A Soft Touch

In an extroverted, over-the-top, pundit-populated world, quiet style offers such an appealing safe harbor.
A covered porch off the family room at the back of the home extends the outdoor season thanks to its sheltered location, a fireplace, and heated exposed-aggregate floor. Interior-style furnishings include Chelsea House sconces, antique garden sieves from a New York English antiques dealer displayed for wall interest, faux-wicker seating from Summer Classics, a Milling Road coffee table, and accent pillows in Dijon and gray. Angell had the pillows covered in one of his go-to fabrics, a viscose-linen blend from Romo with tape trim from Samuel & Sons.


In an extroverted, over-the-top, pundit-populated world, quiet style offers such an appealing safe harbor.

Nowhere is that more appreciated than at home, where we close the entry door behind us at the end of the day and heave a sigh of relief.

When interior designer Jimmy Angell began the task of furnishing the home of a Birmingham couple who sought a mature, welcoming — and quiet — interior, he began with fabric.

“The Lee Jofa fabric with the deer on it was a starting point — gray with two tones of taupe-gray and the apricot-mustard color,” says Angell, who has a strong affection for textiles and wallpaper.

“I really like to start with an inspired fabric. Normally, I don’t pull my paint colors until I have my fabrics.

“A lot of designers find the rug first. I find my rug last.”

The kitchen, which is at the core of the home’s open layout, had already established a neutral palette with white cabinetry and statuary marble in a blue-gray tone. Little else was complete in the home’s interior when Angell embarked on the design plan. He chose tile and fixtures at the beginning of the two-year, 5,000-square-foot project.

Angell calls the finished look “traditional with transitional elements.” Personality, the final layer, comes from art and collections, he says.

“It’s the mixture of furnishings, a found item with a new item, not having matching light fixtures,” Angell says. “Lighting can be a really creative way to go.”

That, and “incorporating an interesting collection in a display with pieces that mean something to the client.”

A flora-and-fauna pattern fabric from Lee Jofa was a starting point for the interior color palette, Angell says. He used Lee Jofa’s “Mille Fleur” fabric on Eric Cohler Design chairs in the family room and played off the gray and apricot colors throughout the home.


Residential Résumé

Jimmy Angell, principal designer and owner of James Douglas Interiors in Birmingham, was the Detroit Home Design Awards “Rising Star” in 2010.

A metro Detroit native, he began his professional life in Chicago, where he worked in arts management after receiving a degree in that discipline at Eastern Michigan University. A job at the Chicago office of the architecture, design, and planning firm of Perkins + Will steered his career in another path, and Angell returned to Detroit where he studied at Lawrence Tech and worked as an assistant at the design firm of Perlmutter-Freiwald in Franklin.

His essential advice: “Stay away from the trends.”

Other basic tips from Angell: Keep it simple. Contrast is a must. Embrace texture. Be mindful of scale. Keep a cohesive color scheme throughout the interior.

Angell says he wanted the master-bath tub to sit on a bed of stones. He used mesh-mounted flat stones from Virginia Tile. The window shades of Colfax and Fowler embroidered linen have Samuel & Sons glass-bead trim.

The traditional dining room is furnished with a Holland & Co. yew-wood sideboard. Angell had the homeowners’ existing dining chairs reupholstered in a Cowtan & Tout cut-velvet fabric with an animal-print look. The dining walls are painted in Sherwin-Williams Kilim Beige, which blends easily with the Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray on the walls in the foyer, hall, and kitchen. Floors throughout are pecan. To the right of the foyer, an intimate library space is convenient for reading and computer use. The custom library draperies are a jacquard in Pollack’s Wool Grille pattern.
MaryBeth Wilson/Cabinets by Graber designed the kitchen, which occupies the center of the main floor. The countertops and backsplash are statuary marble, which establishes a soft gray/white palette. At the New York Home Show, Angell found a vendor who would sell the counter seating “raw.” He had the counter-height chairs for the island custom finished locally in a weathered gray.

A Guy Chaddock & Co. table (left) with Century chairs welcome casual breakfasts and suppers. Visible just beyond, through a small butler’s pantry, is the formal dining room. A window seat (to right) provides sitting space on one side of the kitchen table. The embroidered seat-cushion fabric is from Threads, a division of Lee Jofa.
Restful hues are emphasized in the master bedroom. Fireside chairs, which Angell says, “I absolutely adore; they’re wide and loungy,” are covered in soft linen from Larsen. Fabric on the accent pillows is Colfax and Fowler with embellishment from Samuel & Sons. A Schumacher Lucite occasional table provides a surface that “doesn’t call attention to itself,” Angell says. Bed linens are from Cristions, Birmingham. Angell had the iron bed frame customized to be taller. A headboard and footboard upholstered in Colfax and Fowler fabric with a subtle chevron pattern provide soft contrast to the iron.

A pair of chairs in the hearth area of the kitchen are upholstered in a Schumacher fabric that’s reminiscent of animal print (left). Soft, muted fabrics make an intimate library inviting for reading. Chairs upholstered in wool plaid from Kirkby Design are accented with pillows covered in Ralph Lauren cashmere and finished with cording from Samuel & Sons Passementerie, “a fabulous storefront in New York for the trade,” designer Jimmy Angell says. The houndstooth throw is from Cristions in Birmingham (right).
A small butler’s pantry, designed by MaryBeth Wilson/Cabinets by Graber, features a handled vessel sink in white bronze from Linkasink. Below left: Angell placed a petite antique chair in the master bath.


Photographs by Justin Maconochie