Romancing the Home

Using their resourcefulness, two young attorneys are turning their first house into a lovable home // Photographs by CJ Benninger
Ashley and Collin Dickey, and son, Grayson, enjoy the welcoming front porch of their Birmingham home. The couple has been updating the 1950s bungalow little by little, including painting the exterior. // Photographs by CJ Benninger

They met at Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, fell madly in love, and not long after they married in 2015, Ashley and Collin Dickey found a sweet, move-in-ready 1951 bungalow on a quiet street in Birmingham.

The couple found the living room hutch at Pottery Barn.

With three bedrooms, three full baths, beautiful wood floors, a front bay window, plaster walls with coved ceilings, a big private backyard, and a spot for a man cave in the basement, the couple thought it was the perfect place to start a family. All it needed was some new paint, inside and out, which would be Collin’s job, and some interior design updates, which fell to Ashley.

“Honestly, it was pretty turnkey,” Ashley says. “We walked in here, it was open, we loved the flow — it’s a good flow for a small house. We absolutely loved the master bedroom upstairs, with a full bath, and when we saw the partially finished basement, we thought, ‘We could start a family here’ — we could do it all.”

A few years later, with the addition of baby Grayson, along with their boxer, Hampden, and Maine coon cat, Louie, the bungalow is a soothing picture of harmonic bliss — a romantic, light-filled house done in soft hues of cream, gray, and taupe. The couple, although very social, say they’d often rather stay in than go out, and like to light some candles, cook up a beautiful meal, and enjoy each other’s company.

The cheerful playroom will be able to accommodate Grayson as he gets older.

[caption id="attachment_50320" align="aligncenter" width="700"] COMFORT IS KEY - The well-appointed den looks out to a pretty street in downtown Northville. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]When residential lots become available in historic downtown Northville, they’re snapped up quickly. Leighanne LaMarre, interior designer and owner of Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, was delighted to be involved from the beginning of a new construction project on a coveted lot in this desirable community.[caption id="attachment_50317" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Everyone loves the bar, where you can pull up a Moe’s Home Collection stool and enjoy a cold one. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]“It was an ideal situation to have the blank canvas of new construction. I was hired alongside the architect, so I was able to collaborate with the architectural designers prior to construction, to help create a home that met the goals of the homeowner. I’ve also worked with the builder before,” LaMarre says. In addition to the designer, the homeowners hired Presley Architecture and Mike Miller Building Co., both of Northville.[caption id="attachment_50302" align="aligncenter" width="700"] The kitchen is warm and inviting, showcasing a variety of materials. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]The homeowners were very familiar with the neighborhood, as they and their young family lived down the street from the new home’s location. This proved to be convenient during the two-year project.According to the Brighton-based designer, one of the challenges of the project was the location. “The home is situated in a great area with so much to offer, next to the hustle and bustle of downtown Northville. Making the home feel private was a challenge, but one we were able to achieve.”Entertainment was an important factor for the homeowners, and they admit that was part of the draw to the location. “The owners love to have fun and entertain. The interior and outdoor spaces reflect this,” LaMarre says. “The house is built on a double lot, which helps with space and privacy. The detached garage in the backyard includes a walkout lower-level entertainment space. In the backyard, there’s a beautiful hot tub and lots of seating. The front porch also has seating.”As the designer explains, the overall goal for the 6,700-square-foot residential project was to create a Contemporary-style home that’s warm and inviting but also edgy and modern, with an emphasis on clean lines and upscale details. “A challenge with transitional and contemporary design is to make it feel warm, cozy, and comfortable — like a family lives here,” LaMarre says.Of the homeowners, LaMarre says, “She prefers contemporary and concrete, while he likes warm and welcoming. They have young children, so wear and tear was a consideration. It was a happy dialogue to create that polished but approachable look for them.”The designer says concrete (“and lots of it”) was another challenge, especially with delays due to the pandemic affecting many construction materials needed for the project. Concrete was utilized in unique ways in the home’s design, giving off a slightly industrial vibe. The main level features a concrete range hood in the kitchen and a suspended concrete sink in the powder room adjacent to the mud room. The lower-level flooring is made of polished concrete.[caption id="attachment_50308" align="aligncenter" width="700"] NAILING A STYLE - The owners prefer a Contemporary look mixed with a warm feeling — all evident in these spaces. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]Another important element to the home’s design is an artistic mix of metals, which adds visual interest throughout the house. Weldwork, a local custom builder of steel doors, fashioned distinctive metal designs for the office doors and lower-level bar area wine cellar enclosure. The house also features hardware and light fixtures with a striking blend of metal finishes, including notable hardware on the kitchen island and wet bar from Armac Martin, a luxury brass hardware company in England.LaMarre says wood also played an important role in the home’s design, with unique millwork and a mix of warm, rich wood tones and finishes. The primary wood used for the floors and doors is white oak, while the painted wood cabinetry is maple. The kitchen features white oak-stained cabinets with a contrasting island. “There’s very little crown molding in the house — the emphasis was on clean lines,” the designer says. “All interior doorways and passageways throughout the house are warm and simple, but had complicated engineering using a matte-washed, dry-rub cerused white oak.”[caption id="attachment_50311" align="aligncenter" width="700"] LET'S HEAD OUTSIDE - "The owners love to have fun and entertain. The interior and outdoor spaces reflect this,” says designer Leighanne LaMarre. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]Since there’s not a strong presence of pattern in the home’s décor, warm tones in wood, metal, and leather, as well as plush fabrics, were used to add texture and warmth. One area that boldly showcases pattern is the lower-level bar area, where geometric tile provides contrast to the bleached walnut elements and concrete floors.[caption id="attachment_50305" align="aligncenter" width="700"] QUIRKY & COOL - The lower level has plenty of unique accents like the Clare Louise Frost block-print pillows from Ann Arbor’s Cloth & Kind. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]The den adjacent to the kitchen is a favorite of both the homeowners and LaMarre. “Hands down, it’s my favorite room in the house,” LaMarre says. “It’s a smaller, more intimate space that the owners use all the time, and it’s a wonderful retreat for small gatherings. The room has a different feel; it’s very warm and relaxing.” The walls are lined with stained oak shiplap, which adds an element of coziness to the space. The comfortable seating includes a traditional Eames lounge chair.[caption id="attachment_50299" align="aligncenter" width="700"] LOVELY LANDSCAPE - Beauty beckons from the walk-out basement at this pretty Northville home. The building is the homeowners’ detached garage. - Photography by Martin Vecchio[/caption]“Projects are successful when there’s a trust relationship between the client and designer. This was especially important due to COVID-19, when quick decisions had to be made to get materials in and keep things moving, to give the clients the home they wanted,” LaMarre explains. “Despite any challenges, this home has a distinctive look and feel that was specifically designed for this family and the way they live.”BUYER’S GUIDEINTERIOR DESIGNER Leighanne LaMarre, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton, leighannelamarreinteriors.comBAR Bar Stools – Moe’s Home Collection, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Cabinetry, Wooden – Natural Walnut Finish, Emery Design|Build, Northville Countertop – Caesarstone, Pure White, Detroit Stone & Tile, Shelby Township Flooring – Concrete Lighting – Hudson Valley Lighting, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Shelves, Hanging – Natural Walnut Finish, Emery Design|Build, Northville Tile, Bar – Zia Tile Wallcovering – Phillip Jeffries, Vinyl Belgian Linen II Wine Storage – Custom Iron, Weldwork, Royal OakDEN Armchairs – Lee Industries, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Chair, Reclining – Herman Miller, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Drapery – Custom, Fabricut, Michigan Design Center, Troy Flooring – Naturally Aged Flooring, Medallion Collection Arroyo, ProSource, Wixom Lamp – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Light, Ceiling – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Pillows, Accent – Schumacher, A. Darling, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Rug – Loloi, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Sofa – Lee Industries, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Table, Coffee – Oly Studio, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Table, Occasional – Gabby, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, BrightonDINING ROOM Backsplash – Icon Starry White, 5-Studio Gazette, Beaver Tile & Stone, Michigan Design Center, Troy Cabinetry – Emery Design|Build, Northville Centerpiece – Carved Teak Root, Arteriors, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Chairs, Dining Host – Hickory Chair, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Chairs, Dining Side – Vanguard Furniture, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Chandelier – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Countertop – Caesarstone, Mike Miller Building Co., Northville Faucet – California Faucets, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Walled Lake Flooring – Medallion Collection Arroyo, Naturally Aged Flooring, ProSource, Wixom Rug – Endless Knot, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Table, Dining – Vanguard Furniture, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly LaceKITCHEN Cabinetry – Emery Design|Build, Northville Countertop – Caesarstone Faucet – California Faucets, Carbon, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Walled Lake Flooring – Medallion Collection Arroyo, Naturally Aged Flooring, ProSource, Wixom Hardware, Cabinet (Blue) – Armac Martin, Cloth & Kind, Ann Arbor Hardware, Cabinet (Brown) – Top Knobs, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Hood – Custom, Origins Concrete Design, Ferndale Lamp – Regina Andrew, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Lighting, Bar – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Sink – Blanco, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Walled Lake Stove – Wolf Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly LaceLAUNDRY ROOM Cabinetry – Emery Design|Build, Northville Door, Sliding – TruStile, Mans Lumber & Millwork, Canton; Color, Benjamin Moore, Cheating Heart Flooring – Ice White Matte Trapezium, WowUSA, Virginia Tile, Farmington Hills Light, Ceiling – Hudson Valley, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Shelves – Emery Design|Build, Northville Wall-covering – Phillip Jeffries, Suit Yourself, Ready Wear Grey Window Treatment – Schumacher, Andromeda, Smoke, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, BrightonLOWER LEVEL Armchairs, Swivel – Vanguard Furniture, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton; Fabric, Stroheim, Cavell Check, Moondust Chests, Display – Made Goods, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Flooring – Concrete Lights, Ceiling – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Ottoman, Cocktail – Vanguard Furniture, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Pillows, Sofa – Custom, Clare Louise Frost, Block Print in Black Domino, Cloth & Kind, Ann Arbor Rug – Milliken, Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland Sofa (right) – Lee Industries, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Sofa 2 – Vanguard Furniture, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Stools – Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Table, Display – Vanguard Furniture, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace Wall Treatment, Marble – Calacatta Gold Porcelain Slab, Envi, Detroit Stone & Tile, Shelby Township Window Treatments – Fabricut, Michigan Design Center, TroyMUD ROOM Cabinetry – Emery Design|Build, Northville Flooring – Love Affairs Concrete Light Grey Hexagon, WowUSA, Virginia Tile, Farmington Hills Hardware, Cabinet – Top Knobs, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Pillows, Accent – Loloi, Lee Industries, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Runner – Summer Classics, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace Window Seat Cushion – Custom, Schumacher, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Window Shade, Fabric – Schumacher, Fauna, Natural, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, BrightonOFFICE Chair, Desk – Herman Miller, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Desk – Hickory Chair, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Flooring – Medallion Collection Arroyo, Naturally Aged Flooring, ProSource, Wixom Lighting, Shelf – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Rug – Stark Carpet, Troy Shelving, Built-in – Emery Design|Build, Northville Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Midnight BluePATIO Chairs – Lillian August for Hickory White, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Fan – Monte Carlo, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Ottoman – Made Goods, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Rug – Dash + Albert, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Sofa – Southern Home, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Table, Patio – Summer Classics, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Table, Stone Coffee – Currey & Co., Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, BrightonPOWDER ROOM Flooring – Love Affairs Concrete Light Grey Hexagon, WowUSA, Virginia Tile, Farmington Hills Light – Visual Comfort, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Mirror – Renwil, Leighanne LaMarre Interiors, Brighton Sink – Custom, Origins Concrete Design, Ferndale Tile, Wall – Delray White Caps Subway Tile, Ceramic Tiles International, Virginia Tile, Farmington Hills Towel Bar – Kohler, Matte Black, Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Walled Lake Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly LaceText by Tracy Donohue, Photography by Martin Vecchio

Ashley, whose penchant for organization and interior design started at an early age, had already helped friends stage their homes for selling, and also designed Collin’s law office. She saw their new home as her own little castle, and was ready to appoint it with exquisite treasures from antiques shops and furnishings donated by relatives, all of which she has artfully arranged, placed, or hung — touches like vintage shelves, paintings, antique fern prints from Ireland, and pretty rugs with simple patterns that echo the walls’ ethereal color scheme.

It’s modern farmhouse style with elegant touches, including fresh flowers and lit candles, and it’s never messy. “Clutter is not in our vocabulary,” Ashley says.

“Our main pieces of furniture, like the dining room table and trunk in the living room, are family antiques that I refurbished,” says homeowner Ashley Dickey. “The living room couch and armchairs are from a store that’s no longer in business, unfortunately, because the quality is outstanding and so durable, especially with a baby and a dog.”

“We didn’t have much, and so relatives said, ‘Here’s Grandma’s table and here’s an old trunk.’ Almost every piece in here has a story, and I love mixing old with new,” says Ashley, who has always been fascinated by anything old. “If we’re traveling anywhere on the road and we pass an antiques store, I have to go in.”

She points to a shutter over the fireplace. “It’s an antique that I refinished. You just put a little rustic spin on things and paint them, and kind of give them new life.”

Newer pieces like the rugs, light fixtures, and accessories came from Pottery Barn and West Elm, among other stores.

Left: A galley-style kitchen, which previously had yellow walls, gets plenty of light. The couple added stainless steel appliances and will paint the cabinets this spring. Right: The antique prints in the dining room are from Ireland.

“I love dimmer switches,” she says, motioning to her dining-room candelabra chandelier with Edison bulbs that lend a particularly romantic vibe. Collin installed new light fixtures in each room — something he taught himself, and mastered.

“One of my favorite spaces is our living room,” Collin says. “It’s the heart of our home and, with a natural fireplace and large bay windows, it’s light, bright, and comfortable. This is where we spend most of our time together, and enjoy entertaining family and friends.

Ashley chose Behr’s Charismatic Blue paint for the master bedroom’s accent wall.

“My second favorite room is the master bedroom. It’s a large space that’s uncluttered and bright, which creates a calm and peaceful feeling. On the weekends we enjoy lounging in bed with the whole family, dog and cat included.”

“The biggest thing is that it was all inexpensive,” Ashley adds. “We’re both lawyers, just out of school, just married, and on a strict budget.”

As a result, they stay home a lot (often hosting gatherings) — and that’s just fine with this couple. They can make their favorite pasta dishes in the well-equipped kitchen, relax by the fire in their living room, and sing baby Grayson to sleep in his beautiful nursery.

Baby Grayson’s nursery features tranquil colors that ensure sweet dreams. His tidy nursery is both functional and charming.

They love the location, which boasts a great school system; walkable streets; shopping;  restaurants like Griffin Claw, Big Rock Chophouse, the Whistle Stop  Diner, and Cannelle Patisserie; a park with a playground at the end of the street; and friends with kids of their own nearby.

“Finding this was really a dream come true,” Ashley says. “It’s charming, quaint, and you walk in and it feels welcoming.”

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