Hearth & Soul

Romance in the home often centers around a great fireplace; these designers know a thing or two about creating warmth

FURNISHINGS | inspired designers

Room Photo by John Carlson Photography

WHO: The principal designer and creative director at Northville-based Tutto Interiors, Cheryl Nestro, right, has been an industry leader for more than 15 years. Nestro built her business on creativity, sound judgment, unsurpassed attention to detail, and establishing trusting relationships. Tutto Interiors specializes in custom residential homes and approaches every project both holistically and individually, to give each home its unique appeal. The design firm has received more than 50 design awards through the years, setting the standard for luxury homes.

Cheryl Nestro // Portrait by John Carlson Photography

DESIGNER’S GOAL: Nestro’s priority when designing the family room, above, of this Bloomfield Hills home, located along the perimeter of Oakland Hills Country Club, was to balance the overall aesthetics and homeowner Tony Dimenna’s prominent 90-inch television. “It was a struggle to convince him it was too large for the main level,” Nestro says. “My goal was to make the TV blend into the space without it looking like a big eyesore.” With that in mind, the designer selected Ann Sacks walnut woven wood material in a brown driftwood finish, pulling the emphasis away from the TV. “The unique weave of the walnut fireplace provides a warm and inviting atmosphere in our great room,” homeowner Joann Dimenna says. “It has become a conversation piece when we entertain.” Nestro furnished the space in gray, white, and cream tones, and provided layers of lighting with a stunning Currey & Co. chandelier, table lamps, and recessed lighting, giving the overall design a luxurious yet comfortable effect.

INFORMATION: 248-348-8886, tuttointeriors.com

“Be sure to use a color palette that’s pleasing to you and not whatever the trend is at the moment. The space will always speak to you.”
— Cheryl Nestro


  • The style of the fireplace, be it modern or traditional, dictates the design of the room.
  • When purchasing your fireplace, consider more than the price and style. There are so many components that go into the overall design of a fireplace, especially when you place a television above it.
  • The proportion of the fireplace and the selection of materials surrounding the hearth is critical in the planning stages. If you start the design process with incorrect proportions, it throws off the rest of the room.
  • Think through every decision, don’t rush the process, and don’t purchase things just to fill a space. Wait until you can do it right the first time.
  • Trust your professional team. Too many opinions make for confusion in the
    design process.

A. Hickory Chair East Paces side table, to the trade
B. Pollack Fabrics smitten, to the trade
C. Studio│A Home feather hurricane in bronze, size large, to the trade
D. Benjamin Moore Himalayan Trek, benjaminmoore.com
E. Currey & Co. Stratosphere chandelier, to the trade
F. Charles Stewart Boreal chair, to the trade

Room Photo by Beth Singer

WHO: Principal designer Jennifer Taylor, below, of Royal Oak-based Jennifer Taylor Studio, has devoted more than 20 years to creating custom interiors that are fresh yet classic, and custom-tailored to the exact specifications of her clients’ lifestyles. Taylor attributes her sharpened spatial acumen and sense of proportion to her education at Wayne State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in interior design. The designer’s strengths are her intuitive color sense and the ability to combine design materials in unexpected but subtle ways. She finds nothing more rewarding than bringing her designs to life for the enjoyment of her clients.

Jennifer Taylor

DESIGNER’S GOAL: Taylor wanted the formal living room, right, of this Northville home to reflect the majesty of the space. “This room is the first room you see when you enter the beautiful grand foyer of the home,” the designer says. “It has a soaring ceiling, so the fireplace — which is central — had to be a show-stopper.” Taylor worked with her client to create a stunning custom mantel from Francois & Co. that acts as a focal point. “The overall effect of the design is understated because contrast has been kept to a minimum, but details abound in this space,” the designer says. “Our living room is one of our favorite rooms,” homeowner Laurie Lyall adds. “The neutral palette and custom stone fireplace allow it to be elegant, yet still warm and inviting.”

INFORMATION: 248-582-9450, jennifertaylorstudio.com

“It’s your house, not a museum.”
— Jennifer Taylor


  • The size of the room is very important to the design and will dictate the scale of the hearth. You can have a fabulous fireplace, but if the scale is off, it can ruin a great design. It should fit seamlessly. 
  • High-reaching rooms such as this one require equally tall furniture pieces or architectural features that complement the size of the space. Furniture arrangements with flat artwork hung above them, leaving large expanses of blank drywall, won’t carry a room like this.
  • Ceilings are important and are often a forgotten feature. Sizable rooms, especially large ones with grand ceilings, need to be addressed. This can be accomplished with embellishments and lighting fixtures.
  • Although this space included high ceilings, the footprint isn’t that large. Carefully design the furniture floor plan with a balance of furnishings. You don’t want to overdo it.   
  • Be judicious about where you add detail. Select a generous area rug when the room is tall. In this case, the rug visually expands the width of the space. 
  • Select awesome lighting and accessories. I believe they’re half of the “wow” factor in any room.
  • Search for unusual items, or create new things out of beautiful found objects.
    We created andirons from antique metal we found in Atlanta. This is what lends personality to a space.

A. Lapchi Palampore hand-knotted wool/silk rug, Moonstone, to the trade, Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy
B. Vervain Sorano ash fabric, to the trade
C. Hickory Chair, Eton, to the trade
D. Francois & Co. Massalia mantel, to the trade
E. Cedar Key, Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com
F. Marge Carson Rue Royale bunching table, to the trade