Good Clean Fun

Penny Heideman

Who: Penny Heideman, owner of Lake Orion-based Interiors by Holmes, LLC, has 20 years of experience in both residential and commercial design. Her love for design developed at an early age with influences from both her mother, who was a seamstress, and father, who was in the landscape business. “Their background roused an interest in texture, color, natural materials, and architectural structure in my design process,” Heideman says. “I enjoy the creativity that is inspired by my clients’ needs and the interesting challenges that come with home-remodeling.  Further, the process feels effortless when working with talented craftsmen such as those of Hemphill Builders (builder of this home).”

Info: 248-202-2267


Life Cycle: A Laundry Room for a Young Family With two young children, homeowners Angie and Paul Blowers needed to maximize their space for efficiency in their renovated Bloomfield Township quad-style home. Although the laundry room’s large window allowed natural light, it monopolized much-needed wall space. The solution? A stackable washer and dryer, as well as cabinets installed by Hemphill Builders, based in Birmingham; a well-positioned laundry tub; and practical countertops, all streamlining functionality. “We kept the existing walls, but we re-routed the plumbing, electrical, and dryer vent,” says Dan Hemphill, president of Hemphill Builders. By moving the washer and dryer away from the window, Heideman took advantage of the space by adding a custom-made bench (by Interiors by Holmes, $400). It doubles as a seat and folding area.


Practicalities Plus: Hampton Bay’s cabinet in Satin White, $99/ea.; Tempo laminate countertop in Tumbled Roca, $45; and Delta stainless kitchen faucet, $99, all from The Home Depot,


Lighten Up: Sherwin-Williams’ Useful Gray, SW 7050, is a “soft gray, allowing for contrast yet bright to keep the room light,” Heideman says.


Fab Fabric: Pindler fabric in Oak, $57/yd., and Mist (similar to room photo), both $57/yd., Pindler Showroom, Michigan Design Center, Troy,  “The blue-green fabrics for the window treatment and cushion give a chore area a cheery feel,” Heideman says.


Timeless Accents: The mini, preserved wreaths (on wall behind door in room photo), Park Hill Collection, $84/six, “are cute and I use them often in designs.”


Wash & Ware: New and Useful Products for Laundry Day

Left: All-natural detergent, lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus, $8.50,

Right: The Organically Clean Home book, $12, and Barnes & Noble stores.

Left: Fresh Linen mist, $24, Detroit Garden Works, Sylvan Lake,,

Center: Rowenta Eco iron, $150, Bed Bath & Beyond stores,

Right: All-natural goat’s milk detergent with essential oils, $16,


Julia Knevels

Who: Julia Knevels, owner of Julia Knevels Interiors, has 28 years of experience and a Detroit Home Design Award under her belt. The Birmingham-based designer has taken on projects that span the globe, including the Netherlands and England. Her love of art, fostered by her fine art studies in Germany and the Netherlands, is apparent in every space she touches, including this laundry room. “Every space in the house should be pretty,” Knevels says.

Info: 248-540-7412


Life Cycle: a renovated basement calls for a spacious laundry room: Because this basement, in a 1936 Birmingham home, has a low ceiling and ceiling pipes that couldn’t easily be re-routed, designer Julia Knevels suggested that her clients finish the ceilings and build spaces for various rooms (exercise area, wine cellar, laundry room, etc.) within the lower level’s large footprint. “We don’t love doing chores,” Knevels concedes, “so it’s even more important to have a laundry room that feels good to be in while we work.” She outfitted it with an antique English bench, $1,200, Betty Mason Classic Country Antiques,, and an antique botanic lithograph, $225, Merwins Antiques Gallery, 248-258-3211, both in Birmingham; and a handy basket, $105, The Home and Garden Shop, Troy, 248-288-2233.


A Perfect Duet: “This Whirlpool style has the highest rating,” Knevels says. Duet steam washer with precision dispense and steam dryer/moisture sensing. (Whirlpool is in both homes shown on these pages.) Hawthorne Appliances & Electronics, Birmingham.


Lemon Fresh: “My clients purchased the Lemon Trees Restaurant photograph on canvas (by Luciano Duse) at the Birmingham Art Fair— it’s of one of their favorite restaurants in Italy.” $2,150, Of note: Duse was born and raised in Venice, Italy, and has lived in Petoskey since the 1960s.


Hedge Fun: “The boxwood hedge is made from real boxwood that has been preserved,” Knevels says. “It adds some life to the room.” Ballard, $79 for triple-ball, or Napa Home and Garden, to the trade.


Painting While the Iron’s Hot: Planchadora, by Roberto Fernandez Balbuena, is a print of a 1902 painting the designer saw in Spain. “I loved it so much that I now hang a copy of the print in many clients’ laundry rooms.” Printed with permission, courtesy of Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.


More Laundry Day Helpers

Left: Toxin-free The Laundress’ Delicate Wash Lady, $19, Woodward & Maple, Birmingham.

Right: Rowenta Ultra-Steam steambrush, $40, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy’s stores.

Left: Laundry detergent Cashmere, $40, Detroit Garden Works, Sylvan Lake,,

Center: Fresh Linen votive, $12, Detroit Garden Works, Sylvan Lake,,

Right: The Laundress’ scented drawer sheets, $18/six,  Woodward & Maple, Birmingham.



Luxury organization specialist creates a hardworking — and pretty — linen closet 

So you’ve got a great-looking laundry room — or plans for one. Now, on to the linen closet.  Professional organizer Lauren Combs (left), who runs the Birmingham-based office for national luxury organizing company Neat Method (it’s in nine states), is all about perfectly folded and stacked towels, properly labeled bins, smart folding techniques, and more. Combs, a self-admitted Type A who comes from a family of planners, visits homes in the area to add style and practicality to everything from pantries and nurseries to craft rooms and linen closets.

“What we do is not only helpful for the homeowner, but also the homeowner’s nannies, babysitters, and visiting relatives,” says Combs, who previously worked for Milliken Carpets and Ann Sacks tile and stone. “We label everything so that everyone in the house knows where things belong.”

The linen closet shown here is that of Lisa Bailey of Birmingham. Bailey moved into her newly built home sensing she’d need a bit of assistance in the organizing department. As a busy new mother and owner of Lisina, a private-chef company, one of her first goals was to set up a nice-looking — and efficient — linen closet.

“The baby goes through linens quickly, and if my mother or mother-in-law is here, it’s helpful to have an organized linen closet so they know where to find things and where to put things away,” Bailey says.

Thanks to Combs, Bailey’s new set-up includes chic bins made of various materials; all are in neutral gray tones, to complement the closet paint and towel colors. Each stack and basket/bin is labeled with black tags and neat, white writing (done by Combs). “We normally use black tags but sometimes, say in a kid’s space, we’ll run with various colors,” says Combs, who often has three assistants working with her.  The company also oversees whole-home move-ins, unpacking, and more.

Combs says when it comes to linens, one of her clients’ biggest challenges is how to fold a fitted sheet. “It’s all about tucking the sheet under the corners before the final fold,” she explains. Clients also are never sure whether they should separate pillowcases from sheets when putting them away. “We don’t,” Combs says. “The Neat Method suggests keeping all parts together.” And for those items that don’t fold nicely, like bath rugs? “Place them in a bin,” she says.

As for toiletries and medicines, Combs says the linen closet is often the only place for folks to store them, and that’s fine. “Just be sure you keep like items together, labeled,” she says. Get rid of items that have expired or, if it’s makeup, get rid of anything that’s been around for more than a year. “You can always donate things like hotel shampoos to those in need,” Combs says. She and her group often provide clients’ unused items to Humble Design ( — a Detroit-based nonprofit organization that helps families transition out of homeless shelters by providing furnishings and design services).

So how long does the orderliness last? Sometimes a long time, sometimes not. “We do follow-ups with clients to see how things are going,” Combs says, “and to do some touch-ups.”  For more information on Neat Method, visit — Megan Swoyer


Even More Laundry Day Helpers

Left: Scented clothespins, $12, The Good Home Co.,

Right: Rowenta Master Valet garment steamer, $185, JCPenney and Macy’s stores.

Left: Downey Wrinkle Releaser Plus, features 101 uses, $2-$7, Target and Kroger stores.

Center: Glide-easy T-fal black Ultraglide iron, $45, Walmart stores and

Right: SportSuds laundry detergent for athletes and more, $20-$60,