In anticipation of the Junior League of Detroit’s most recent Designers’ Show House (the Bingley Fales House in Indian Village), the Georgian-style mansion was dressed to the nines by local talent. Here are a few spaces that put black in the spotlight.
Setting the Stage
Loretta Crenshaw, principal at Crenshaw and Associates in Detroit, created a deluxe guest room that she called “Chinoiserie Chic.” A dark gray hue by Benjamin Moore makes a statement on the walls, alongside black and white details and colorful accents like yellow and turquoise.
Chinoiserie décor includes an ornamental mirror and patterned pillows on the beds and settees, to establish a lavish atmosphere. “I like the drama of black,” Crenshaw says. “We use it frequently. That was my thought for this bedroom, which was the second (Show House) one we’ve done in black and white. Some people would be hesitant with black,” she adds, “but everything else in a room then pops.”
Custom headboards were layered with solid elements and the Chinoiserie fabric on the accent pillows, which was the starting point for the room.
Black trim kicks up the window treatments and the bedding. “With a Show House, you can push the envelope,” Crenshaw says. “There’s no resistance, so you can be very creative.”
You can also go with darker tones, she says. “Like a lady’s beautiful black dress, you can’t go wrong. (Black is) flattering and somewhat fearless. It can enhance your space and make it come alive. It’s very dramatic.”
Black also made its way around to the back parlor, which was styled by lead designer Mary Baude and senior designer Amanda Bell of Whitetail Farm in Dexter. “I love the mix,” Bell says. “The white walls (Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore) pulled out the black details in the bay window. We thought it would be awesome to bring out that architecture.” A buffalo head above the mantel provides a focal point for the room, while a black marble end table supports a leather Chesterfield sofa. “Black doesn’t have to be static,” Bell explains. “The marble end table has veining in it that adds to the contrast in the room.”
Further distinction comes from gray chairs with cream stripes and a colorful rug that blends black with lighter shades (as do the leather stools by the fireplace). Decorative black baskets pop atop a white bookcase. “It was a good place to show how to contrast black with white, and balance everything out,” Bell says.
Black sconces stand out among other materials, like concrete and brass. “When you have balance and contrast, each piece gets its focus,” she explains.
“We love black and we like to pepper it into different areas, but you can also add it through your choice of accessories, so you don’t have to make a big commitment.”
Tried and True
Thanks to KLK Design, based in Petoskey, the vestibule made a great first impression. The high-gloss black wainscoting, millwork, and casing set the tone for the historic home, while the ceiling sports a matte black (both Jet Black by Benjamin Moore; one satin and one flat).
“Black gloss adds a reflective value that almost has a tendency to brighten a space. Flat black can look like velvet,” Kathryn L. Kircher, design principal, says.
While alterations could be made to existing paint colors, stained features like the wood door had to remain the same. Kircher went all out with a gorgeous floral mural wall covering that has a traditional motif — with a twist. “The blown-out scale has a newness that’s refreshing,” she says.
A unique chandelier with gilded gold and crystal accents illuminates the space. As Kircher explains, lighting and reflective values are two of the most important considerations to make with black when selecting the level of drama.
“Black is so timeless,” she says. “People think right now it’s so trendy, but it’s a timeless neutral that can work in so many different directions.”
It certainly worked wonders here. “We wanted the vestibule to be this space that was a safe yet dramatic transition to move into all the different spaces,” Kircher says.
Note: The Junior League of Detroit Show House tours are held every other year; the next one will be in September 2022. The team is looking for a suitable site. Contact the League at jldetroit.org with suggestions or to get more information.