Ann-Marie Anton’s business is named It’s Personal Design, but even she admits that a recently completed project — an approximately 6,000-square-foot new home in Grosse Pointe Farms built for her parents — was more personal than most.
Energetic octogenarians Gabe and Pat Anton had built their previous lakefront house in 1988 and lived there for more than 30 years, but were ready for a change. “They were aging and the house had some steps they were concerned about,” the designer says of her parents’ former home. “My dad always said he would only leave feet first, but it wasn’t practical anymore and it was a ton of maintenance.”
Less maintenance, more accessibility as they aged, and reconciling two disparate design styles were among the project’s priorities, Anton says. When a vacant lot near the Country Club of Detroit became available, the pair decided to start fresh and build one more time.
The designer worked closely with her parents throughout the 1.5-year process, from early architectural drawings through completion. The original plan was to downsize, but the house, which Anton describes as “Country French with a contemporary influence,” ultimately ended up about the same size as the couple’s previous home.
“They certainly didn’t need that much space,” Anton admits. “However, they wanted to be able to have all of our family come in from out of town and stay with them.” The couple moved in the day before Thanksgiving in 2019 — just in time for the holidays, Gabe points out.
“Our home has always been a gathering place, and that’s what’s most important to us,” Gabe explains. The extended family includes four children, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, with another on the way. “It’s a great house for entertaining and never feels crowded. Everyone was here and it was wonderful.”
A spacious separate apartment over the garage that has its own entrance helps makes that possible — and can accommodate a future caregiver, should the couple need live-in help down the line. Gabe and Pat lived in the upstairs apartment for a month while the home was being completed and gave the space a big thumbs-up. “It was fabulous,” Gabe says of the accommodations.
The house’s main living area was designed to have no steps to the outside; a clever door hidden in the front hall’s rosewood paneling opens to reveal a concealed elevator should the stairs become an issue. The designer credits Greg Bartelt of Vogue Furniture for the “amazing interior custom wood finishes” found throughout the home.
Challenges included almost complete autonomy, the designer explains. “They gave me no instructions, really, except for my mom saying ‘the house has to hug me,’ and telling me they wanted it to be warm and inviting.”
While the couple agreed on construction priorities, they were less aligned when it came to the interior design. “My mom is very traditional and my dad is contemporary, so blending the two worlds was tough,” Anton admits. The solution was a warm contemporary with a mix of materials and textures that satisfied both Pat and Gabe.
Highlights include an open floor plan with a living room and kitchen that look out over the backyard. “I don’t consider this an overly contemporary house, but there’s a nice sense of freedom,” Gabe says of the airy floor plan, which encompasses the transitional kitchen designed by Architectural Kitchens in Troy. A first-floor den — where the couple displays items from their extensive art collection and where they spend most of their time relaxing — is adjacent to a peaceful first-floor master bedroom that leads to an enviable master bath and wet room.
The Antons aren’t new to building — this is their third time — but this is the first project they were able to work on with Ann-Marie. “Every project is a labor of love for me but this one was very emotional and special,” the designer says. “I wanted it to be everything they dreamed it would be. I felt very personally responsible for everything that went into it, because I knew they put all their trust in me and I didn’t want to disappoint either of them.”
Her parents have had no complaints. “It wasn’t an easy decision to leave our other house, but it was refreshing to do something out of the box,” Gabe says, adding that while they tried to be sensitive to the architecture of the surrounding neighborhood, the house is a little different than other residences in the mostly traditional area — something they see as part of its charm.
Gabe and Pat are looking forward to hosting family and friends again this holiday season. “Every room in the house functions beautifully and as it was intended,” Gabe says. “We accomplished everything we set out to do.”
Ann-Marie Anton, It’s Personal Design, Grosse Pointe Woods, itspersonaldesign.com
Bathtub – BainUltra, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Cabinetry – Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Countertop – Geoluxe, Nestos Royal, Ciot, Troy
Faucet – Waveland, Phylrich, Herald Wholesale, Troy
Lighting – Sonneman, Lighting Resource Studio, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Shower – Perlato Olimpo, Ciot, Troy
Vanity – Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Vanity Chair – Selva
Wall and Ceiling Treatment – Giardani Wall Covering
Armchair – Baker Furniture, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Artwork – Erté
Bedframe – Mohair Custom, Florias Kimon Custom Upholstery, Pontiac
Comforter – Grey Watkins, Stark Carpet, Troy
Drapery – Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Fireplace – PMP Marble & Stone, Troy; Fabrication by Wolverine Stone Co., Warren; Walnut Wood Niches, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Flooring – Nourison, The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lighting, Hallways – Custom
Metal Frame with Floating Walnut Shelf/Metal Frame with Mirror in Hallway – Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Wall Treatment – Silk Wallpaper, Winfield Thybony, Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wood Surround on Bed, Nightstands and Bench – Custom, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Built-In Entertainment Wall – Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Carpet — Antrim Carpets, The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamp — Arteriors
Shelving Display — Custom, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Sofa – Baker Furniture, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Coffee — Bolier & Co.
Table, End — Custom, Designer Furniture Services and Fabrics, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bar — Premier Custom Built Cabinetry, Bill Higgins at Architectural Kitchens, Troy
Chairs – Draernert
Table – Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Chandelier – Custom
Door, Front – Custom, Daiek Woodworks, Bruce Township
Flooring – Grey Pulpis Honed, Ciot, Troy
Staircase – Pro-Stair and Railing, London, Ontario
Chairs – Janus et Cie
Pots (in front of house) – Restoration Hardware, Troy
Rug – Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table – Holly Hunt
Armchairs – Hancock and Moore, Baker Furniture, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Artwork – Gallerie 454, Grosse Pointe Park
Drapery – Jane Churchill, Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Fireplace – Polished Pulpis Gris Marble, Ciot, Troy; Fabrication by Wolverine Stone Co., Warren
Flooring – Grey Pulpis Honed, Ciot, Troy
Lamp – Jewel Lamp, Elan Atelier, Atelier Gary Lee
Rug – Tufenkian Artisan Carpets, The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sofas – The Bright Group
Table, Coffee – Custom Goatskin, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Table, End – Custom, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Early Morning Mist 1528
Wall Sconces – Cast Bronze and Onyx, Markus Haase, Todd Merrill Studio
Bar Stools – A. Rudin
Cabinetry – Premier Custom Built Cabinetry, Bill Higgins at Architectural Kitchens, Troy
Countertop and Island – Cristallo, Ciot, Troy
Flooring – Grey Pulpis Honed, Ciot, Troy
Ovens – Miele
Shelving, Pantry – Schlabach, Architectural Kitchens, Troy
LIVING ROOM, APARTMENT
Entertainment Stand – Theodore Alexander, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Lamps – Arteriors
Flooring – White Oak
Leather Armchairs – Selva
Rug – The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sofa – Bolier & Co.
Table, Coffee – Noir
Table, End – Bernhardt Furniture, RJ Thomas, Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Jute AF-80
ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS
Architect — Jim DeBard, Rochester Hills
Architectural Elements — Jamie Mertz, Mertz Design, Grosse Pointe
Builder — Ed Russell, Russell Development Co., Grosse Pointe Farms
Cabinet Designer and Supplier — Bill Higgins, Architectural Kitchens, Troy
Landscaping — Bill Whetstone, Greater Detroit Landscape Co., Warren
Millwork — Greg Bartelt, Vogue Furniture, Royal Oak