A client’s Grand Rapids loft-style penthouse (pictured above) gave interior designer Stephen Knollenberg a chance to create a clean, contemporary space.
“I stayed with the flavor of the space, the vibe,” says the Birmingham-based Knollenberg, who worked with Williams Kitchen and Bath in Grand Rapids (williamskitchen.com).
The cabinets are a mix of Macassar ebony and white lacquer. The island top is quartz in a putty color similar to the concrete floors, which run throughout. The bar stools from Arkitektura in Situ in Birmingham (248-646-0097), are leather, which lends warmth. Pendant lights above the island are from Neidhardt (neidhardtinc.com).
Knollenberg says the curved bar was designed to separate the kitchen from the open dining-living area. “For the owners, who entertain frequently, the bar is a great place to set up food,” he says.
The quiet palette continues into the bath, where the wall behind the freestanding tub is slab marble. “It’s amazing to think that comes out of the earth,” Knollenberg says. The tub and plumbing fixtures are from Waterworks (waterworks.com). The geometric rug is from Stark Carpet in Troy (248-643-6632).
Knollenberg says the mirrored vanity wall was installed around a line of Jonathan Browning polished nickel sconces.
The art is a photograph by Lauren Semivan, who’s represented by the David Klein gallery (dkgallery.com).
For clients who may be considering a contemporary décor, Knollenberg suggests, “Get the envelope streamlined and beautiful and clean, and then you’re free to layer it. An antique chair would work in this space, a basket of towels, an antique candlestick. It’s about layering against a streamlined background.”
Birmingham boutique owner Lori Karbal wanted her 1950s Royal Oak ranch (pictured above) to be “comfortable and a little bit outside the box” — not unlike her eclectic shop, Lori Karbal, on North Old Woodward.
The focal point of her kitchen is Piero Fornasetti faces wallpaper. “People love it,” Karbal says. Other graphic elements include Conran dishtowels from ABC Carpet & Home in New York, a retro fixture from Merwin’s Antiques Gallery in Birmingham (248-258-3211), and a Virginia Tile backsplash with face detail.
Among Karbal’s collected objects are angels. The pictured winged cherub is from Del Giudice Antiques in Royal Oak (248-399-2608). “Joe Del Giudice loves angels,” she says. “My girlfriend says I’m the only Jewish girl with church stuff in my house.”
Sally Serwer, of Sally Serwer Designs in Birmingham (248-540-9415), helped Karbal edit the interior, including the newly redone bath, which features a chandelier, also from Merwin’s. The walls are finished with Beaver Tile that “has jewels,” Karbal says. “It’s so cool.” Bath accents include a skull from the Royal Oak Flea Market. “I liked skulls before people liked skulls,” she says. “It’s got polished stones all over it.” The framed print, from Metro Frame Inc. in Oak Park, is displayed against Fornasetti wallpaper. Karbal bought the framed “smokers” images (on the wall outside her bath) at the Chelsea Flea Market in New York, where she travels frequently to buy for her shop.
Although her home exudes a sense of glamour, Karbal says, “I like that it’s not perfect.”
Luciano Del Signore, owner of Bacco Ristorante and Pizzeria Biga, wanted to take his work home from “the office,” which is why he planned a commercial-style kitchen (pictured above).
“I wanted to make it a comfortable, commercial working space with everything at my fingertips — high BTUs, all my pots and pans not stuffed into a drawer,” Del Signore says.
Equipment fit for a chef includes a French-made Diva de Provence range. “It has two standard, conventional ovens that will hold a restaurant-size pan,” he says. Each burner heats to 30,000 BTUs because, he says, “I want my heat to come fast and I want it to hold.”
There’s also an indoor grill for when he “can’t shovel my way to the outdoor grill.” The back wall behind the range is marble with stainless schluter strips, says Carmine Martone, of Martone Design Studio in Northville (248-374-0300), who helped redesign the entire Bloomfield Hills home, including the custom aluminum-frame windows in a black anodized finish. The white counter surface is quartz. The roomy space allows for three sinks, including one at the espresso bar and a very large pot rack.
Kitchen elements also include a Japanese Teppanyaki grill, where Del Signore is pictured preparing Branzino Napoleon.
“When the kids were little and we lived in Northville, there was a Benihana the kids loved,” Del Signore says. “They ate so much there, I decided I was going to put a Benihana grill in the kitchen and make it more of a show. Everybody loves it. You can make any kind of food on it. It’s very thick stainless.”
For a man dedicated to food, a kitchen television may seem a bit of a surprise.
Del Signore explains: “We do spend time eating at the counter. And if there’s a game on Sunday, I can cook and not miss a play.”
Photographs by Beth Singer