These experts say curves, angles, ambiance, acoustics, and lighting are all key when it comes to creating the perfect space for a piano.
CRAIG STEINHAUS & ASSOCIATES
WHO: Craig Steinhaus trained as an architect at Lawrence Technological University, and in 2004, after nearly 20 years as a partner at Perlmutter-Freiwald in Franklin, he established a Birmingham-based design firm. Over his 30-year career, he has designed interiors for everything from private homes and executive offices to custom yachts and personal jets. Steinhaus attributes his background in architecture as being critical to achieving his design success.
INFO: 248-593-2635, ctsteinhaus.com
A HARMONIOUS MUSIC ROOM: The space shown above, in the Trott family’s Birmingham home, hosted the children’s music lessons, daily practice, and impromptu recitals for grandparents and other family members. As the kids grew older, designer Craig Steinhaus transformed the home’s space from a medley of yellows, pinks, greens, and blues to a more neutral rendition that would “support the design language of the homeowners’ 20th century modern art, without denying the neoclassical architecture essential to the house itself,” Steinhaus says. Note the lighting, says the designer. “I prefer a pair of lamps, instead of the more ordinary single center light. This provides ample light for the musician’s use, while adding more attractive lighting to the room’s overall ambiance.”
“Position a grand piano so that its curved side faces out into the room’s furniture grouping; this enables one to view the beautiful instrument, and the lid projects the sound out, creating better acoustics.” — Craig Steinhaus
ASIAN ACCENT: Thomas Pheasant Collection Ming vase, Baker, $1,061, Baker Showroom, Michigan Design Center, Troy, michigandesign.com.
19th CENTURY REPRO: Stately Homes Collection Regency chair, Baker, shown in room photo, starts at $4,305, Baker Showroom, Michigan Design Center.
BE SEATED: Sherrill sofa, similar to one in photo below, RJ Thomas Showroom, Michigan Design Center.
UNDERFOOT: Howard Slatkin linen Soumak, shown in room, $2,995, Stark Carpet, Troy, starkcarpet.com. “It’s a playful take on the classic Greek key theme,” Steinhaus says.
MAHA JANO INTERIORS
WHO: Maha Jano received her B.A. and master’s degree in interior design from Wayne State University in Detroit. Based at the Michigan Design Center, Jano has been in business for 22 years, enjoying both residential and commercial projects — ranging from traditional to contemporary designs — around the globe: Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Florida, Minnesota, California, Chicago, and New York, as well as metro Detroit.
INFO: 248-816-8044, mahajanointeriors.com
GRAND ENTRANCE: “During the construction and planning stages, we decided to place the piano in the foyer,” designer Maha Jano recalls of this home, shown above, located in Bloomfield Hills. “The space was 2 feet smaller than what we needed, so we had to alter it to accommodate the piano. I didn’t want the piano to be tucked in a room where people have to go to a certain spot to play, but instead (I wanted) to create a romance for everyone walking in — to encourage them to touch it and play it, even if it’s just a few notes, so the music resonates in the house.” She also wanted the children of the home to feel important as they were practicing their music lessons. “Whoever is in the house would be able to hear them,” she says.
“A piano should be a focal point, and needs to confirm its presence.” – Maha Jano>
YOUNG AND YOUNG ARCHITECTS
WHO: Don Paul Young studied engineering at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana Campus as part of the GI Bill for WWII veterans, after serving in the European theater. His cousin handed him Frank Lloyd Wright’s autobiography and that was it — he decided to change direction and pursue architecture. Young studied fine arts at the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts (Now CCS) and Architecture at Lawrence Institute of Technology. He began his practice in 1958 in the former Fox & Hounds, and is currently the principal architect of Young & Young Architects in Bloomfield Hills. In the past 60 years, Young has received numerous honors, including multiple Detroit Home Design Awards. Over his vast career, Young has mentored dozens of architects and has reached emeritus status with the American Institute of Architects. He lives with his wife, June, in Bloomfield Hills, in a home he designed in the 1950s.
INFO: 248-646-4900, yyarchitects.com
TO SCALE: “The house (shown above, in Bloomfield Hills on Island Lake), which was originally built in 1969, underwent an extensive renovation that included minor additions,” says architect Don Paul Young, who designed both the original home and the renovation. The update included a perfect spot for the family’s piano; whoever’s playing it can look out to the great outdoors. “We created a floor plan around a spatial relationship with the outdoors. The bluestone floors extend outward from the interiors seamlessly. The plate glass is set in the floor stone and the ceiling plane, too, so it’s an uninterrupted view. Notice the ‘Butt Glazed’ corners … no posts!”
Architect’s Tip: “Consider the changing qualities of light throughout the day and evening, and be aware of the placement of furnishings, so as not to obstruct the glass corners.” Window treatments, too, are paramount. “Dropping the shades creates an intimate mood.”
IT’S PERSONAL DESIGN
WHO: Ann-Marie Anton received a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Michigan State University in the late 1980s. While in new-home construction for more than 15 years, Anton discovered her passion in home design. Her Grosse Pointe Farms-based It’s Personal Design, LLC. was born in 2006 and has completed projects throughout metro Detroit, Florida, and California. In 2014, the designer was honored with a first place Detroit Home Design Award for Traditional Master Bedroom. In addition, she won a Michigan Design Center overall “people’s favorite” for a table setting vignette.
INFO: 586-764-1780, itspersonalonline.net
IN TUNE: “We wanted the space to have a playful spirit about it,” designer Ann-Marie Anton recalls of the room shown above and below. “Picking up the black tones from the piano, we had custom cabinetry, crown moulding, and three kite-shaped mirrors all done in black for added drama. The playful black-and-white fabric on the chairs was the inspiration for the rest of the room design. We used a more traditional carpeting, with blue and green in it, to create flow with the rest of the home.”
Designer’s Tips: “If a piano is in a room with all hard surfaces, it can sound too strong and loud. Use rugs, upholstered furniture, and window treatments to soften the sound. Also, do not put your piano in an environment that has extremes in temperature or humidity; that will affect the tone and finish of the piano over time.” As for lighting, “Consider task lighting. Although we used a chandelier over the piano, there’s a piano light that normally sits on the piano for daily use. The homeowner did not want glare from an overhead light.”
Bringing Home Baby (Grand)
At the keyboard with Jim Evola of Evola Music
Jim Evola, the third-generation family owner of Evola Music, founded by his grandfather in 1931, runs piano stores in Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Shelby Township, and Traverse City. Here, he shares some piano insights and shopping tips for finding just the right piano.
FAVORITE PIANO INSTALLATION: The Estonia grand piano at Somerset Collection in Troy. “This is the only 9-foot concert grand piano I am aware of in satin walnut. To build a piano of this size in walnut is unheard-of.” The hardware was brushed satin chrome by an automobile restorer in Waterford to match the chrome chairs in the lobby. Evola installed a system in the piano so it could play CDs.
GRAND PRIZED: It’s no surprise that Evola, of Bloomfield Township, has owned a few pianos in his time. He’s currently in the process of upgrading to a Shigeru Kawai grand.
GRANDDADDY OF THEM ALL: Although a new grand is certainly special, the most special of them all, according to Evola, is the Bosendorfer, which is handmade in Vienna, Austria.
GRAND SHOPPING LOWDOWN: The highest percentage of grand piano buyers are families who are learning to play, Evola says. “Many people begin their musical journey practicing on a keyboard and quickly learn they need to graduate to a traditional piano if they want to succeed.” As for key considerations, Evola says a good piano can last through a few generations. “I recommend potential piano owners view their purchase as an ‘educational heirloom.’ ” Also, he says to select an instrument that sounds and looks good to you. And, of course, be sure the brand — and retailer — has a long-term reputation for quality and serviceability.