Get Smart

Technology and clean lines play important roles in Ann Arbor renovation // Photography by Jeff Garland
Au naturel “My vision was to ... invite the outside in with big windows,” says Ann Arbor homeowner Carl Calfin.

When Carl Calfin purchased his 1957 Ranch-style home in Barton Hills Village in 2015, it was all about location. Private, quiet, secluded, and close to downtown Ann Arbor, the home is situated on the golf course of the exclusive Barton Hills Country Club. To an avid golfer like Calfin, the view and easy access to the golf course were paramount.

“Since there are only two houses on the golf course, I felt a responsibility to create something that blended in with the prestige of the country club,” Calfin says. “My vision was to have openness and high ceilings, and to invite the outside in with big windows, since (the house) backs up to the golf course.”

Calfin focused on enhancing the home’s landscaping before beginning major renovations in the spring of 2018, ultimately taking the house from 2,000 to 3,500 square feet.

After considering other architects, Calfin hired Brad Moore, of J. Bradley Moore & Associates Architect in Ann Arbor. The process of transforming Calfin’s vision into reality took nearly two years. “Carl loves golf, nature, and art, so we set about trying to build a home focusing on his loves,” Moore explains. “It was similar to a lake house, with the challenges of topography and working with the existing house to see the (overall picture), while creating an interior environment with windows for views and walls for his increasing art collection.”

The contractor selected for the project was Johnson Brothers Construction Ann Arbor. Owner Don Johnson served as the project manager and his son, Jake Johnson, assisted on the project.

Once the renovation began, plans were updated and became more complex, in an effort to ensure the homeowner’s evolving vision became reality. What started out as an addition developed into gutting the whole house and leaving the original shell to build upon. “There are always special challenges with custom homes, and with making a 1950s Ranch a complete, finished contemporary home,” Don Johnson says.

“The old structure, with its small, boxy rooms, was converted to an open floor plan, to fit Carl’s current lifestyle. The new portion is at a higher level than the golf course, to maximize the view,” Moore says. “I love the connected ceiling and smooth, deliberate transition — it moves seamlessly from a dynamic space overlooking the golf course to the intimate space of the kitchen.”

The focal point of the home’s renovation, and one of its major challenges, was the eye-catching, custom fireplace in the great room. Explains Don Johnson: “The fireplace is gas, open flame, and linear — it was fabricated like a car or motorcycle, and took about 15 versions over three and a half months to get everything just right.” Another stunning feature of the great room is the wine wall, which became a functional yet artistic way to display the homeowner’s wine collection.

According to Jake Johnson, smart house technology and an incredible sound system were also important to the homeowner. “Everything inside of the home is controlled by Siri — the lights, fireplaces, Sonos (sound system) — everything. The sound system speakers in the great room are painted the same color as the ceiling, and appear invisible. When music is playing, the sound basically rains down on you.”

Other smart features in the home include the security and temperature control systems, a hidden TV in the master bedroom ceiling, and the bathtub and shower system, which allows the homeowner to start drawing a bath from his phone before he gets home.

Interior designer Anna Owen, of Anna Owen Interiors in Ann Arbor, notes: “The smart features weren’t challenging from a design perspective, but it was mindful design — something I had to have awareness of, especially in the spa-like bathrooms. (I had to really think about things like) the placement of switches, control panels, and the fact that, in the master bathroom, the tub fills from the ceiling.”

When it came to the home’s interior design, Owen says she had to stay flexible and incorporate the homeowner’s own furniture selections. “Carl’s style is very modern. We had to transition the existing home into something clean, sleek, and modern, with some modern-rustic elements. The focus was on clean, simple design and a neutral palette with colorful pops from the artwork, to al-low the artwork to speak for itself.”

The homeowner focused on enhancing the home’s landscaping before beginning major renovations.

According to Owen, the lighting was key in making all the special features such as the flooring, wine wall, and wood elements stand out. “Wood tone is everywhere in the home, and it had to be right. All the wood elements came together so cohesively, which was the result of all the trades involved working together for a common goal,” she says.

Creating a comfortable outdoor space with a modern vibe was also important to the homeowner for entertaining, relaxing, and, of course, taking in the view.

“My house has exceeded my vision and is the perfect example of needing a team. It’s the most relaxing house I’ve ever been in. It’s a haven. The calm and welcoming nature of the house embraces you,” Calfin says. “The dream in my head has manifested into reality. I am humbled by it and full of gratitude.”


Johnson Brothers Construction, Ann Arbor,

Cabinet – Custom, Young Cabinetry, Saline
Faucets – Kohler
Flooring – Limestone, Virginia Tile, Farmington Hills
Lighting, Cabinet and Shelf – Young Cabinetry, Saline
Lighting, Sconce – RH
Mirror – Custom
Shower – Limestone, Virginia Tile, Farmington Hills
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Rodeo

Flooring – White Oak, Custom Stain
Bed Frame – RH
Chests, Bedside – RH
Rug – The Artisan’s Bench, Brighton
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Rodeo

Cabinets – Young Cabinetry, Saline
Chairs, Dining – RH
Pendant, Table – RH
Rug – The Artisan’s Bench, Brighton
Shelves, Floating – Young Cabinetry, Saline
Table, Dining – Baker Furniture, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Cabinets – Young Cabinetry, Saline
Flooring – White Oak, Custom Stain
Lighting, Island – RH
Refrigerator – Thermador
Stove – Thermador
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Silver Satin

Armchairs – RH
Chandelier – RH
Fireplace – Custom, Anna Owen Interiors, Ann Arbor; Fabrication, Latvala Brothers, Ypsilanti
Flooring – White Oak, Custom Stain
Table, Glass End – RH
Table, Wooden Display – RH

Armchairs – RH
Chandelier – RH
Flooring – White Oak, Custom Stain
Rug – The Artisan’s Bench, Brighton
Table, End – RH
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Rodeo

Armchair – RH
Fireplace – Custom, Johnson Brothers Construction, Ann Arbor
Flooring – White Oak, Custom Stain
Rug – The Artisan’s Bench, Brighton
Sofa, Gray – Living Modes, Ferndale
Table, Occasional – RH
Table, Wooden Coffee – RH
Tables, End – RH
Tables, Portable – RH
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Silver Satin
Wine Storage – Custom, Anna Owen Interiors, Ann Arbor; Fabrication, Brian Lewis

Cabinet and Bench – Custom
Flooring – Fiandre-French Clay, Dwyer Marble and Stone Supply, Farmington Hills
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Rodeo

Cabinet and Shelves, Storage – Custom
Chair, Desk – Cedrick Desk Chair, Hooker Furniture
Desk – Curate Desk, Hooker Furniture
Flooring – White Oak, Custom Stain
Rug – The Artisan’s Bench, Brighton

Building Materials – Cedar Siding
Furniture – RH
Manufacturer – Mans Lumber and Millwork, Canton
Masonry – Wilkerson Building & Masonry, Grass Lake
Paint – Benjamin Moore, Amber Slate
Windows – Andersen Windows

Architect – J. Bradley Moore & Associates Architects Inc., Ann Arbor
Audio/Visual – Just Press Play, Livonia
Countertops – Wolverine Stone Co., Warren
Electrician – Lee Electric, Livonia
Excavation – Wolverine State Concrete, Dundee
Framer – J.F. Binder Custom Framing, Ann Arbor
Glass Walls and Showers – Wolverine Moore Glass, Dexter
Hardwood Floors – County Line Floors, Chelsea
Heating and Cooling  – CMR Mechanical, Dexter
Interior Designer – Anna Owen Interiors, Ann Arbor
Painting – Bordier Painting, Ypsilanti
Plumbing  – GF Wilbur Plumbing, Ypsilanti
Stair Fabricator – Latvala Brothers, Ypsilanti
Trim and Stair Rail System Installer – D&D Trim Works, Chelsea