California Dreamin’

West Coast transplants lighten up a 1940s Birmingham Colonial.
Because the family spends a lot of time in the kitchen, designer Margaret Skinner made it the heart of the home. Navy blue accents were used in the scullery and island, while walnut touches add warmth to the food pantry cabinet, range shelves, and banding on the hood.
HEART & SOUL – Because the family spends a lot of time in the kitchen, designer Margaret Skinner made it the heart of the home. Navy blue accents were used in the scullery and island, while walnut touches add warmth to the food pantry cabinet, range shelves, and banding on the hood. – Photography by Beth Singer

“A lighter, more relaxed style” is what Dave and Jennifer Jennings had in mind when they contacted interior designer Margaret Skinner, of Margeaux Interiors, about renovating their four-bedroom, five-bath Birmingham Colonial, built in 1940. Originally from California, the couple dreamed of a brighter and more easygoing style in the 3,400-square-foot home they share with their three children.

The living room is the perfect spot for a bar cart.
The living room is the perfect spot for a bar cart. – Photography by Beth Singer

There was definitely room for improvement. Previous owners had remodeled and expanded in 2004, adding square footage on the home’s upper levels as well as in its basement. Upgrades included a more open kitchen connected to the family room, a large mud room and bathroom off the garage, and a master bedroom with vaulted ceilings, a bath, and a walk-in closet above the kitchen.

The living room is welcoming with its comfy bench, bright art, and high-quality Ghiordes Knot rug.
YOU GOTTA HAVE ART – The living room is welcoming with its comfy bench, bright art, and high-quality Ghiordes Knot rug. – Photography by Beth Singer

Unfortunately, the addition’s style just wasn’t what the couple wanted when they purchased the property in 2014. The family spends a lot of time in the kitchen, and they wanted it to be the heart of their home. “The previous kitchen was very ornate and felt heavy and dark,” Jennifer says.

Jason Wilson artwork is a nice backdrop for the breakfast nook’s Hubbardton Forge chandelier.
Jason Wilson artwork is a nice backdrop for the breakfast nook’s Hubbardton Forge chandelier. – Photography by Beth Singer

The Jennings had already begun working with John Morgan, of Perspectives Cabinetry, on the kitchen and mud room redesign. Morgan recommended they contact Skinner, which they did in the fall of 2019. Their goal was to keep the best of the past but bring it into the present. “We wanted to make sure to not deviate from the traditional, but we wanted an updated look,” Jennifer explains.

The living room is a nod to the home’s classic roots, but is much fresher with updated elements.
TRADITIONAL TOUCH – The living room is a nod to the home’s classic roots, but is much fresher with updated elements. – Photography by Beth Singer

Skinner and the Jennings quickly hit it off. “We had a few initial conversations and (Margaret) asked a ton of questions,” Jennifer says. “We trusted her immediately. She seemed to really understand our style and what would look nice in the space.”

Skinner agreed that the 2004 addition didn’t quite live up to its potential. It “felt very compartmentalized, and didn’t utilize the floor plan efficiently,” she remembers. “A more open feel that would be conducive to family gatherings and entertaining” was what the homeowners had in mind, in addition to something that functioned better for everyday living.

Hudson Valley sconces and a Caesarstone countertop in Pure White make this bathroom truly elegant.
Hudson Valley sconces and a Caesarstone countertop in Pure White make this bathroom truly elegant. – Photography by Beth Singer

The plan included taking the kitchen, powder room, guest bath, and mudroom down to the studs, as well as refreshing the existing living and dining room, family room, and home office. Other changes included rethinking existing spaces and fixing floor plans and traffic patterns, and creating a new mud room and a combination office/first floor guest room and bath for out-of-state family members.

Another angle of the most popular room in the house. A cabinet with a butcher block top, designed for entertaining, was added to the end of the island.
PRACTICAL GLAM – Another angle of the most popular room in the house. A cabinet with a butcher block top, designed for entertaining, was added to the end of the island. – Photography by Beth Singer

The new kitchen shows the most dramatic improvements. “It’s all about the details,” Skinner says of the space. Navy blue accents were used in the scullery and island, while walnut touches add warmth to the food pantry cabinet, range shelves, and banding on the hood. Opting for shelves instead of upper cabinets on the range wall opened the space. A cabinet with a butcher block top, designed for entertaining, was added to the end of the island and is now the perfect place for holding bottles of wine and a charcuterie board.

The mud room was taken down to the studs and now boasts lots of organized storage space and a handy bench.
The mud room was taken down to the studs and now boasts lots of organized storage space and a handy bench. – Photography by Beth Singer

A spacious banquette satisfies Jennifer’s request for more seating, comfortably accommodating six to eight people and tying visually into the dish pantry and refrigerator, Skinner says. An underutilized walk-in pantry became the new scullery, incorporating a beverage refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker.

The powder room has plenty of pretty appointments, from the Iron Ore (Sherwin-Williams) ceiling paint to the Hudson Valley light above the KubeBath sink. A Phillip Jeffries wallcovering is the icing on the cake.
MIX MASTER – The powder room has plenty of pretty appointments, from the Iron Ore (Sherwin-Williams) ceiling paint to the Hudson Valley light above the KubeBath sink. A Phillip Jeffries wall-covering is the icing on the cake. – Photography by Beth Singer

The former kitchen table moved to the redesigned living room and is now a favorite place for playing board games. “Previously, the formal dining room and living room were rarely used,” the designer explains. “The new placement of furniture, and new fabrics and accessories, allows this space to be part of the kitchen and not feel closed-off. What was the walk-by room is now the gather-and-relax room.”

Skinner “encouraged us to take risks I may not have taken on my own,” Jennifer shares, adding, “those are now my favorite parts.” Unfortunately, the pandemic hit mid-renovation, causing a significant delay, but “the Jennings family rolled with the punches,” Skinner says.

Another mud room view, this time showcasing a vanity area and even more storage.
ORGANIZED LIVING – Another mud room view, this time showcasing a vanity area and even more storage. – Photography by Beth Singer

It was worth the wait, Jennifer says, adding that the renovated home is now everything she and her husband knew it could be. They spend the most time in the kitchen/family room, with “lots of lively conversations around the large island.” Jennifer says entertaining is now “much easier and enjoyable … the walk-in pantry was opened up, giving us a second prep area, sink, mini-fridge, and a place for overflow food presentation.”

Other than wishing they had been able to add a three-car garage, Jennifer admits to only one renovation regret: “We should have done it sooner,” she says.


BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGNER
Margaret Skinner, Margeaux Interiors, Birmingham, margeauxinteriors.com

BATHROOM
Artwork – John Azoni
Cabinet – James Martin Vanities
Cabinetry – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Countertop – Caesarstone, Pure White
Flooring – Vallelunga, Virginia Tile, Troy
Mirrors – CB2
Sconces – Hudson Valley, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Tile, Shower – Vallelunga, Virginia Tile, Troy
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Crushed Ice

BREAKFAST NOOK
Artwork – Jason Wilson
Chairs, Dining – Calligaris
Chandelier – Hubbardton Forge, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Pillows, Accent – Kirby and Romo, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Crushed Ice
Window Seat (Fabric) – Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Window Seat and Drapery, Fabrication – Gayle’s Drapery, Macomb
Window Treatment – Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy

KITCHEN
Backsplash – Terra Bella Marble, Virginia Tile, Troy
Bench – Phillip Jeffries, Tennant
Cabinetry – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Countertop – Enigma Quartz, Dwyer Marble & Stone Supply, Farmington Hills; Fabrication, PMP Marble & Granite, Troy
Faucet – Brizo, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Hood – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Lights, Bar – Hubbardton Forge, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Pantry, Wooden – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Shelves, Floating – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Stove – Wolf, Specialties Showroom, Berkley
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Crushed Ice, Troy

LIVING ROOM
Bar Cart – Caracole
Bench, Upholstered – Bernhardt, Fabric, Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Buffet – Ethan Allen
Drapery (Fabric) – Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamps – Regina Andrew Detroit, Wyandotte
Pillow, Accent (Fabric) – Kravet, Pindler, Romo, Kravet, Pindler, Tennant & Associates; Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sofa – Knoll
Table, Coffee – Ethan Allen
Table and Chairs, Dining – Bernhardt, RJ Thomas, Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Occasional – CB2
Tables, End – Ethan Allen
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Crushed Ice

MUD ROOM
Bench, Backsplash – Phillip Jeffries, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bench, Built-In – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy

POWDER ROOM
Artwork – Crate & Barrel
Ceiling Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Iron Ore
Light – Hudson Valley, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Mirror – CB2
Sink – KubeBath
Wallcovering – Phillip Jeffries, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS
Art Installation – Robert Bitterburg Sr., Clarkston
Contractor – Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy
Drapery Fabrication – Gayle’s Drapery, Macomb
Electrician – Eric Conn, Livonia
Tile Installation – Dean Skewes, Quality Tile Inc., Troy
Wallpaper Installation – Ken Spurgeon Custom Painting, Holly



Facebook Comments