Heartfelt Home

How Dick and Donna Purtan found love, combined households, and are living happily ever after // Photography by Rose Catherine Hohl
With plenty of seating, this inviting and open great room features enough space for the couple’s families to gather.

It was heartwarming news when retired Detroit radio legend Dick Purtan announced his marriage to Donna Hammar last June. Two years earlier, Purtan had lost his beloved wife of 60 years, Gail, after a valiant fight with cancer. Hammar, a former model and family friend, had known the Purtans since 1971 and had been divorced for many years.

After Gail’s death, Hammar sent a sympathy letter. Many months later she commented about a funny item Purtan wrote on his dickpurtan.com blog, adding that maybe they could see each other again sometime. Purtan knew the church she belonged to, and decided to try to see her there one Sunday — but she’d gone to a different service. He left her a note and signed it “Dick,” but she didn’t know it was Purtan until she called him back. They had lunch, and things took off from there. The two fell in love and eventually decided to wed. Both had homes, but they wanted a place where they could make new memories.

The couple found the perfect spot: a 2,500-square-foot, light-filled, three-bedroom, four-bath condo built in 1995, with a view of a pond, lots of mature trees and wildlife, great architectural lines, plenty of space for their combined families to gather, and tons of storage. The only downside was that the home was bland, and the whole residence needed a face-lift. Luckily, Hammar’s son-in-law, Michael Blum of Mosaic Building Group in Plymouth, was able to take on the project immediately.

Soon after they purchased the home, the Purtans met with interior designer Rima Belau, owner of Rima Designs, LLC in Plymouth. It was mid-March, the day before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced all schools would be closing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were very lucky,” Belau says. “The condo was purchased and empty. A lot of the work was done (by Mosaic) before everything shut down. It gave us time to order things like flooring, furniture, and accessories. Quite a few decisions were made by social distancing — I’d leave samples or send them pictures.”

Beyond her interior design tasks, a monster issue for Belau was helping the couple figure out which pieces they would bring from their current homes to their new house, which things would go to their families, and which would be donated.

“They were very eager to do it,” Belau says, “but it was kind of overwhelming — a lifetime of memories. Every day, I gave them assignments on sticky notes. One might be a list of people to call, or to go through the downstairs den.” She orchestrated two purges: one to stage the houses to sell, the other to get ready to move after the sale.

“I ended up wearing many hats, including wedding planner,” she says, adding how much she loved her tasks. The couple had originally planned a wedding in Petoskey, but that was out because of the pandemic. Then there was the guest count. They weren’t sure, given the daily changes with the COVID-19 restrictions, if they could have 10 people or 100. At the last minute, the couple was able to invite around 70 people, and they held the celebration at Purtan’s house.

For the new condo, Belau toured both Purtan’s and Hammar’s homes, and noted the pieces that were most meaningful. “From there, it was about filling in the gaps and balancing their personal styles; she leans more toward clean lines and modern, while he has a great appreciation for classic heirloom pieces.”

Standouts in the dining area include a striking pendant from Bellacor and a gorgeous waterfall-style countertop (Calacatta Laza).

In the great room, most of the pieces are new; the other rooms combine old, new, his, hers, and reupholstered to make it theirs, Belau says.

While Purtan works on his laptop under the soaring ceiling of the great room, the effervescent Hammar leads a tour of their new house. Puppy Winnie (named after Purtan’s historical hero, Winston Churchill) tags along.

The kitchen’s extensive redo includes several shades of warm grays, a marble waterfall countertop, a stone backsplash, a refinished floor, cupboards, and reupholstered chairs from Purtan’s dining set. “After so many years being single, I’m relearning how to cook,” Hammar laughs.

Guest room adornments

Warm neutrals, crown moldings, wainscoting, and other fine details grace many rooms, along with beautiful artwork and memorabilia from Purtan’s long and celebrated career. The lower level features a cozy nest of seating for movie-watching and a U-shaped bar that was completely redone.

Upstairs near the deck, a large expanse of windows filters in the sun. “That’s one thing Dick loved about this place when we found it,” Hammar says. “Dick loves the light here.”

“I thought it was you,” Purtan cracks, adding, “newlywed stuff.” They talk about how they met so many years ago and how happy they are that they reunited.

“It was a gift from God,” Hammar smiles.

Designers Jessica Rabban and Rima Belau


Rima Belau, Jessica Rabban, Rima Designs, LLC, Plymouth, therapy4yourhome.com

Cabinet (Paint) – Benjamin Moore, Atrium White
Countertop – Calacatta Laza, MVP Granite & Marble, WIxom
Mirror – Rockton Modern and Contemporary Mirror, Greyleigh
Sculpture – HomeGoods
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Perfect Greige

Artwork – Young Lincoln, Norman Rockwell (signed print)
Flooring – Carpet in Macadamia, Tigressa
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Naval

Bedside Chests – Theron Accent Chest, Revelation, Uttermost
Comforter – Duvet Cover Set, Harbor House
Euro Shams – HomeGoods
Lamps – Consign and Design, Canton
Pillows, Accent – Consign and Design, Canton
Shams – Ultra Lux, HomeGoods
Throw Blanket – Chunky Knit Throw, Casaluna
Wall Mosaic – Mosaic Building Group, Plymouth
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Less Brown

Cabinet (Paint) – Sherwin-Williams, Anonymous
Centerpiece – Homegoods
Chandelier – Four-Light Pendant in Brushed Nickel, Axis by Bellacor
Countertop – Calacatta Laza, MVP Granite & Marble, Wixom
Flooring – Hardwood in Aged Barrel, Preferred Hardwood Floors, Dearborn Heights
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Mega Greige
Wooden Bowls – HomeGoods

The inviting master bedroom, awash in calming neutrals.

Artwork – Home Interior Warehouse, Walled Lake
Drapery – Cavalier Fabric in Feather, Fabricated by Plymouth Tailoring & Alterations, Plymouth
Flooring – Stanton Carpet in Dusk, Flooring Consultants of Michigan, Chelsea
Pillows, Accent – HomeGoods
Recliner – La-Z-Boy
Sofas – Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design
Table, Coffee – Kendry, Uttermost
Vase, White – Consign and Design, Canton
Wall Paint – Sherwin Williams, Spalding Gray

Artwork – Jurgen Gorg
Lamp – Geometric Table Lamp in Champagne Gold, Possini Euro
Table, End – Chanzney, Gardener-White Furniture
Wall Paint – Sherwin Williams, Spalding Gray

Artwork – Home Interior Warehouse, Plymouth and Walled Lake
Chest – Nyle 4 Door Chest, Uttermost
Flooring – Stanton Carpet in Dusk, Flooring Consultants of Michigan, Chelsea
Wall Paint – Sherwin Williams, Spalding Gray

Builder – Michael Blum, Mosaic Building Group, Plymouth
Countertops – Pellumb and Mike Gjokaj, MVP Granite & Marble, Wixom
Flooring – Jill Moyer, Company Flooring Consultants of Michigan, Chelsea
Flooring (Hardwood) – Preferred Hardwood Floors, Dearborn Heights
Interior Design Assistant – Rachel Tapling, Rima Designs, LLC, Plymouth