Good Judgment

Retiring judge’s Plymouth condo takes a three-decade leap into contemporary coolness. Photography by Jeff Garland.
 An inviting living room with classic appeal provides the homeowner with a cozy spot for entertaining.
HOUSE OF BLUES An inviting living room with classic appeal provides the homeowner with a cozy spot for entertaining.

When Michael Talbot was approaching retirement from his position as chief judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals and Court of Claims, he looked around his condo near downtown Plymouth and decided his digs needed a change, too. While the condo is in a wonderful neighborhood and Talbot can walk everywhere, the interior needed work.

“I thought, I’ve got to freshen it up,” he recalls. “It was kind of stale, if you know what I mean.”

He contacted interior designer Kathleen McGovern at her eponymous Grosse Pointe Park studio and asked if she would come and take a look. “I didn’t know where to turn,” Talbot says, “but I knew her work and thought highly of it.” He also knew that he wanted something modern yet classic as he entered the next chapter of his life.

As they toured his 1,600-square-foot condo, built in the late 1970s, deciding what would stay and what had to go, Talbot remembers telling McGovern he liked this or that furnishing, “and there would be silence,” he says with a laugh. “I could hear her wheels turning, but I couldn’t read her.”

The living room’s Colonnade Tray Table Floor Lamp lights up the living room.
R&R The living room’s Colonnade Tray Table Floor Lamp lights up the living room.

McGovern says the judge was a delight to work with, even though they were faced with many challenges — including transforming a dated palette of sunny yellow, gold, and red; popcorn ceilings; and some very last-century appointments. “He had worked with a designer and, in its day, the condo was very nice,” McGovern says. “But that was several decades ago.

“We did have to do a little negotiating,” she adds. “He acquiesced when it came to a total re-do of his kitchen; the dining room furnishings, which were bench-built in Canada; and his sleigh bed. But I gladly accepted two chinoiserie cabinets and a handful of Baker pieces.”

McGovern also happily worked with Talbot’s impressive collection of  black-and-white etchings, and his alphabetized library filled with historical novels and books on architecture and Irish history.

One small hang-up, McGovern explains, involved the use of color. “The judge liked the jewel tones, especially amethyst and violet, and also burgundy, but he didn’t think he wanted blue. Try as I might, I couldn’t work any magic unless I could inject some blue.”

McGovern and her team made their case, and the judge made his final decision: Go blue. “They were very patient, explaining X, Y, and Z to me, so I was willing to trust her,” Talbot says.

“The living room had a strong blue influence, which transitioned into aquamarine in the dining room. But his trust in my team extended all the way to allowing us to paint the living room ceiling a soft blue-gray (Sherwin-Williams’ Network Gray),” the designer says. “And the kitchen looks great in blues, too — it’s beautifully bedecked with a luminous blue Seneca hand-molded tile with Pewabic’s famous decorative inserts placed strategically throughout the backsplash.

The office/library is one of the homeowner’s favorite places to be.The office/library is one of the homeowner’s favorite places to be.
R&R The office/library is one of the homeowner’s favorite places to be.

“She really made a handsome space,” Talbot says.

“The important backgrounds were all up for grabs,” McGovern adds. “We replaced all the original tile floors with 4.5-inch plank hardwood, replaced carpeted areas with comfortable wools, and selected beautiful handmade rugs for the kitchen, foyer, dining room, and bathrooms.”

McGovern’s team also updated the wall coverings and paint in every room, and “the luxury bath that was on his original list, along with the guest bath, were gutted and transformed into beautiful, functional rooms complete with heated floors, body sprays, and favorite pieces of art,” she says.

Talbot loves McGovern’s stunning changes: “She completely rethought the space. The primary bath floor and walls are all travertine, there’s marvelous cabinetry, and all new lighting.”

The foyer/center hall sparkles with a Calypso Chandelier in Vibrant Bronze from Ray Lighting Center
SPARKLE & SHINE The foyer/center hall sparkles with a Calypso Chandelier in Vibrant Bronze from Ray Lighting Center.

The den features another of Talbot’s original requests: “I always wanted an Eames chair,” he says. “Black leather with a cherry wood frame. I live in it.”

That choice gave McGovern the cues she needed for the rest of his furnishings —custom bookcases, a comfy sleep sofa for the occasional overnight guest, and updated lighting. “Those came easily to us because his criteria were that everything needed to be comfortable, approachable, and stylish,” the designer says. “His style is pretty transitional — updated classic, clean, and masculine.”

A total re-do of the window treatments was required to complete the den, and a mini office was created from the den’s walk-in closet, painted a brilliant green (“Just so it didn’t feel like a cave with no windows,” McGovern explains) with a sliding barn door to keep any mess out of sight.

You can’t miss the kitchen’s pretty Pewabic tiles, interspersed throughout the luminous blue Seneca hand-molded backsplash.
SPARKLE & SHINE You can’t miss the kitchen’s pretty Pewabic tiles, interspersed throughout the luminous blue Seneca hand-molded backsplash.

McGovern says working in a multiple-unit building with common plumbing presented unique challenges. Making friends with the condo association’s building manager at the outset of the project helped to offset neighbors’ responses to frequent water shutoffs.

Because the home’s baths and kitchen were gutted and rebuilt, Talbot had to move out for a month to avoid all the dust, noise, and mess. He says it was well worth the inconvenience. And when he sees his neighbors he invites them in for a tour, to give them ideas of what could be done to their condos.

“I like coming home,” he says. “I’m proud of it.”

The homeowner’s favorite amethyst tone shows up in sisal wallpaper in the guest bath.
SUMPTUOUS BATHS The homeowner’s favorite amethyst tone shows up in sisal wallpaper in the guest bath.

 


BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGNER

Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park, kathleenmcgovernstudio.com

Featured Businesses

Pewabic Pottery, Accent Tiles,  Pewabic Decos, Kitchen.

Located in Detroit, pewabic.org.

Virginia Tile Co., Backsplash, Hand-Molded 4-inch Tile, Blue Lagoon, Seneca Studio, Kitchen. Locations in Farmington Hills, Livonia and Troy, virginiatile.com.

Tennant & Associates, Wallpaper, Guest Bathroom, Romo, Jungle in Sisal Amethyst, Michigan Design Center, Troy. michigandesign.com.

BATHROOM, GUEST

Artwork – “Village Collection” Giclee

Cabinet – 36-inch Poplin Vanity, Kohler, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Troy

Countertop – Enameled Cast Iron Vanity Top and Basin, White, Kohler, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Troy

Faucet – DXV Faucet, Polished Nickel, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Troy

Flooring – 12×24 Faroe Porcelain, Seashell, Virginia Tile Co., Troy

Light, Vanity – Chinoiserie Double Light, Polished Nickel with Glass Shade, E.F. Chapman, Visual Comfort

Mirror – Custom, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; 1/4-inch Clear Mirror with Bevels, St. Clair Glass & Mirror, Clinton Township

Shower, Door – Design, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; 3/8-inch Clear Tempered Glass Custom Frameless Door and Panel Shower Enclosure, Polished Nickel Hardware, St. Clair Glass & Mirror, Clinton Township

Shower, Floor Tile – Honed Marble Basketweave Mosaic, Bianco Carrara with Mugwort Dot, Virginia Tile Co., Troy

Shower, Walls, Ceiling, Curb Tile – 3×12 Hand-Molded Subway Tile, Gray Gloss, Virginia Tile Co., Troy

Wallpaper – Romo, Jungle in Sisal Amethyst, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy

 

BATHROOM, MASTER

Cabinetry – Design, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; Fabrication, Maplewood Cabinetry, Plymouth

Countertop – Custom, Quartz, Maplewood Cabinetry, Plymouth

Flooring – 12×24 Vein-Cut Honed Travertine, Siena Silver, Virginia Tile Co., Troy

Light, Ceiling – Titus Semi Flush, Polished Nickel, Kichler, Ray Lighting Center, Sterling Heights; Shade, Steel Mesh Ironwork Shade

Sconces – Drunmore Single Sconce, Polished Nickel and Crystal with Linen Shade, Aerin, Visual Comfort

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Vanilla Milkshake

FOYER/CENTER HALL

Armchair – Oval X Armchair, Barbara Barry for Baker Furniture; Fabric, Guild Velvet in Varello, Designers Guild, Rozmallin, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Chandelier – Calypso Chandelier, Vibrant Bronze, Crystorama, Ray Lighting Center, Sterling Heights

Rug – Lucent Area Rug, Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Table – Barbara Barry for Baker Furniture

Wallpaper (Bottom) – Suwon Sisal, Sharkskin, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Wallpaper (Top) – Alexander, Metallic Silver, Thibaut

 

KITCHEN

Backsplash – Hand-Molded 4-inch Tile, Blue Lagoon, Seneca Studio, Virginia Tile Co., Troy; Accent Tiles,  Pewabic Decos, Pewabic Pottery, Detroit

Cabinetry (Lower), Paint – Benjamin Moore, Newburg Green

Cabinetry (Upper), Paint – Benjamin Moore, Seapearl

Wallpaper – Jindo Grasscloth, Navy, Thibaut

LIVING ROOM

Armchair and Ottoman – Jules Swivel Chair and Ottoman, Hickory Chair; Fabric, Kravet, HC 4302-35 with Contrast Welt, Kravet | Lee Jofa | Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Chair, Wingback – Isaac Wing Chair, Leather Ashen, Hickory Chair

Drapery – Design,  Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; Fabrication, Vantay Draperies, Madison Heights; Fabric, Kravet, 33224-511, Kravet | Lee Jofa | Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Trim, Samuel & Sons, Greek Fret, Porcelain, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Floor Lamp (With Shelves) – Colonnade Tray Table Floor Lamp, Robert Abbey Fine Lighting, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Light, Ceiling – Exos Double, Soft Gold, Hubbardton Forge

Pillows, Sofa (Fabric) – Kravet, 33299-5, Kravet | Lee Jofa | Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Sofa – Kent Sofa, Hickory Chair

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Seapearl

The master bath is luxe with polished nickel lighting and beautiful
SUMPTUOUS BATHS The master bath is luxe with polished nickel lighting and beautiful

 

OFFICE/LIBRARY/DEN

Cabinetry – Hardware, 12-inch Ultima II, Oil-Rubbed Bronze, Omnia Industries; Paint Color, Sherwin-Williams, Serious Gray

Chair, Recliner and Ottoman – Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, Charles & Ray Eames for Herman Miller, Design Within Reach

Door, Barn – Design, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; Maplewood Cabinetry, Plymouth; Paint Color, Sherwin-Williams, Gleeful

Fan – Torsion Fan, Dark Bronze, The Modern Fan Co., Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Troy

Lighting, Bookshelf – 30-inch Cabinet Maker’s Picture Light, Bronze, E.F. Chapman, Visual Comfort

Pillows, Accent (Fabric) – Jeil, Navy, Old World Weavers, Stark Carpet, Troy

Rug – Move Area Rug, Louis De Poortere, Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Sconces – Architect’s Swing Arm Sconce, Bronze with Silk Shade, Studio VC, Visual Comfort

Sofa – Yucca Valley Boxed Back Twin Sleeper Sofa, Duralee Furniture

Table, Occasional – Bessemer Accent Table, Drexel Heritage Furniture

Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Serious Gray; Accent, Sherwin-Williams, Gleeful

Window Shades – Graber Natural Shades, Saterra, Azure, Springs Window Fashions

Window Seat, Cushion, and Accent Pillows – Design, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; Fabrication, Tom’s Custom Upholstery, Troy; Cushion Fabric, Jura in Blue with Contrast Welt, Jeil, Navy, Old World Weavers, Stark Carpet, Troy

 

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS

Cabinet Painting and Refinishing – Maplewood Cabinetry, Plymouth

Custom Upholstery – Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; Tom’s Custom Upholstery, Troy

Custom Window Treatments – Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design, Grosse Pointe Park; Vantay Draperies, Madison Heights

Paint and Wallpaper Installation – David Bishop, St. Clair Shores

Window Shade Installation – Schattler Shades & Blinds, Rochester Hills


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