon

MAKE MINE PEPPERONI: Take a break from a burger barbecue with the Roccbox (gozney.com) pizza oven: a portable, outdoor, stone-floor oven with wood or gas cooking capability, shown below, available at Williams-Sonoma, Ann Arbor, Novi, Troy (williams-sonoma.com).

Roccbox pizza oven


PARSLEY, SAGE, AND MORE: Gardener and master ecologist Rachel Engle (a consultant on permaculture lawn replacement) will host an herb spiral class at her Ferndale farmstead on June 30. “Guests will leave with an herb spiral plan, a tea bouquet, and an herbal infusion,” she says. Register and get more information at reveter.com.


WALKING THE PLANK: Duchateau (duchateau.com), an innovator of high-end wooden flooring, has launched new, European collections featuring artisanal, wide-planked flooring and hand-finished wall coverings (below). The products are available at Superb Flooring, Troy.

Duchateau Hand-finished wall covering


SHOW HOUSE 2020: The Junior League of Detroit’s (jldetroit.org) 2020 Show House is the historic Bingley Fales House in Detroit’s Indian Village. It’s recognized in The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.


ALFRESCO COMFORT: With South American-inspired textiles in stripes, dots, and solids,  Antonio Citterio’s Ribes Outdoors modular and multifaceted seating collection, shown below, transforms any outdoor living space. At Arkitektura (arksf.com), Birmingham.

Antonio Citterio’s Ribes Outdoors modular and multifaceted seating collection


SAFETY FIRST: Available in custom colors, with self-closing gates — and a lifetime guarantee — Life Saver Pool Fence (michiganpoolfence.com) helps protect pool owners from childhood drownings (the No. 1 cause of deaths of children under 5 in several states).

— By Honey Murray

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