Trading Places

Just about everybody, at one time or another, experiences buyer’s remorse. But Ed Koza’s mistake was a real humdinger.
Trading Places - Bar
Design on Tap – Homeowner Ed Koza’s lower-level lounge’s quartz bar top, stacked walls, and copper-penny backsplash shimmer under multilayered LED lighting. The room’s wine-barrel motif is echoed in the ceiling, whose stave-like beams follow the curvaceous wood floor beneath. The room’s color scheme was dictated by the hues of the Persian rug.

Just about everybody, at one time or another, experiences buyer’s remorse. But Ed Koza’s mistake was a real humdinger. Not long after settling into a palatial and very traditional French Country-style house in Northville, he realized he needed to move.

“I knew six months after the purchase that it wasn’t the house for me,” the Brighton businessman confesses. Essentially, it was two stories and felt formal for his tastes, despite the assistance of an interior designer and a houseful of lovely furnishings to warm things up in the large-scale space.

Trading Places - Collages
Masculine Motif – The dining room, a burlap and wrought iron chandelier, suspended from a grooved pine ceiling, lights up original art, an embossed-leather-clad buffet, Baker chairs, and a trestle table. A wall was added to the original design to separate the adjacent three-season room, which looks out to a marsh and river. The master bedroom features sconces by Barbara Barry,  a hair-on-hide rug, and a leather bench. The large painting is by Dolan Geiman, whose mixed-media work graces walls throughout the house.

Koza had originally looked at an Arts-and-Crafts-style home that he loved, but the timing for the purchase didn’t work, so he settled on the aforementioned chateau. The problem was, he couldn’t stop thinking about that first house, which he had really admired — it offered a more casual, elegantly masculine style with its straight lines; rich, natural materials; and solid craftsmanship.

So he cut his losses, put his house on the market, found a beautiful setting not far from his family’s company, H.H. Barnum, and set out to build something more functional, more relaxed, and better suited to his lifestyle.

Trading Places - Collage 2
Lighting Up – A tortoise shell was repurposed as an artistically illuminating lamp. The great room’s natural-stone fireplace features architect Douglas Madaras’ horizontal box with hand-finished copper mesh and mahogany granite that resembles leather. Stained leaded-glass panels define the foyer. The front door, and all doors throughout, are solid wood, stained and finished on-site, and clad with bronze hardware.

1: Nothing says nostalgia quite like BIG CHILL’s Original Size Retro Fridge, shown in Water Blue (additional custom colors available), $3,795, bigchill.com2: Brighten up your bed or sofa with the Crewel Overlapping Shapes Pillow Cover from WEST ELM, $40, West Elm, Birmingham, westelm.com3: Making fresh-squeezed juice is a breeze with the 1950s retro-style SMEG Electric Juicer, $225, Williams-Sonoma, Troy, williams-sonoma.com4: AERIN’s Footed Deco Bowls add a dash of retro flair to any space, from $195-$495, Neiman Marcus, Troy,, aerin.com5: Upholstered in Cabaret velvet with gold finishes, the Eden Rock Armchair by ROCHE BOBOIS offers comfort and timeless appeal, starting from $3,190, Roche Bobois, Birmingham, rochebobois.com6: CRATE & BARREL’s Riesco Mid-century Modern Rug boasts a vibrant geometric pattern, $699 (6 x 9), Crate & Barrel, Novi, crateandbarrel.com7: The Mid-century Modern Smart Bedside Table by THEODORE ALEXANDER features a concealed power management strip, $2,580, Theodore Alexander, Michigan Design Center, Troy,,

The 8,000-square-foot home is the same scale as Koza’s previous dwelling, but rather than two stories, it’s a sprawling ranch that offers bucolic views from every window — including a marsh and a stream that teem with flora and fauna. Luckily, the same interior designer, Kathleen McKay, owner of Kathleen Design, was able to repurpose many of the previous home’s furnishings for the new home, recouping some of Koza’s losses — but, more importantly, creating exactly what he longed for.

“Ed has very good taste and a good eye for color,” the designer says. “In the end, he followed his heart’s desire.”

Trading Places - Collage 3
In the media room, the triptych is an original photo of a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed staircase in a Chicago bank lobby. Deep mahogany paint sets off the Restoration Hardware sectional and modern industrial table. The master spa looks out at nature, while creature comforts abound inside, including a separate shower room with dual heads in gunmetal bronze, and an adjoining closet suite with opaque glass windows.

The finished product — with its beamed ceilings, handsome arches, wrought iron railings, warm lighting, original artwork, a striking collection of handmade Persian rugs, and even a private ADA-approved suite for his 90-year-old mom, should she want to stay there permanently — is a collaboration between builder Vantage Construction Co. and designer McKay, both Brighton-based, and interior architect Douglas Madaras of Ann Arbor’s Madaras Design Ltd. The team took four months to refine the design and another year to build the house, and yet another year for McKay to procure and curate the fine details.

“There’s a collective attitude to a house. It takes time to find its own personality,” McKay explains. “The pieces should tell stories about the client and what he really loves.”

Fortunately, Koza was a patient man. And now he’s a happy man, too. “It turned out better than I ever expected,” he says.

Trading Places - Collage 4
Crocodile chair was designed by Kathleen McKay. Pennies were used for the bar backsplash and wine room floor, made by Douglas Madaras.

Guests enter the great room through massive front doors, and the pleasant aroma of freshly hewn wood from the doors, the ceiling, and the floors sends soothing Up North vibes to the brain. A towering fireplace with a large, flat-screen TV meets the soaring beamed ceiling, which is adorned with a unique iron and i-beam pattern created by Madaras to bring a human scale to the room. Velvety sofas, big, comfy chairs covered in crocodile, a couple of horsehair benches, a patterned Persian rug, and artful lamps and objects bring the eyes back down to earth. To the right is the media room, with a sumptuous sectional sofa, and all the way down to the left is a covered three-season porch whose floor slats allow air to flow through mosquito netting. In between, the kitchen and dining room offer grand, sumptuous spaces to commune and cook, and the bedrooms and spa-like bathrooms at the front of either end of the home afford zen-like privacy and serenity.

Trading Places - Collage 5
Interior designer Kathleen McKay and homeowner Ed Koza in front of the bar. An Edison light sconce from Restoration Hardware illuminates the powder room’s leather. Smoked glass tile in the master shower.

Heading down the circular stairway to the lower level, visitors discover that the great hall features a sophisticated wine-barrel motif and leads to a Madaras-designed lounge area, complete with a wet bar and a patio with a copper fire pit outside. On the other side of the hall is a full-size gym that’s nearly as large as a commercial venture, along with two more bedrooms with adjoining baths.

Trading Places - Collage 6
The place setting is from designer Kathleen McKay’s online retail shop, The copper mug was a housewarming gift meant for creating one of the homeowner’s favorite beverages: the Moscow Mule. A Casafina tablescape from McKay’s

Koza, who is single, sees this as the perfect place for his out-of-town niece and three nephews to gather for holidays and other occasions. He also envisions throwing cooking parties upstairs.

The homeowner finally lives in the place of his dreams — and it’s way better than he ever imagined.

Trading Places - Lounge
The lounge’s copper pipe and a kickplate  with metal rivets, and a scraped hickory-look tile