Kitchen & Bath: Kitchens

It was time to freshen up this Birmingham kitchen — knocking down a wall was just the beginning.

Kitchen 1: Traditional to Transitional

It was time to freshen up this Birmingham kitchen — knocking down a wall was just the beginning

By Megan Swoyer // Photographs by Martin Vecchio // Styling by Tanya Zager Chisholm

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Shirley MaddalenaBACKSTORY
Interior designer Shirley Maddalena, of Maddalena Design in Birmingham, has worked with homeowner Sue Conway on several of Conway’s homes over the years. Conway’s current Birmingham home needed “freshening,” according to the duo, and one of the top priorities was updating the kitchen. “Sue wanted light and bright, more transitional and less traditional, and more of a 21st-century appeal,” Maddalena says. For starters, a wall between the kitchen and a breakfast room was knocked down, so now there’s a large eating area that’s part of the kitchen.

The biggest issue was whether or not they could lose the aforementioned wall, which divided the space. “We weren’t sure about big support beams or mechanicals —  things that are hard to check beforehand,” Maddalena says. “Once they knocked the studs and drywall out, we were free and clear!”

Designer Shirley Maddalena chose black granite to complement and ground the white cabinetry, and granite with unique veining for the island. “Granite is usually spotted and solid, but we wanted a piece with unusual veining for the island,” Maddalena says. “It’s the central piece of the room.”

The island’s transitional-style chairs feature a java color with a silver trim and an iridescent orange-red seat. That bright color (as well as the orange in the cantaloupe painting from the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham) complements the violet-blue wall.

Although Maddalena likes to preserve what pieces she can during a renovation, she and the homeowner decided the traditional chandelier must go. In its place will soon hang a chandelier that offers the latest in technology, with 12 crystal tubes and LED lights at its base.

“I love my kitchen,” Conway says. “It’s more contemporary now. My favorite elements are the wall color, the backsplash, and the island. There’s enough space for my daughter to do homework, and when my boys are home from college, their friends come over and everyone gathers in the kitchen.”

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The kitchen previously had soft, muted-gold walls that were “warm and wonderful,” Maddalena says, but the team — which includes Maddalena’s assistant, Katie Rosinski — wanted to do something different and unpredictable. “We needed to download, reboot, erase, and think outside the box,” Maddalena says. Conway likes blue, so the designers pulled out their Sherwin-Williams fan deck and sampled three or four paints in blue and violet tones before deciding on Lupine (SW-6810), in the violet family, with Alabaster trim (SW-7008). “We’re thrilled with the results,” Maddalena says.

“We wanted the backsplash to be an elegant accessory, and not jump in your face,” Maddalena says. “Our first selection was too flat and uninteresting.” They eventually went with a black iridescent tile from Virginia Tile Co. “That tile also inspired our selection for the wall paint,” she adds.

Kitchen 2: A Tale of Two Styles

There’s more than one side to every makeover — including this one


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Jane Synnestvedt
Jane Synnestvedt

When interior designer Jane Synnestvedt, of Jane Synnestvedt Interior Design in Birmingham, embarked on this Metamora kitchen’s design journey, her goal was to combine the styles of both her clients (he likes traditional, she likes contemporary) to “create a gathering place that would be the heart of their home,” Synnestvedt says. “This was successfully achieved by the color palette and by our choice of materials. For example, using copper (a material one would normally use outdoors) indoors, for the front face of a turret, helped to create a cozy place that both the homeowners and their guests love to be in.”

“My clients felt strongly about respecting the integrity of the home’s original kitchen,” Synnestvedt says. “My challenge was to help them see beyond what was pre-existing and to create a space they felt would do justice to the home and its history while, at the same time, incorporating their desire to include both contemporary and traditional elements.”

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The door between the kitchen and the den was custom-built to look like a sliding door from an old barn, and it has a woven stainless steel wire insert that allows the heat from the wood-burning stove in the adjoining den to help warm up the kitchen. The door’s surrounding moulding came from wood that was resurfaced and milled from fallen trees on the property. “If we hadn’t saved this wood, I would have felt awful,” the homeowner says.

The homeowners love reading, lounging, snacking, and schmoozing in the seated area located in the fabulous turret-like space (the turret is faced with copper ) that a local Metamora contractor, Greg Antonelli, added. A ceiling that was faux-finished to resemble the sky also intrigues.

The four pendant lights from Global Views that hang over the island are made out of woven wire and copper, thus repeating materials used for the sliding door and for the turret. “I like things to have continuity,” Synnestvedt says.

“The first time we met Jane she gave us all kinds of great ideas, and she ended up making our home comfortable and calming,” the lady of the house says. “This would not have happened without her expertise. If we were left to our own devices, all the walls would have been white. She also managed to preserve the historical aspects of our home and the story it had to tell. That was very important to us.”

(See stories on two bathrooms in this home in this section’s “Baths 1 & 2.”)

Kitchen 3: Original Beauty

Touches of teak and copper — and rustic barn wood beams — accent a tasteful Tudor kitchen


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For this kitchen renovation in an almost 80-year-old Birmingham Tudor, interior designer Jane Synnestvedt’s goal was to “keep its original genre. It was very important that the mouldings and woodwork flowed with the rest of the house,” she says.

“We had to install a steel beam to replace the archway we removed between the kitchen and the breakfast area. We were able to cover it up, first with drywall and then with traditional beadboard,” says Synnestvedt, who’s based in Birmingham.

With its beautiful teak top and painted white wooden base, the enormous 58-inch-wide by 9-foot-long island is the hub of the kitchen. “The teak is really easy to keep up,” the homeowner says. “I’m pleasantly surprised.”

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The island is home to a white porcelain farm sink by Shaws, and not one but two dishwashers. “We use a lot of cereal bowls,” the mother of three boys says.

Several hand-hewn, white oak barn wood beams were placed along the ceiling, and barn wood was used to line the wall behind the built-in bar. “We went on a field trip to Fenton with our contractor (Derek Weiss, builder and master carpenter at Home Dimensions) and hand-picked the wood,” the homeowner says. “It all came from a 100-year-old barn in Saginaw.”

Several elements make this kitchen a standout. For one, the tile was custom made at Pewabic in Detroit (see more on Pewabic in “Kitchen 5”). The bold hand-hammered copper range hood (complete with copper rivets) came from Pewaukee, Wis. The Native Trails hand-hammered copper bar sink and its U.S.-made Waterstone copper faucet were purchased at Russell Hardware in Bloomfield Hills. Several copper accessories have been placed on either side of the Wolf range. “Some of them came from my husband’s family, others from my travels, and one little tray actually came from an estate sale just down the street,” the homeowner says.

“Jane really listened and gave me all the things I wanted,” the homeowner says. “I love the kitchen’s warmth and comfort, and the way it makes me feel. It’s rustic and traditional, very classic, and also timeless,” she says.

Kitchen 4: Sizzling with Style

Special details and an open floor plan make this renovated space the perfect fit for its owners

By Jamie Fabbri // Photographs by Beth Singer

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Toby Sneider
Toby Sneider

Interior designer Toby Sneider, of Sneider Custom Interiors in West Bloomfield, was up for the challenge when tapped by a local couple to renovate their Bloomfield Hills home. The dwelling, built in 1980, was purchased in 2013 by its current owners, who intended to renovate it immediately. “It was completely gutted,” says Sneider, who worked with the homeowners every step of the way to create an open space. The biggest goal in the kitchen was to make sure there was “an easy (flow into) the open floor plan of the main level,” Sneider says. She accomplished the task by moving walls to expand the space, which even allowed for the addition of a butler’s pantry.

One initial concern was whether there would be adequate storage space, but thanks to Sneider and Andy Sallan, of Millennium Cabinetry in Farmington Hills, the cabinetry and additional storage were seamlessly integrated into the kitchen and throughout the home.

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A mix of textures and materials helped add special touches. Two different backsplashes are featured — a herringbone pattern in the main kitchen area and antique, mirrored tile in the butler’s pantry.

The use of white pearl natural quartz keeps countertops low-maintenance. The homeowners’ grandchildren visit often, so easy-to-clean surfaces were a must.

The homeowner wanted to build a collection of antiques and more to display in the cabinets, which have glass doors. Designer Toby Sneider turned to Judy Frankel Antiques Centre in Troy for vintage finds.

Overall, the kitchen space is now comfortable, spacious, and conducive to entertaining. “We love everything about it,” says the lady of the house. “We knew we wanted to gut it going in; now we have everything we could have wanted.”

(See story on two bathrooms in this home in this section’s “Baths 3 & 4.”)

Kitchen 5: Pieces of History

A St. Clair Shores homeowner calls on Detroit’s celebrated Pewabic to imbue her kitchen with handcrafted beauty

By Megan Pennefather // Photo by Brett J. Lawrence

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How do you make your kitchen part of a historical design legacy? As one St. Clair Shores kitchen demonstrates, it all starts with the tile.

“Pewabic architectural tile designs are one-of-a-kind,” says Mario Lopez, technical designer for Pewabic in Detroit. “Nobody else produces glazes and tile like Pewabic.”

Pewabic. The name itself brings to mind a time before Detroit was the Motor City — when it was a nascent center of industry, a place where artists and artisans mingled in a dynamic mix of art and innovation.

According to the owner of this St. Clair Shores kitchen, incorporating Pewabic tiles into the design was about more than just aesthetics. She shares that her goal was to have a home that “reflects the cultural environment my husband and I grew up with. It’s part of historic Detroit.”

John Mozena, of Mutschler Kitchens, updated the kitchen, which was originally designed by Chris Blake of Blake Co. It looks out over a stunning view of Lake St. Clair and includes memorabilia from the homeowners’ many travels.

“I wanted something classic yet stunning, to complement the space’s unique décor,” Lopez explains.

That “classic” comes in the way of a backsplash that consists of variegated, iridescent green Pewabic tiles to go with a green marble countertop. The proximity of Lake St. Clair figured into the homeowner’s cool color choice, too — the greens of the kitchen play against the blues of the nearby lake. “My husband and I love to live in a place where the outside pours into the inside,” the homeowner says.

The changing elevations between the counter levels made designing the backsplash a bit daunting, Lopez says. “The challenge was in keeping the flow of the pattern without compromising its effect,” he adds.

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The backsplash is composed of 3-inch by  3-inch tiles laid diagonally, as well as green iridescent trim around a linear base of mixed glossy greens.

The tiles were installed by Dennis and Don DeSandre, of DeSandre Tile Co. The homeowner says placing each unique tile was painstaking work that showcased the DeSandres’ considerable talent. “They were real artists,” she says.

The home was built in 1998, and the kitchen’s wood floor and cabinetry are part of Blake’s original design. The cabinets were updated with porcelain doorknobs from Portofino, Italy.

“The kitchen has an eastern-facing glass wall and the morning sunrise really ignites the iridescent glazes,” Lopez says.

The homeowner is impressed by how Lopez, Mozena, and the DeSandres were all able to translate her vision into a tangible design. “When people help you do what you envision,” she says, “that’s a great gift.”

Kitchen 6: Mid-Century Makeover

With the preservation of its original beams (and more), this updated 1950s kitchen tastefully lives up to its past 

By Megan Swoyer // Photographs by Jeff Garland

Kitchens 16BACKSTORY
“The kitchen was in the worst shape of any room in the house,” recalls Janine Flaccavento, referring to the Bloomfield Hills home she and her husband, Scott Reid, purchased when they moved here from Toronto. The couple worked with Staci Meyers of S|A|M Interiors, Bloomfield Hills, and Stuart Rosenberg, of Designer Homes Inc., to put their mid-century residence in tip-top design shape. Says Meyers: “Janine and Scott are a fun, young couple, and they’re very progressive and educated about their vision for their home. That made it a good fit for me; it was fun to find things for them. The home has a bit of an international vibe because of their work and travel.” (They work for The Mars Agency, a marketing firm specializing in retail marketing and advertising.)

“We updated without losing the features of the wonderful beams and stained wood in the home,” Meyers says. “The clients wanted a sleek, clean kitchen with white and stainless accents. We did our best to honor the existing features without making them feel out of place.”

Custom cabinetry with a high-gloss Thermofoil front from Extraordinary Works in Troy adds a clean look, as does the Cambria “Durham” quartz countertop. “They wanted a clean look, without a lot of busy movement that you sometimes get with stone,” says designer Staci Meyers. Also clean: Fresh white walls in Sherwin-Williams Shoji White (SW 7042) and “Concrete Project” floor tile (24 by 48 inches — looks like concrete) from Ciot in Troy.

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The gas cooktop required a topnotch hood — a priority for the homeowners because they enjoy cooking. Meyers had it custom-made for the space.

The ceiling is a concrete form with a Gyp Board surface, so the task lighting has mounted LED surface lights.

“Cherry wood was the original species for the woodwork in the kitchen, but it was so beat up,” Meyers says. “We refinished all of it, as we believe in keeping elements as natural and true to the original architecture as possible.”

The homeowners’ amber glass collection warms the space.

Stainless steel appliances came from Witbeck Home Appliance Mart in West Bloomfield. They complement an all-stainless-steel backsplash and toe kicks.

The black textured ceramic wall tile from Cercan Tile in Troy looks perfect with the existing Danish teak chairs that were reupholstered with durable vinyl from Robert Allen (Michigan Design Center, Troy).

A vintage light above the dining room table is from ReDesign Home in Royal Oak. “It’s a laminated piece of freeform wood,” Meyers says. “It creates pop and is a good reflection of the homeowners’ personality and taste.”

“Now, (the kitchen) is our favorite place to hang out, cook, and entertain,” Flaccavento says. “Being Italian, cooking is one of my favorite things to do and this space, with all of its natural light and views into the wooded areas of the property, makes it even more pleasurable.”

(See story on two bathrooms in this home in this section’s “Baths 5 & 6.”)