When Alexis Elley, owner of Textures Design, was hired to design the family room and foyer in a Grosse Pointe Farms home during the summer of 2020, the new homeowners — who had bought the home sight-unseen — were still living in Chicago.
“My husband grew up in Grosse Pointe Farms and received a promotion in the Detroit area. When we toured the home on FaceTime, we had already lost out on four homes,” the wife explains. “The home was built in the early ’70s and it was outdated. I had a hard time visualizing how we were going to make this work; it felt very formal and I wanted comfortable, functional, and stylish.”
The Grosse Pointe Farms-based designer adds: “This is a young, growing family. They love an Aspen aesthetic, as the wife’s family has a home there. This was a super traditional home and the new owners don’t have super traditional tastes. It was important to update the home and bring light and warmth in.”
Elley says there was already textured wallpaper in both the family room (deep-blue) and foyer (yellow) and that remained, although the team decided to paint the yellow paper white.
The blue walls in the family room popped against freshly painted white trim, shelving, and a bar area, which received new lighting beneath the shelves. The fireplace was updated, wood floors were installed, and the ceiling beams were wrapped with reclaimed white oak to provide depth and character. “We wanted a cozy, comfortable, rustic look,” the homeowner says. “The blue patterned rug helps tie it all together.”
Elley used natural elements such as leather furniture and lamps, cowhide pillows, and accessories including a jute deer head to add texture, interest, and warmth to the room.
Part of the transformation involved opening the space by removing a wall between the kitchen and family room, enabling the homeowners to see their young children from the kitchen. This also lets light into both rooms.
The foyer had a stately crystal chandelier, which was kept to serve as a focal point in the space, but the overall feeling after the redesign is updated and polished. “We were able to blend modern, traditional, and contemporary styling with paint, abstract art, and neutral drapery,” Elley says.
“At first, I couldn’t see that it could be different and that we could make it our own,” the homeowner says. “Thankfully, Alexis, the Realtor, and my husband could see it. It’s so bright and welcoming now.”
Form & Function
Interior designer Alexis Elley says she was delighted to work on a home design project for Jeff and Katie Marano, who relocated from Chicago to Grosse Pointe Farms with their young family in February 2020. Katie grew up in Grosse Pointe, and she and her husband moved back to Michigan to be closer to family.
The couple purchased a brick Colonial that was built in 1949 and had a large family room added in 1994. “The house was dated and clearly someone else’s aesthetic, so we had to look past those things,” Jeff says. “We fell in love with the family room. We knew we wanted the house updated to modern times, while keeping the historic 1949 details intact.”
Elley focused on the family room and living room for this part of the homeowner’s multi-phase home renovation plan. The couple now refers to the living room as the “form,” and they call the family room the “function.”
“In the family room, we chose a gray sectional made with performance fabric and a leather ottoman. The homeowners also wanted touches of blue,” Elley says. “The rug is a custom-sized wool rug that was added because it was important to lighten up the space and bring the outside in with natural elements.”
The existing built-in shelves, which were dark, were painted white and the fireplace was updated. As Jeff explains, the couple wanted something “pretty” above the fireplace, but they also wanted a TV. He and his wife settled on a Samsung The Frame TV, which can display artwork when the TV isn’t on. To further personalize the space, a wagon wheel chandelier anchors the room, giving a nod to the ski lodge vibe Jeff likes. Books about the couple’s interests — including skiing, wine, and Chicago — are prominently displayed.
Says Katie: “I love the room now; it’s clean, crisp, bright, and family-friendly. There are built-ins to store the kids’ toys and I can see them playing from the kitchen. The room opens to the backyard, so the view is green and lush in the summer, and beautiful in the winter when we can watch the snow fall.”
The living room is the first room seen upon entering the home. “It’s a very stylish, elegant grown-up room with soft neutrals and pops of blue,” the designer says. “The drapery is velvet, and brass elements were used to add warmth. The white sofa and gray velvet chairs are upholstered using performance fabrics that are kid- and pet-friendly.”
“We love to entertain family and friends, and we’re still making the house our own. The work Alexis has done so far is everything we dreamed of — it’s pretty, but works for everyday life,” Katie shares.
Alexis Elley, Textures Design, Grosse Pointe Farms, texturesinteriordesign.com
HOME 1 – FAMILY ROOM
Artwork – ”Aspen Lone Skier,” Gray Malin
Artwork – The Frame TV, Samsung
Chair, Occasional – Oly Studio
Hardware, Mini-Bar – Etsy
Lamps, Floor – Rejuvenation
Pillows, Accent – Wesley Hall, C.A.I. Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – STARK Carpet, Troy
Sculpture (Deer) – Pottery Barn
Sofa – Wesley Hall, C.A.I Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Coffee – Article
Table, Tree Stump – Amazon
Tables, End – Anthropologie
Wall Treatment – Thibaut, Rozmallin, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Accessories, Gold, on Chest – Bungalow 5
Bench – Four Hands
Chest – RH
Drapery – Schumacher
Mirror – Kravet
Pillows – Scalamandre
Table, Console – Frontgate
HOME 2 – FAMILY ROOM
Armchair – Bernhardt Furniture, C.A.I. Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Candleholder (Flower) – Jan Barboglio
Chandelier – Wagon Wheel Chandelier, Laurel Foundry Modern Farmhouse
Fireplace – Black Slate
Lamps – Target
Pillows, Accent – Bernhardt Furniture, C.A.I. Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Fabrica, Crowther Carpet & Rugs, Grosse Pointe Woods
Sofa – Bernhardt Furniture
Table, Cement End – Target
Table, Coffee – Four Hands
Table, Display – Four Hands
Table, Wooden Occasional – Target
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace
Artwork – Perigold
Drapery – Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamps – Ballard Designs
Lamps, Floor – OKA
Pillows, Accent – Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Eastern Rugs
Sculpture (Bird) – Bungalow 5
Sofa – LEE Industries, C.A.I Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Coffee – Woodbridge Furniture, C.A.I. Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy