Mid-Century Revival: Family-Friendly Finishes

This Ann Arbor renovation takes a modern classic to new heights
UPDATED MARVEL Originally built by renowned architect David Osler, the home, recently renovated by Detroit-based designer Patrick Thompson, has sweeping views of the property thanks to large windows.

Nestled in the woods along the Huron River, this freshly renovated home was designed by architect David Osler and built in 1967 on two acres in Ann Arbor. Post-renovation, it suits its current owners and respects its roots. “An addition in the late 1990s made it almost double in size. You can see where it stops and starts,” says Patrick Thompson, principal of Patrick Thompson Design in Detroit, about the elegant residence his firm revived in the Barton Hills neighborhood he describes as a “Mid-century Modern mecca.”

Thompson did his homework on Osler, a prominent Ann Arbor architect who also did commercial work. Known for residential projects that reflected the personalities of his clients and an “elegant conservative” aesthetic, he saw a house as a series of experiences and spaces that was unique to the lot on which it stood. Voluminous rooms that combine public areas with places to retreat kept his clients’ privacy in mind.

The designer says he felt a personal connection to the architect and his original vision. “I definitely tapped into his philosophy, which happened very naturally with the needs and wish lists of the clients, as well,” Thompson says. “The house had great bones. Even with the addition, we didn’t change too much of the shape. There were some ’90s addition spaces that were compartmentalized, and we removed all of that to return the house to the Osler way.”

His clients — a family of six — came from a cozy, traditional house. “They wanted to find a way to create a warm and inviting home with plenty of social places for entertaining, but privacy too. Everyone has their own retreat, but there are also public spots for entertaining. The owners wanted their kids to be able to do homework anywhere in the house and be comfortable,” he explains.

The sun moves throughout the day, and thanks to all of the home’s expansive windows, family members tend to follow. “We were careful to honor the modern bones of the home and incorporate Japanese elements, as well,” the designer says.

“The wife visited Japan as a child and wanted to include some Japanese sensibilities, so it wasn’t all Mid-century Modern.”

RELAXED LUXURY – Above and bottom right: Creating social spaces with a warm and inviting nature was a top priority for the family. COZY CORNERS – Bottom left: “The owners wanted their kids to be able to do homework anywhere in the house and be comfortable,” the designer, Patrick Thompson, says. This reading nook is one of many comfy niches.

The extensive project, which involved taking the house down to the frame, experienced delays during the pandemic. Another challenge was updating the home to comfortably fit six without changing the footprint, while still honoring Osler’s intent. In the end, the warmth of the interiors turned out better than expected. “Cozy was the word that kept coming to mind,” Thompson says. “With a 6,000-square-foot house that has a lot of glass, it also has a comfortable, inviting nature. The home is elegant and beautiful without being too precious.”

Rift-cut white oak appears on the floors and walls, along with some ceilings. Built-ins that highlight artifacts collected during the family’s travels add character to the sunken parlor, where a built-in rust-colored lounge creates a cozy nook. An elevated music room was planned around the piano. Furnishings throughout the house combine custom and new pieces, as well as vintage finds.

SEATING FOR ALL – Natural materials were key in this spacious kitchen.

A custom fireplace that features textured cast concrete and white oak grounds the dining room, which includes a lounge area with vintage sheepskin chairs. “It’s a spot where eight people can sit at the dining table and two can be socializing by the fireplace. It’s a really cozy area that allows perfect interaction between the two spaces,” Thompson says.

The family spends a lot of time in the open-plan kitchen, where a substantial island is topped with natural marble. “It was really important to have as many natural materials as possible,” Thompson adds. Additional seating comes from a classic Tulip table that anchors a corner with sweeping views of the property.

A built-in bar and beverage center makes the family room a special destination, while another standout in the stunning home would have to be the powder room. “The whole house is light and airy, so we went a little moody in (the powder room) with a William Morris wallcovering,” the designer says. “It’s definitely a conversation piece.”

RETRO VIBES – Left: A white oak vanity and shapely vintage chair are just a few of the stunning elements within the luxurious primary bath. Right: Bold and colorful accents and cozy seating make this lighted cove a must for reading.

Tucked below the architectural staircase, a cozy reading nook offers a place to do homework. “It’s a really beautiful spot to be with the reading light at night, and lots of light during the day,” Thompson says. “All the spots are private, but within earshot of others.” On the lower level, a bunk area for the kids includes a knotted ottoman that provides a fun perch.

Custom elements also grace the private spaces — like the bed frame and the cabinetry in the primary suite, where the luxurious bathroom incorporates a natural stone counter and handmade ceramic tiles that complement a white oak vanity and shapely vintage chair. The soaking tub with a floor-mounted faucet is a real showstopper.

For this project, Thompson says his clients were more like partners. “The entire family, including the kids, had input on their spaces. At design meetings, the collaboration sometimes had the six of them,” he recalls. “The home was designed by committee, but a well-informed committee. They put their trust in us and we in them.”

WARM AND INVITING – Even with all the large expanses of glass, the 6,000-square-foot home retains its comfortable and welcoming nature.


Patrick Thompson, Patrick Thompson Design, Detroit, patrickthompsondesign.com

Chair – Sarah Sherman Samuel, Lulu and Georgia
Countertop – Ciot, Troy
Flooring – Porcelanosa
Mirror – Gubi
Sconces – Kelly Wearstler, Visual Comfort
Tile, Backsplash – Heath Ceramics
Vanity – Thompson Millworks, Remus

Cabinetry – Braam’s Custom Cabinets
Chairs – Gubi
Countertops – Ciot, Troy
Faucet – Delta, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Ann Arbor
Flooring – Owens Flooring, ProSource, Romulus
Lighting (Over Table) – Louis Poulsen, Design Within Reach
Shelf – Braam’s Custom Cabinets
Stools, Counter – Very Wood, Haute Living
Tile, Backsplash – Heath Ceramics
Range – Thermador, Big George’s Home Appliance Mart, Ann Arbor
Refrigerator – Sub-Zero, Big George’s Home Appliance Mart, Ann Arbor
Table – Knoll, Design Within Reach
Wall Oven – Wolf, Big George’s Home Appliance Mart, Ann Arbor
Windows – Marvin Windows & Doors

Chairs and Ottoman – &Tradition, A+R
Fireplace Material – Fluted Concrete Wall and Solid Concrete Hearth, Andrew Ward, Line Studio Detroit, St. Clair Shores; Wood Paneling, Thompson Millworks, Remus
Flooring – Owens Flooring, ProSource, Romulus
Light, Ceiling – Lindsey Adelman Studio
Light, Wall – Apparatus Studio
Rug – Jaipur Living
Windows, Floor to Ceiling – Marvin Windows & Doors
Wood Paneling – Thompson Millworks, Remus

Bench – Carl Hansen & Søn
Chairs, Accent – Herman Miller, MarxModa, Detroit; Fabric, Geiger Textiles, MarxModa, Detroit
Rug – Stark, Troy
Sofa (White) – Boffi, DePadova; Fabric, Theo
Table, Glass – Asplund
Table, Side – Audo Copenhagen, Design Within Reach
Windows – Marvin Windows & Doors
Wood Paneling – Thompson Millworks, Remus

Art/Sculptures – Curated and Sourced by Homeowner and Joe Posch
Chairs (White) – &Tradition, A+R
Flooring – Owens Flooring, ProSource, Romulus
Lamps – Gubi, Rouse Home
Rug – Jaipur Living
Sofa – Thompson Millworks, Remus; Upholstery, Foam N’ More, Clawson; Fabric, Kravet
Tables – SSS Atelier
Table (Behind Sofa) – Thompson Millworks, Remus
Wood Paneling – Thompson Millworks, Remus

Art/Sculptures – Curated and Sourced by Homeowner and Joe Posch
Wood, Built-In – Thompson Millworks, Remus
Flooring – Owens Flooring, ProSource, Romulus
Lamp, Reading – Cedar and Moss
Pouf – Knots Studio
Rug – Sarah Sherman Samuel, Lulu and Georgia
Table, Accent – Design Within Reach

Flooring – Owens Flooring, ProSource, Romulus
Lamp, Reading – Cedar and Moss
Pouf – Knots Studio
Seat, Built-In – Thompson Millworks, Remus; Upholstery, Morris & Co.
Stairs and Railing – Viewrail

Siding Materials – Long Board
Stone on Wall – Existing
Windows – Marvin Windows & Doors