Bulletin Board: Winter Tidings

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Now serving — appetizers! Holiday Icon canape plates, $10/ea. from Anthropologie, are crowd-pleasers. Scroll for more entertaining ideas.

She Rocks with Blocks

Printmaker carves out intriguing
house portraits and more

When artist Natalia Wohletz, right, isn’t studying math, environmental studies, and art at Kalamazoo College, she’s typically wielding a cool little tool with which she carves pictures onto linoleum blocks. “It’s fun because printmaking is all backwards in terms of the reductive process,” says Wohletz, of White Lake. Much of her work is created at her family’s summer home on Mackinac Island, where she turns out not only home portraits but also island motifs. She and her photographer mother, Jennifer, run Mackinac Memories, which focuses on publishing, art, stationery, and more. Printmaking involves carving out areas that you don’t want on the paper (or finished artwork), coating the resulting block with paint (in stages) and then printing the block onto paper. The image at far right underwent four steps of carve-paint-press. “When carving, I control the direction and can make funky textures,” the artist says. “It’s meditative and problem-solving.” Commissions available at mackinacislandmemories.com.

—Megan Swoyer

Turning the Page

Local artist’s work graces
the Neiman Marcus/Horchow catalogs

A print of an abstract blue floral painting by artist Lenore Gimpert is available from both the Neiman Marcus and Horchow catalogs and websites. “And right now, Neiman Marcus is considering some other pieces of mine for their future catalogs,” the Birmingham painter says. Beyond florals like the one below, the artist is also known for her “Tutu” series, below right; each one of these 40- by 60-inch mixed media works on paper features a joyous image of a tutu. “They’re all about freedom and happiness. I’ve been doing them for 20 years and have probably sold 500 just in this area. I do a mixture of realism and abstract. I like to use a lot of oil paints, varnish, and wax, and I do drips and layers,” says Gimpert, a Grosse Pointe native who shares she’s wanted to be an artist since she was a young girl. “When kids came over to play, I would say: ‘I can’t come out to play. I have to paint.’ ” Gimpert’s work is represented by TRA Art Group, Jones-Keena and Co., DCF gallery, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, and Luxe Homes, among others. lenoregimpert.com

—Judith Harris Solomon

You’re Invited

Some of this issue’s subjects share their favorite holiday gathering
must-haves — plus, we spy some cool party essentials | By Megan Swoyer

I never met a roll of beautiful ribbon that didn’t call to me, so no matter the size or cost of a gift, I try to choose paper and ribbon that reflect the gift recipient.

Being from the south, my mint julep cups — for a holiday display or for a cup of chilled eggnog.

 There’s certain music and food that brings me back to my childhood during this magical time of year, so classic Christmas music by singers like Johnny Mathis. Plus, we enjoy the tradition of serving appetizers such as a macadamia cheese ball, beef tenderloin, and shrimp cocktail — the classics!

Govino’s shatterproof wine glasses. (Called Go Anywhere, they’re also
reusable and recyclable).

 Place cards. I write guests’ names with a calligraphy pen. I often keep them and reuse them, even with red wine spilled on them. When guests comment on the stain, I tell them they must have had a lot of fun at the last dinner party!


A. Bay leaf and pepperberry wreath, $59.95, Williams-Sonoma, Troy B. Smoky quartz whiskey cubes from ANNA by RabLabs, $145/six, Zieben Mare, Franklin C. Holiday Icon mugs by Molly Hatch, $14/ea., Anthropologie, metro Detroit-area stores, anthropologie.com D. Copper and white ornaments, $29.95/10, Crate & Barrel, Troy E. Decorative pine trees, $69.95 and $89.95, Crate & Barrel, Troy F. Lia bottlestopper from ANNA by RabLabs, $80, Zieben Mare, Franklin G. Modern Home Collection dining credenza, starts at $1,877, Hillside Furniture, Bloomfield Hills.

Furnishing Love

Humble Design is on the move in more ways than one

About eight years ago, Treger Strasberg met a woman who was moving out of a homeless shelter. She had nothing. “Her children made beds out of clothing, shaping them into nests. I couldn’t sleep knowing this was going on,” says the mother of two children, who were toddlers at the time. Compelled to help the woman, Treger, of Birmingham, took a rather grassroots approach: “I drove around with a friend (Ana Smith) to pick up used furniture and other items for the woman,” she recalls. Treger asked neighbors, acquaintances at her kids’ daycare, and even strangers at the check-out line at Target for things they’d like to donate.

The two women began to store these items in their garages for not only the woman in need, but others as well. In 2009, they founded Humble Design, a nonprofit organization based in Pontiac that helps families emerging from homelessness set up a clean, friendly, and dignified home. The organization partners with local homeless and abuse shelters to identify families that are leaving shelters and moving into low-income housing, explains Treger, now Humble’s CEO.

When Humble Design gets involved, volunteers — many of whom are interior designers or have a talent for interior design — transform the homes into warm, inviting spaces. But more than that, clients receive kindness and dignity. Treger’s husband, Rob (the couple is pictured above), has joined forces with his wife and taken on Humble Design as a full-time client at his advertising agency, Doner, where he’s co-CEO and creative officer. During a recent visit, the two told us the story of Humble Design and its current needs.

Q: Did Humble Design grow quickly?
A: “A year into it, we had 100 families on our waiting list,” Treger says. “We were doing one home every six weeks. So I decided to do this full time, and it’s been my life’s work ever since. This week, we will have helped 700 families.”

Q: What do you need?
A: “Books and toys, used or new,” Treger says. “Also, new bathroom items. Children’s new bedding and mattresses. And, of course, new or used furniture, artwork, pots and pans — you name it.”

Q: Surprise donation:
A: “An NBA player once gave us a full house of furniture,” Treger recalls. “That was really great.”

Q: How do you now get things from Point A to Point B?
A: “We’re most grateful for a truck (shown below) donated by U-Haul,” Rob says. “Doner designed the truck’s exterior with Humble graphics, and U-Haul wrapped it.”

Q: Kids are super crazy about:
A: “Books, their own beds, and some cool things we make in our craft room at the warehouse,” Treger says. “We interview families and hear what they like, such as gardening, superheroes, et cetera. Then, in our craft room, we’ll paint, say, an old lamp with Spiderman graphics, that kind of thing. Kids love it.”

Q: Do you follow up with your clients?
A: “Definitely,” Treger says. “Our statistics reveal that without our help, about 50 percent of families return to a homeless shelter. Only 1 percent of our families have returned to a shelter. Humble Design often inspires families to start their own nonprofits or help others. One woman turned her house into a makeshift soup kitchen. Another started a nonprofit for teens (teaching them) how to identify abuse and domestic violence.”

Q: How does good design inspire?
A: “Humble Design isn’t just furniture and accessories,” Rob says. “It’s dignity, it’s pride, it’s ownership.” Adds Treger: “With a well-designed and inviting home, all family members benefit. They have more time and greater resources to focus on education, home life, employment, and building a better future.”

Q: What’s next?
A: “We now have 600 volunteers in Michigan and 14 paid employees. We’re hoping to expand not only in Michigan, but nationally,” Rob says. “And, of course, we’re always looking for new corporate sponsorships.”

Q: The best moment of the whole process?
A: “The reveal. When a family comes in to see what we’ve done, it’s special,” Treger says. Adds Rob: “It’s a life-changing moment when they see a house that’s been changed into a home.”

How to help: Donations accepted 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Mon.-Fri. at 180 N. Saginaw, Pontiac. For a glimpse of this past October’s fundraiser, refer to this issue’s House Party section. humbledesign.org.

—Megan Swoyer

Nature’s Way

Brian Patrick Flynn puts finishing touches
on Ann Arbor’s HGTV Urban Oasis project

Brian Patrick Flynn, left, may call Iceland and Atlanta home, but he says it was Michigan’s natural palette of greens and blues that inspired his latest project. The popular producer-turned-interior designer was in Ann Arbor recently to unveil HGTV’s seventh Urban Oasis. The renovated 1920s bungalow  (its dining room is shown below) will be given away in December to a lucky winner. We caught up with Flynn to find out what design enthusiasts can take away from the project, even if they don’t ultimately win the grand prize.

Q: Can you explain your captivating mix of furniture and accessories?
Every room has something special, something practical, and something in between. The idea was to have some custom pieces paired with more practical items. The reality, for most people, is that you can’t have $20,000 drapes because your kid will barf on them.

Q: What are some other design lessons that can be gleaned from the project?
I think we’re moving to greens and blues as new neutrals. Colors seen in nature always work together. I also see a trend toward tone-on-tone, layered shades of gray or green.

Q: What are your favorite paint colors?
A few go-tos are Sherwin-Williams’ Tricorn Black, Glidden’s Stone White, and Barely Blush, and Pratt & Lambert’s New York Minute — a gorgeous peacock blue. The master walls and ceiling are Blue Shamrock by Olympic, in eggshell, and the same color, only in semi-gloss, is used on the trim. The room above features Valspar’s Sparkling Sage.

For more on this home, refer to this issue’s Color Corner section.

—Khristi S. Zimmeth

Wine and Wonders

The Detroit Area Art Deco Society enjoys
a beverage tour while drinking in architectural beauty

When Jennifer Baross, left, and fellow board members of the Detroit Area Art Deco Society planned their fall Detroit Wine Stroll as part of the sixth annual Detroit Design Festival, they prepared walking maps with directions to the stroll’s venues, including Angelina Italian Bistro, Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine, and Rusted Crow Spirits, while mixing in Art Deco-style architectural gems like the Guardian (shown below), David Stott, and Penobscot buildings, among others. We joined the group to learn more from Baross about this architecture-loving society.

Q: What is the Detroit Area Art Deco Society?
The 30-year-old society is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit group of metro Detroiters who love the architecture, fashion, textiles, graphics, automobiles, artifacts — everything! — about the Art Deco period, which lasted from about 1925 to 1945.

Q: What are some of the things that you do?
We host lectures and tours, and we create events. Some favorites include tours of the Elwood Grill; the gritty Packard Plant; the beautiful Salvation Army building, which was recently renovated by DTE and renamed Navitas (Latin for “energy”) House; and the Guardian Building.

Q: How does the society help preserve Art Deco history?
In 1993, we did a thorough survey of Detroit’s Art Deco architecture, which we photographed and cataloged. We also created a $1,000 scholarship, which we award every year to an Eastern Michigan University student in the school’s Historic Preservation program.

Q: Any special events coming up?
On April 8, we’re hosting the preview party for the Michigan Modernism Expo in Southfield. The festivities will include great food and entertainment, and a vintage fashion show featuring a vintage auto.

To join the Detroit Area Art Deco Society, visit daads.org.

—Honey Murray

Wine and wonders photos by Jack P. Johnson

Birmingham-based interior designer Lisa Petrella (petrelladesigns.com) recently opened an office in Corktown. Called LLP Construction Services (llpservicesinc.com), it’s located at 1800 Michigan Ave. It focuses on construction management, general contracting, and design, says Petrella, left.

Plano, Texas-based At Home (athome.com) has a new 122,000-square-foot home décor superstore at 2101 Telegraph Rd. in Bloomfield Hills. It offers some 50,000 items, ranging from seasonal and holiday decorations to patio furniture, home furnishings, rugs, and more.

Tenue, a new lifestyle boutique on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, features home furnishings, apparel, jewelry, and more. Owner Michelle Grates, left, carries Juliska home and gift items, including decanters, vases, bowls, and pitchers. In addition, look for cowhide trays, boxes, and barware accessories, as well as Jonathan Adler furniture pieces and stylish coffee table books.

The TH Muller Galleri (thmullergalleri.com) is now open in Detroit’s Rivertown neighborhood, at 2987 Franklin St. The gallery is located in the Dongan Building, which once housed a manufacturing facility that made military parts for WWII. Swedish-based artist Thomas Muller, whose works fill the gallery, was in town for the opening.

As part of recognizing its 70th anniversary, Birmingham’s Mills Pharmacy + Apothecary (millspharmacy.com) has opened an apothecary pop-up in midtown Detroit in the Stuber-Stone Building. The pop-up will remain open until the end of 2017. The company reports that it’s looking for a permanent Detroit location in addition to its Birmingham shop.

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