If you had asked Pam Cumberland, when she was a young girl, what type of home she’d like to have some day, she likely would have replied, “One with lots of color.” The colors from Cumberland’s crayon box, which she treasured so much as a child, do indeed adorn her Bloomfield Township home today. “I’ve always loved color and art,” she says. “I think it’s because my mother exposed my siblings and me to museums, galleries, trips and travels, old cathedrals. Whether I liked what I was seeing or not, these things informed my design sense.” Another contributor to her sense of style was artist Henri Matisse (she fondly recalls a trip to see the Matisse-designed chapel in France). “I grew up with Marimekko and Andy Warhol — all bolds and brights,” she says.
When she and her husband, Glenn, and their two children moved into their current mid-century home in 1991, Cumberland says its style was “very depressing, with gray walls, gray carpeting, and a brown front door.”
The couple started thinking about renovation plans after they moved in, but “life got in the way, as it does,” Cumberland says. Formerly in the ski retail business, the Cumberlands now run a successful foot-support lab and manufacturing business in Troy that caters to everyone from weekend skiers to professional athletes.
“The one thing I did every year was paint our brick fireplace and the front door a new color,” recalls the energetic Cumberland on a recent winter’s day, sporting a turquoise Patagonia vest. “In my mind, I was living in a colorful house.”
When renovations finally began in 2007, they were based on a design that the homeowner herself had created over the years. “I had sticky notes, squares of paper, and I cut out the shape of the house,” she recalls. “I didn’t want it to just go straight back.
I wanted angles for visual interest from different points of view.” Today, wherever you are, there’s something to look at. If you look down a hallway, you see captivating artwork at the end. “I have favorite views, like from the powder room looking out to the back door, all because of the colors and art you take in.”
The Cumberlands’ renovation took place in three stages, and included adding a new garage. The former garage was transformed into what is now Cumberland’s office. (When the house was built in the 1950s, the garage was where the current family room is.) Other changes included a mudroom addition, exterior upgrades, window replacements, and kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room overhauls. A favorite contractor on the projects was Michael Matweychek of Wixom-based Apple Renovations. “Michael’s work ethic was outstanding, and we’re still friends today,” Cumberland says.
“Wherever we could widen spaces and openings, we did,” she adds. In addition, a closet became a cool bar with custom-made cabinets featuring a slide-up door, because “I didn’t want to waste space.”
In the kitchen, Ikea cabinetry shares space with a custom-made stainless steel backsplash. Here — and in all the rooms, really — one can see Cumberland’s knack for mixing and matching, for making the most of natural light and color, for her contemporary sensibilities, and for spritzing all with dashes of whimsy. Pink Philippe Starck kitchen stools at the island are as bright as an orange-red-pink tile backsplash.
Down one hall, shelves are filled with British ceramic artist Mary Rose Young’s colorful pieces. Even antiques come into play, including an old desk from the Harbour Inn, a landmark hotel in Harbor Springs that her family once owned. “It’s gone now, but I think of it every time I see this desk,” she says. A collection of antique glass doorknobs from the hotel gleam from inside a clear glass container in a hallway — another reminder of days gone by. “The glass resonated with me,” Cumberland says. “I love bright and shiny as much as I love natural and organic.”
Many splashes of color come in the way of wall paint, and visitors are often amazed at Cumberland’s cheerful paint colors and semi-gloss finishes. “I like the play of light, the brightness.” Pops of chartreuse (a favorite color of the homeowners) meld with spaces awash in orange and pink. “I’d take a swatch of cloth or piece of paper to various paint stores and ask them to mix up some paint.” Even the current purple-magenta front door color was mixed by the paint experts based on a fabric dinner napkin Cumberland took to them. Variety also adds spice when it comes to Cumberland’s art collection. “I like to mix art posters, local artists’ works, and fine art throughout the home.”
As energetic as the home is, with its riot of color and art, it also exudes a sense of peacefulness. Perhaps it’s the Buddha statues around the home that add a meditative quality, or maybe it’s the clean lines and ‘less is more’ decorative sensibility. “My style is ordered creativity, very clean. And I know what I like. I’m also influenced by merchandising. I purposely look at storefronts and interior displays; there’s inspiration everywhere.”
Then there’s the ever-present natural light, a must-have for this lover of the outdoors. “We replaced window trim throughout the house, squaring them off and updating them,” she says. Each was painted with a high-gloss paint so they have “more depth and definition.”
Much of the home’s original light-wood floors were in pretty good shape at the start of the renovations, so Cumberland matched those floors for flooring in her kitchen and family room. “We wanted one type of floor, so it flows visually. And, yes, I know that everyone’s showing dark floors now,” she says, adding, “but I need light.” And, unquestionably, color, too.
Pam and Glenn Cumberland’s home showcases art created by Michigan artists at every turn. Works from Nancy Swan Drew (nancyswandrew.com), Jeff Condon, Rick Kolb (nmam.us), and Russell and Sue Bolt (suebolt.com) all incorporate head-turning bold colors and intriguing brush strokes. One of Sue Bolt’s works is shown at left. Shiny glass pieces from Boyer Glassworks in Harbor Springs also pepper the home. To learn more about these artists, visit their websites. Another opportunity to view Michigan artists’ works is at the annual Michigan Fine Arts Competition, which typically runs from mid-May to mid-July at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, 1516 S. Cranbrook Rd., Birmingham, 248-644-0866, bbartcenter.org.