Todd’s Rooms

Todd Skog and Ronnie Hormel sit with Tweezer, their apricot poodle, in the dining room of their 1929 Royal Oak home. The settee, originally from designer Ron Rea, came to Skog from a client who was redoing her house. Skog says he was inspired to get the chandelier, with its long dangling pieces, by a scene in the 2006 movie Running With Scissors. “You don’t know where you’ll get inspiration,” Skog says. The large-format photograph is by Lisa Spindler. // Photograph by Roy Ritchie

What drew you to this house?

I liked that it was cedar shake. And I loved how tall it is. The third level is my office and studio.

Was it already black, or did you paint it?

When I got the house, it was Middle American taupe and forest green, and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’ When it was being painted, the neighbors just kept going by and saying, ‘Is that black?’ I thought it might look Gothic, but it has a quiet elegance. In a way, white is more bold than black; light colors come forward.

Did you work with an interior designer?

It’s all me, other than the kitchen.

When did you begin collecting?

I’ve always collected things, since I was young. Shells and rocks and feathers. And I love art. Everything is interesting to me, whether it’s interesting in design or nature.

You mentioned that you’ve been influenced by two books in particular.

Paris Interiors shows all these apartments and chateaux and homes and how the French look at their lives entirely different than Americans. And Kelly Wearstler’s Domicilium Decoratus. She likes collecting, and her home in California is not a clean-slate house with one unique piece on a pedestal. She incorporates her collecting.

What do people typically say when they walk into your house for the first time?

When my housekeeper came in, she said, ‘I’m going to have to charge you extra.’

You could supply a flea-market booth.

I really, really like all my oddities. I love different combinations of color and texture. I can’t turn off that part of me. I appreciate people who can pare things down. But I can’t live that way.

You’ve got quite a few religious objects.

I love any sort of religion. I love finding out more about them. I’ve been collecting those since I was young, and it has grown and grown. Certainly, I’ve edited it. I’m not a big fan of organized religion, but I’m a spiritual person. I was raised Baptist. I totally respect anyone who practices their religion.

As a business owner, you spend so much time working. Where and when do you collect?

On rare occasions, when I have a free Sunday, I go to flea markets. Ebay is great, but you don’t get that tactile experience. Anywhere I travel, I try to visit a flea market or antiques store. And when I travel outside the U.S., my goal is to bring back a piece of art.

Ronnie leaves the interior design mostly to you. How is he reflected in the décor?

He’s a minimalist and for him to be in this environment is a challenge for him. He likes that pedestal with one piece on it. Ronnie really puts up with all my collecting. And while he would love a simpler environment, he lets me be creative. Why would he want to change who I am?

How did you get the idea for sparkles on the dining-room ceiling?

When I saw Deborah Silver putting moss on her ceiling, that got me thinking. I like a dining room that feels like candlelight. I like it to be romantic and sparkly. You want guests to feel comfortable.

Your house feels a little New Orleans eccentric.

It’s a small house with small rooms, which you can’t change. So why not do interesting small rooms? Going back to Paris Interiors, those are small apartments and that didn’t hold them back.

A lot of interior designers can recall being décor-oriented as a child. Were you that way?

I remember our house always changing when I was a kid. In one house, my mom did all black and white and mirrors. In another, there was orange shag carpet and a mural on the wall. We were always in a new place, mostly Downriver, and, with five kids, I was always sharing a room and guarding my things.

My grandfather worked for Ford International, and he traveled the world opening Ford plants, so they had stuff collected from all over: grandfather clocks from Argentina and stuffed monkeys from Brazil. My grandmother was a war bride from England, and I remember her teacups. Her house fascinated me. It wasn’t what other kids had. That must have influenced me.

You have strong opinions about décor. Can you envision changing from beauty to interior design?

I don’t like white moldings, that Martha Stewart trim. When I was new in the field [of beauty], I had those white-molding moments [about makeup]. But I’ve been working around women for 20 years now, and if a woman wears blue eye shadow and she looks in the mirror and she feels pretty, then that blue eye shadow is all right by me. There are all sorts of beauty. I have very strong opinions about interiors. But I couldn’t do it for other people. Makeup you can wash off, but interiors, that’s for a while.