Materials Girl

Designer Merien Daka deftly mixes a variety of elements with a transitional style for a fashion-forward Shelby Township couple // Photography by Martin Vecchio

When a couple with three grown children decided to build a dream home from scratch, they called on Merien Daka. “They had come from a more traditional home and wanted their style to be more fun and contemporary,” recalls Daka, who runs Merien Daka Design Group in Birmingham and attended the Illinois Institute of Art, where she received a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Before moving to Michigan, Daka worked for The Design Bar in the Chicago area, where she grew up.

Completed in June 2020, this splendid Shelby Township project features 4,600 square feet of award-winning beauty. The home, in fact, captured several honors in the 2021 Detroit Design Awards competition, including first place in the Overall Home category. With four bedrooms, four full baths, two half-baths, and a finished basement, the elegant-chic layout is quite impressive, thanks to the skills of Daka, who shared recently that she’s currently juggling eight home-design projects.

Upon entering the home, a striking foyer greets visitors, thanks to textured wallpaper and metal sculptures in the shapes of flowers that adorn a large wall. “At first we were going to do a lot of wall paneling and wainscoting, but the homeowners were second-guessing themselves, so I suggested a fun, dramatic wall covering,” Daka says. “They asked me to show them some options, and then fell in love with a brown textural wallcovering. It has a shimmer to it and it’s stunning, especially as the foyer has a 20-foot-high ceiling.” The floral wall sculptures work well with the other white items in the space, including the door and window casings. Here, it’s all about high contrast.

The kitchen, above, is all about contrasts. It features a nifty beverage niche, right, with a drop-dead backsplash.

The family spends a lot of time in the great room, and any visitor can likely tell you why. With a prominent modern chandelier, a 5-by-5-foot coffee table, and a commanding fireplace, the comfortable, inviting space turns heads. “The family loves to entertain,” Daka says, “and that means filling that huge coffee table with appetizers.” A 20-foot ceiling height adds to the drama. “It’s actually my favorite room in the home,” Daka says. “They really wanted something outside the box and were open to new ideas. That floor-to-ceiling fireplace made of stone is very special, and the entrance into the great room features custom-made divider panels painted in black gloss. It was such a wide opening, I felt it needed something. That room came together beautifully.” Daka’s team accented the side walls of the fireplace in antique mirror with brass rosettes in each corner, which added a level of sophistication to the room.

Nearby, the kitchen, replete with a snazzy coffee niche, features crisp blacks and whites. “The homeowners knew they wanted a specific white tile in the kitchen, and then I suggested we complement the white cabinetry with white countertops and the black cabinetry with black countertops. All the white cabinetry features brass hardware and all the black cabinetry features polished nickel hardware. The hardware dresses up the kitchen perfectly, and brass strapping to the hood was the ‘wow’ factor we needed in there,” Daka explains. On the range hood wall (the back wall), the team wrapped the back of both glass cabinets in the same stone as the countertop and full splash. “The homeowners are edgy, fashion-forward people, and I knew this would be nice for them.” The couple did, indeed, fall in love with the notion of adding blacks, and also embraced Daka’s suggestion for selecting brass material.

The dining room showcases Daka’s penchant for injecting color in small doses. “The couple wanted a lot of neutrals through the home, but in the dining room I was pushing to add some color, so we went with a mauve grasscloth wallcovering by Schumacher. The large painting, from Leftbank Art, was perfect for that space.” Meanwhile, the table’s side chairs, covered in a soft green velvet, pick up on the green in the painting. “I like the fun geometric pattern in the host and hostess chairs, too,” Daka says. Light, airy drapery in a Holly Hunt fabric lets the room breathe.

The dining room’s light mauve shows up again in the master bedroom sitting area, which features a balcony that overlooks the backyard. Leftbank Art and swivel chairs that are “very comfy,” Daka says, due in part to their velvety fabric, add to that area’s appeal. A velvet Phillip Jeffries wallcovering in Peacock complements the room’s cocoa tones. The adjoining bath’s chic tub was a must, Daka says, and glass tile in the shower creates a “super simple, sleek, and clean look. They wanted the master suite to feel like a boutique hotel.”

Like the master bedroom, a son’s bedroom, with dimensional wall art made of wood (from the Z Gallerie) has a balcony overlooking the backyard. As for the son’s bathroom, it features cement flooring with a unique geometric pattern. “He’s in his early 20s and my goal was to create something a little more masculine,” Daka says. Marble, waterfall-style countertops from Ciot, and cabinetry painted in Benjamin Moore’s Forest Green give a sense of unity to the look. Leather pulls with brass screws on the cabinetry add more masculinity.

A daughter’s room showcases the inhabitant’s love of art. “She’s very artistic and requested a gallery-style wall,” says Daka, who chose art from the Z Gallerie, Wendover Art, and Leftbank Art.

A glamorous stand-alone tub in the master bath is welcoming.

The second-floor study inspires work, reading, and contemplating the day’s to-do list. “The wife spends a lot of time here,” Daka says of the inviting room. Navy blue shelving, a leather desk, calming art, and a double door that leads to a little balcony create the perfect spot in which to get work done. “We made sure to create the right depth for the built-in cabinetry so it could accommodate the computer’s printer,” Daka explains.

“By being involved from the architectural phase, it enabled us to make proper adjustments,” she adds. Examples include slightly reducing room sizes to create wider, grander corridors; and  reconfiguring bathrooms to ensure specialty electrical locations. “All these minute adjustments might seem insignificant, but they really make a huge difference to the final product.”

From open gathering spaces to those offering peace and quiet, the entire home suits this family well. “They were a pleasure to work with,” Daka says. “They really trusted and believed in the process and in me.”

Of note in the study are rich hues and a handsome leather desk.

BUYER’S GUIDE

INTERIOR DESIGNER
Merien Daka, Merien Daka Design Group, Birmingham, meriendakadesigngroup.com

BATHROOM, DAUGHTER
Cabinet – River Valley Cabinets and Millwork, Vassar; Paint, Sherwin-Williams, Cityscape
Countertop – Mystery White Marble, Ciot, Troy
Faucet – Luxe Gold, Vero, Brizo, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Company, Detroit, Walled Lake
Mirror – Brass, Oversize Wall Mirror, Regina Andrew
Sconces – Vendome Single Sconce, Thomas O’ Brien, Visual Comfort
Sink – Vertical Rectangle, Kohler, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Company, Detroit, Walled Lake
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray
Window Shade – Diamond Monochrome, Kirkby Design, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy

BATHROOM, MASTER
Bathtub – Oval Evanescence Freestanding Tub, BainUltra, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Detroit, Walled Lake
Cabinet – River Valley Cabinets and Millwork, Vassar; Paint, Benjamin Moore, Balboa Mist
Countertop – Mystery White Marble, Ciot, Troy
Drapery – Crystal, Prodigy, Pollack, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Trim, Dove, Etienne Silk Greek, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – White Thassos, Ann Sacks, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Mirror – RH
Sconces – Ojai Sconce, Barbara Barry, Visual Comfort
Shower – Vetrite Tile Fuliggine, Virginia Tile Co., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Bathtub – Forest Park Table, Arteriors
Wall Paint – RH, Gravel
Window Shades – Trend, 03349-T – Alabaster, Designer Furniture Services, Michigan Design Center, Troy

The luxe master bedroom.

BATHROOM, SON
Artwork – Boyle Brown, Herringbone, Phillip Jeffries, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Countertop – Imperial Danby Marble, Ciot, Troy; Fabrication, Top Surface, Clinton Township
Faucet – Matte Black, Concord Faucet, Kingston Brass
Flooring – Cement Tile, Wow Décor Tile, Gray, Virginia Tile Co., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Mirror – Walnut Frame, Bentwood Rounded Rectangular Mirror, Rejuvenation
Picture Frames – Black Wood Frame, West Elm
Sconce – Ziyi Sconce, Bronze, Thomas O’Brien, Visual Comfort
Sink – White, Pop Vessel Sink, DXV, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Company, Detroit, Walled Lake
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray
Wall Tile – Del Ray, White Caps Gloss Beveled Subway Tile, Virginia Tile Co., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Window Shade – Barbier Pewter, Mark Alexander, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabricator, Foam N’ More, Clawson

BEDROOM, DAUGHTER
Armchair – Corbin Chair, Four Hands
Artwork (large) – Season Shift, Z Gallerie
Artwork (medium) – Ingenue IV, Leftbank Art
Artwork (small) – Midnight on the Bay, Wendover Art Group
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Lamp, Floor – Dauphine Floor Lamp, Studio VC, Visual Comfort
Pillow, Accent Fabric – Linen/Onyx, Graffito, Kelly Wearstler, Kravet, Kravet/Lee Jofa/Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Pillow, Fabrication – Foam N’ More, Clawson
Rug – Rani Rug, West Elm
Sculpture, Gold – Scoppio Sphere, Z Gallerie
Table, Occasional – Capri Accent Table, Z Gallerie
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray
Desk – Mayfair Steamer Desk, RH

BEDROOM, MASTER
Basket – Rattan Basket, CB2
Bed Frame – Modena Platform Bed, RH
Bedding – Matouk
Bench – Mansfield Hide Bench, Bernhardt, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chandelier – Hardy Chandelier, Arteriors
Chests, Bedside – Back to Square One, Caracole, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Drapery – Fabricator, Foam N’ More, Clawson; Fabric, Trend, 03349-T, Alabaster, Designer Furniture Services, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Trim, Cream, Chrysler Embroidered Border, Samuel & Sons, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Fireplace – 40-inch Landscape FullView, Modern Flames, Bourlier’s Barbecue and Fireplace, Royal Oak
Fireplace Wall Treatment – Peacock, Velvet Walls, Phillip Jeffries, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Lamp, Table – Mod Low Table, Suzanne Kasler, Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Mirror – Salon Gilt Mirror, RH
Rug – Opal, Prosperity, Stark Carpet, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Sculpture, Wall – Reeve Rattan Wall Décor, Palecek
Wall Paint – RH, Gravel

A lovely sitting area in the master suite conveys a peaceful feeling.

BEDROOM, SON
Armchair – Jules Chair, Sapphire, Four Hands
Artwork – Cubic Array, Z Gallerie
Artwork (bottom) – Follow Me 4 (Limited Edition), Z Gallerie
Artwork (top) – Z Gallerie
Bedding – Lacoste
Bed Frame – Newhall King Bed, Vintage Tobacco, Four Hands
Drapery –Tavish Flannel, Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Lamp, Bedside – Ralph Lauren
Lamp, Reading – Robert Task Floor Lamp, Lauren Ralph Lauren, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Pillow, Accent – White Woven Leather Pillow, CB2
Rug – Offset Black Stripe Cotton Rug, Four Hands
Tables, Bedside – Shagreen Bedside Table, Four Hands,
Tables, Nested – Vincent Accent Tables, Z Gallerie
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray

COFFEE BAR
Cabinet Paint – Sherwin-Williams, Black Magic
Lighting – Puck Light, Ray Lighting Center, Sterling Heights
Shelving – Clear Glass, Birmingham Glass & Mirror, Birmingham
Tile – Antique Mirror Heirloom, Devotion, Virginia Tile Company, Michigan Design Center, Troy

DINING ROOM
Artwork – Nymph’s Serenade, Leftbank Art
Candle Holders – CB2
Chandeliers – Regency Large Chandelier, Joe Nye, Visual Comfort
Chairs, Dining – Keno Bros. Dining Chairs, Theodore Alexander, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabric, Aqua, Antique Linen Velvet, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chairs, Patterned Dining – Purrr-fect Chair, Caracole, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabric, Dove, Vanderbilt Velvet, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Display Chest – Rio 4 Door Buffet, John-Richard, CAI Designs
Drapery –  Raise the Bar: Sandbar II, Holly Hunt, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Rug – Halsten, Dune, Stark Carpet, Troy
Sculptures, Circle – CB2
Sculptures, Wall – Hand-Blown Glass, Bueno Glass
Table, Dining – Noir Dining Table, Lillian August for Hickory White, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Vase, Face – Dora Maar Large Vase, Jonathan Adler
Wall Treatment – Mauve, Haruki Sisal, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy

FOYER
Candles – Petrified Wood Candle Holder, CB2
Chandelier – Folgate Grande Chandelier, Currey and Company
Flooring – Varenna Carrara Polished Porcelain Tile, Cercan Tile, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flowers, Large – Fleurdetroit, Bloomfield Township
Mirror, Gold – Custom, Bruce White Galleries, Troy
Sculpture, Wall – Dimensional White Dandelions, Phillips Collection
Table – Twister Table, Caracole, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Vase – Urn Vase, Global Views, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Treatment – Umber, Brushed Silk Vinyl, Maya Romanoff

Another unique view of the foyer.

GREAT ROOM
Armchairs – Bigelow Chairs, Caracole, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabric, Cracked Ice, Crosscut Plush, Pollack, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Bench, Leather – Cocktail Tufted Ottoman, Lee Industries, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Chandelier – Elegant Lighting, Corsica Burnished Brass, Ray Lighting Center, Sterling Heights
Fabric, Bench – Mushroom, Caballero, Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Fireplace – 60-inch Landscape FullView, Modern Flames, Bourlier’s Barbecue and Fireplace, Royal Oak
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Pillows, Accent – Dove, Fiji, Clarke & Clarke, Kravet, Kravet / Lee Jofa / Brunschwig & Fils, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Logan, Westminister Houndstooth, Holland and Sherry
Pillows, Armchair – Mocha, Lanark Plaid, Cowtan & Tout, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Mirrors, Wall – Antique Mirror with Brass Rosettes, Atelier 26
Rug – Quartz, Thimbu, Stark Carpet, Troy
Sofa – Off the Cuff Sofa, Caracole, RJ Thomas Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabrication, Gray Flannel, Opuzen, Anthony Inc.
Table, Coffee – Dove, Saunderson Shagreen Coffee Table, RH
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray
Wall Treatment – Pietra Grey Porcelain Slab,  SapianStone,  Ciot, Troy

KITCHEN
Appliances – Sub-Zero, Witbeck Home Appliance Mart, West Bloomfield
Backsplash – Calacatta Laza Quartz, MSI Detroit, Wixom; Fabrication, Top Surface, Clinton Township
Cabinetry – River Valley Cabinets and Millwork, Vassar; Paint, Sherwin-Williams, Pure White
Countertop – Calacatta Laza Quartz, MSI Detroit, Wixom; Fabrication, Top Surface, Clinton Township
Flooring – Varenna Carrara Polished Porcelain, Cercan Tile,  Michigan Design Center, Troy
Hood – River Valley Cabinets and Millwork, Vassar; Brass Strapping, Unlacquered Brass, Patra & Patra Studios, Royal Oak; Paint, Sherwin-Williams, Pure White
Island – River Valley Cabinets and Millwork, Vassar; Paint, Benjamin Moore, Black Magic
Lighting, Island – Allen Large Chandelier, Ralph Lauren, Visual Comfort
Sconce – Gild, Go Lightly Sconce, Barbara Barry, Visual Comfort
Sink – Vault Undermount Sink, Kohler, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Company, Detroit, Walled Lake
Stools, Island – Margarita Swivel Counter Stool, TCS Designs; Fabric, Mushroom, Caballero, Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, London Fog
Window Shade – Beige, Derain, Manuel Canovas, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Fabricator, Foam N’ More, Clawson

MASTER SUITE SITTING AREA
Armchairs – Naples Swivel Chair, TCS Designs; Fabric, Rose Buvard, Rivoli, Manuel Canovas, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Artwork (left) – Waves of Light, Leftbank Art
Artwork (right) – Leaf Blade, Leftbank Art
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Lamp, Floor – Mia Floor Lamp, Thomas O’Brien, Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Ottoman – Custom, Designer Furniture Service, Pontiac; Fabric, Gray, Babe’s Tweed, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy; Christian Pleating Piping, Lori Weitzner, Samuel & Sons, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Pillows, Accent – Quartz, Octavia, Schumacher, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Table, Occasional – End Quote, Caracole, RJ Thomas, Ltd., Michigan Design Center, Troy
Wall Paint – RH, Gravel

STUDY
Armchair – Kaishi Black Chair, CB2
Artwork – Modern Improvisation, Leftbank Art
Cabinets – River Valley Cabinets and Millwork, Vassar; Paint, Benjamin Moore, Old Navy
Chair, Desk – Patent Leather Chair, CB2
Chandelier – Farlane Chandelier, Thomas O’ Brien, Visual Comfort
Drapery – Teal, Lowick Plaid, Colefax and Fowler, Cowtan & Tout, Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy
Flooring – Carter Lumber, Macomb
Lighting, Cabinet – Dean Picture Light, Alexa Hampton, Visual Comfort
Rug – Sway Black Tufted Rug, CB2
Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray

ADDITIONAL PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS
Architect – Joe Vaglica, Ph.D., P.E., Gateway Engineering & Surveying, Shelby Township
Builder – A and G Building, Avery Gilaj, Bruce Township

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