You almost feel like you’re part of a verse in the holiday carol “Silver Bells” when you approach Tom and Suzanne White’s townhome on Townsend Street in Birmingham. Located within a block or two of bustling downtown, their street, during much of December, is a veritable holiday scene of passersby toting just-purchased gifts and treasures, and you can hear the snow crunching beneath their feet. It’s most certainly Christmastime in the city — and soon it will, indeed, be Christmas Day.
As for the silver bells themselves, well, you’ll likely find them on the Whites’ front-door wreath. Tucked within a circle of luxe bows and silver-dipped sticks, flowers, and ornamentation, the shiny bells hint at what’s behind the door: a serene home featuring glimmering silvers amid grays, creams, and taupes, made all the prettier with sprigs of simple greenery peeking out here and there. Even 2-year-old Cooper, the Whites’ yellow lab, looks right at home as he basks in the pretty glow of the season.
The busy couple, who typically throw two holiday parties per year (one on New Year’s Eve and one that Suzanne refers to as her girls’ gathering), makes the most of their home during the season, whether entertaining or not. “I find it very calming,” Suzanne says.
This holiday palette is a newer look for the couple, who owns Taylor & Colt in Ann Arbor and Rochester Hills (a men’s barbershop and spa).
“The Whites used to use more traditional colors — reds, golds, greens — because they lived in a more traditional home,” says interior designer Elisabeth Meda, who’s orchestrated the interior design — and the holiday décor — for a few of the Whites’ homes.
“When they moved into this townhouse, they needed to change their holiday motif to softer colors like grays, whites, soft greens, and silvers,” says Meda, a seasoned designer who also oversees the holiday decorations at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.
Meda, owner of Elisabeth Meda Interior Design of Grosse Pointe, creates a plan and then shops everywhere from English Gardens and Ralph Lauren Home to Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordlie (a fresh-cut flower wholesaler in Detroit). “Elisabeth’s always very creative and always keeps current,” Suzanne says of her designer. “She knows how to access things and how to pull it all together. And what’s nice is that we seem to always be on the same wavelength.”
“Moving closer to downtown from where the Whites lived previously (on Suffield in Birmingham) was part of the inspiration for changing their design palette, and their tastes had evolved,” Meda says. “I think they were ready to move into something more contemporary.”
In case you think contemporary equals cool, Meda says that’s not the case. “You create warmth even with cool tones by mixing the finishes and textures. If you have crystal and glimmery accents, blend them with matte items to balance the look and warm it up.” For the holidays, she suggests ornaments that are faceted, which gives the Christmas tree depth and dimension. “Although the colors may be monochromatic, mixing up dimensions, finishes, and more keeps the look transitional rather than overly contemporary,” Meda explains.
To get the look they wanted, Suzanne and Meda stayed away from too many big, shiny bulbs. “We also used twigs, vines, boxwood, et cetera throughout the home,” Meda says. Another way to add warmth, Suzanne adds, is with fabric. “Our sofa is a gray velvet; that velvet creates a luxe warmth.”
Items such as a small vase with white roses in the powder room, a tray on the kitchen counter with a charming arrangement of flowers, boxwood tucked amid shelving, and a natural wreath and greens on the exterior make everything that much more special and give the home a stunning holiday boost.
Packages at the Whites’ home also play a starring role in design. Gifts wrapped in silver-colored papers and bows (from Barbara’s Paper Bag in Birmingham) blend well with the overall look. The homeowner and designer like to place a sprig of real greenery beneath the bows.
The home’s lower level features a more natural motif. “It’s birch, twigs, and greens, and more natural-looking than on the main floor, which has silver sparkle and icy colors,” Suzanne says. In that space, an inviting wine room gets decked for yuletide celebrations and holiday toasts. A square wreath with birch accents, created by Blossoms in Birmingham, welcomes one and all. It’s also a favorite spot for the couple to enjoy one of their favorite wines, such as a Napa Valley Caymus red, Suzanne says.
“The home gets very festive; we just love having people over,” she says. “With the fire going, all the candles lit, and the mantel decorated, it’s cozy.”