Lightening Up

Modern, yet welcoming describes bright new-build in Birmingham // Photography by Beth Singer
Peaceful Palette
A clean, modern, and bright look runs throughout the home, including here in the living room.

Homeowners often envision interiors that resemble their favorite boutique hotel. Few, however, actually move to a city because of a hotel experience.

Pat and Paula Garrity are an exception. The couple moved to Michigan from New Canaan, Conn., with their son, when Pat accepted a job with the Detroit Pistons. “We chose Birmingham because my husband used to stay at The Townsend Hotel when his team came to town to play the Pistons,” Paula explains. “He loved the town and thought I’d like it, too.”

She did. One of the things the family liked most about the area — and felt strongly about having in their future home — was access to Birmingham’s downtown. They purchased their lot from Brandywine Construction “because it was one of the few available that was truly walking distance to town,” Paula explains, adding, “it’s also a bit larger than many of the lots in the neighborhood.” After taking down an existing structure, the couple started from scratch with Brandywine, Krieger Klatt Architects, and designer Katie Rodriguez on a replacement that included 5,000 square feet, with four bedrooms and four baths.

A modern, streamlined design in the kitchen and wine areas (both pages) creates an inviting look.

Using an existing design as a starting point, the team tweaked and tailored the floor plan to fit the family’s tastes and needs. They added a sport court in the backyard and a full gym in the basement, as well as an apartment above the garage for guests and the couple’s parents.

Frequent moves through the years helped the couple hone their wish list. “You learn many things in that process,” Paula says. “We wanted to be efficient with space. We didn’t want a bunch of excess square footage. With a family of three (as well as a dog named Harper), we didn’t want big — just nice. We wanted it light and bright, with lots of windows.”

They also wanted the interiors to reflect that goal, which spurred the builder to recommend Rodriguez as part of the design team. “We liked her so much that I continued to use her for interior design afterward,” Paula says. “She’s so easy to work with.”

The admiration is mutual, says Rodriguez, who praises Garrity for her eye for design as well as her sense of organization. Much of the project was done while the family was still living in Connecticut, which added logistical challenges — something the team solved through frequent communication and visits. “Paula flew back and forth for final selections,” the designer explains, adding that doing so made the building process easier. “It’s important for clients to see tile and counters in person. No one likes a surprise.”

The house was completed before Zoom meetings revolutionized the process, she points out, adding, “now I do Zoom meetings for houses that are a half-hour away!” The family’s existing furniture and other items that were making the move were also taken into consideration during planning. “The Garritys were pretty consistent in the style of furnishings from their prior home, so integrating new pieces was easy,” Rodriguez says.

Paula says the designer “quickly picked up on my vision and style.” Rodriguez describes that look as “clean, modern, and bright,” and says the goal was achieved through a minimal palette of neutral colors and adding accents in pillows and art. A light white oak floor reinforces the “modern, yet welcoming” feel the designer and homeowners were after.

Project highlights include the kitchen, which features a clean, streamlined design and transom windows over the cabinets. “I don’t see that often,” Rodriquez says. “It accomplished bringing in light without having a window that was looking at the neighbor’s house.” She also loves the main living area. “It feels like something you can really sink into with close family and friends, yet is polished enough for entertainment.”

Let There Be Light
A Visual Comfort chandelier (City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy) is the crowning jewel in the dining room.

The building process took about 16 months. Rodriguez says that with the floor plan, they were able to do “a fantastic job of utilizing the space we had. With the openness of the kitchen, living space, and breakfast nook, it’s easy to live and entertain in. A bonus is the covered loggia just outside the living space, which extends the entertaining area.”

“We love Birmingham and living in Michigan,” Paula says. “It’s been a great place to raise our son, and we walk to town all the time. Neither of us has family here, but we’re extremely happy and have no plans to leave. It’s a house we could easily live in forever.”

Unique touches

The master suite and stairway exude elegance with special lighting and quality materials.


Katie Rodriguez, Katie Rodriguez Design, Birmingham,

Bathtub – Neptune Products, Universal Plumbing Supply, Oak Park
Cabinet – Ideology, Birmingham
Countertop – Ciot, Troy
Faucet – Grohe, Universal Plumbing Supply, Oak Park
Floor, Shower – Sinto Carerra Marble Hex, Cercan Tile, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – White Mini Crystal, Ciot, Troy
Sconces – RH
Sink – Decolav, Universal Plumbing Supply, Oak Park
Stool – Lighting Resource Studio, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Gray Screen

athroom beauty
A chandelier from RH, plus Candace Olson (Duralee) wallpaper, equal pure elelgance in the powder room.

Cabinet – Ideology, Birmingham
Chandelier – RH
Mirror – Custom, Brandywine Construction & Management, Birmingham; Surround, Ideology, Birmingham
Sink – Kohler, Universal Plumbing Supply, Oak Park
Wall Treatment – Candice Olson, Duralee

Armchair – Robert Allen and Duralee, Decoroom, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Blinds – Hunter Douglas, Interior Services by Peter Maurer
Chandelier – RH
Fireplace – Silver White, Ciot, Troy
Flooring – Main Floor Carpet One Floor & Home, Royal Oak

Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Rug – Silver Gray Sisal, Hagopian, Birmingham
Wall Treatment – JF Fabrics

Cabinetry – Ideology, Birmingham
Chairs, Dining – Sandler Seating, Hampton Products Inc., Royal Oak
Countertop – Ciot, Troy
Faucet – Grohe, Universal Plumbing Supply, Oak Park
Flooring – White Oak
Hood – Specified by Ideology, Birmingham
Lighting, Island – Arteriors, Lighting Resource Studio, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Refrigerators – Specified by Ideology, Birmingham
Sink – Thompson Traders, Universal Plumbing Supply, Oak Park
Wine Cooler – Specified by Ideology, Birmingham
Wine Storage – Specified by Ideology, Birmingham

Chairs, Patterned – Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Fireplace – Alaska White, Ciot, Troy
Flooring – White Oak
Lamp, Floor – RH
Ottoman – Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Rug – Milliken, Main Floor Carpet One Floor & Home, Royal Oak
Sofas, Gray – RH
Stools, Wooden – Bernhardt, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Glass End – Bernhardt, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Custom Mix, White

Chandelier – RH
Flooring – White Oak
Stair Runner – Masland, Main Floor Carpet One Floor & Home, Royal Oak
Wall Paint – Custom Mix, White

Exterior Siding Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Functional Gray
Exterior Trim Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Backdrop
Masonry – Columbus Brick Stonechase Genuine Papercut

Architect – Krieger Klatt Architects, Royal Oak
Builder – Brandywine Construction & Management, Birmingham
Cabinet Designer – Ideology, Birmingham