Living Their Best Life

This snowbird condominium in Northville gets a big refresh // Photography by Ingrid Frankovics
LIFE-CHANGING The fabulous kitchen in all its glory.

When a condominium in the Country Club Village complex in Northville went up for sale, it didn’t take long for a couple to submit an offer on the Ranch-style, stand-alone residence. The two, who have grown children and grandchildren, had been living in the development for years and loved the area, but were looking to start over with a fresh layout and look.

Enter Northville-based Grace This Space Interiors, a design firm that also helps homeowners organize their houses and relocate. Says owner Orna Fathers: “(The condo) needed updating; there was a lot of salmon-pink carpet, pink tile around the fireplace, and outdated columns. Plus, it wasn’t practical.”

Fathers kept both function and form top of mind when presenting her ideas to the owners, who spend half the year in Florida and consider their Northville condominium a “summer home.” Fathers started working on the makeover project in 2020 and completed it in May of 2022, and most of the overhaul was done while the snowbirds were at their Sunshine State home. “It’s nice to do the dirty work while clients are gone,” Fathers acknowledges. “Once we were done, they could move right in.”

Besides new flooring, furnishings, millwork, paint, appliances, and fixtures, Fathers and her team made several layout adjustments. “We created an entryway by boxing in an open stairway that led to the basement,” she says. “That allowed us to create an accent wall that we painted Azure blue.”

The team also closed off an open sunroom and added French doors and a custom arched window on a wall between the living room and the four-season room. “The clients wanted to use that sunroom as their TV room,” explains Fathers, who had special window treatments installed so that when the couple is watching television, they don’t get glare on the screen.

Bathrooms also were overhauled. “When we were looking at bathroom plans, the husband said the key to a happy, long marriage is giving your wife her own bathroom. And that’s what we did. Now, we all jokingly refer to it as the queen’s bathroom.” It’s located right off the bedroom, while the husband’s bath is just down the hall. “It worked out well because I was truly able to give her what she wanted and provide a more masculine look, with darker colors, for him,” Fathers says.

The primary bathroom (for the woman of the home) is airy and bright, and features a light fixture from Visual Comfort that evokes a regal feel. Pre-renovation, the space had carpeting and needed a refresh. Plenty of space was a bonus (below).

The “queen’s” space is airy and bright and features a light fixture from Visual Comfort that evokes a regal feel. “This fixture (the Renwick Large Sphere Chandelier) serves as a captivating statement piece, featuring multiple layers of crystals that refract light from the bay windows beautifully. It not only provides ample illumination for larger spaces, but also adds a touch of luxury and sophistication,” the designer says. To complement this grand centerpiece, the team incorporated Lloyd large, jeweled sconces, also by Visual Comfort, above each mirror. “They feature jeweled accents and crystal details that contribute to their opulent appearance, adding another layer of luxury,” Fathers says. The shower tile is Stellar (from Virginia Tile), in Wedgewood, with a crackled effect. “We used the 3-by-9-inch and created an accent feature using the trestle field tile.”

The shower tile is Stellar (from Virginia Tile), in Wedgewood, with a crackled effect. “We used the 3-by-9-inch tiles and created an accent feature using the trestle field tile,” says designer Orna Fathers.

The husband’s room has dark-blue tiles (Stellar, Azure gloss) that run to the ceiling, a rustic wood floating vanity, and matte black elements.

Other changes included creating a customized marble surround for the fireplace (cut in one piece!) and adding a head-turning fireplace accent wall. “The original wall had these open ledges, like a cat run,” Fathers recalls, “so we filled it in and had drywall installed, and then added millwork.” She finished it off with a beautiful blue paint.

The team closed off an open sunroom and added French doors and a custom arched window on a wall between the living room and the four-season room. A before photo shows the former layout (below).

The lower-level bathroom was added (at this time, too) to accommodate additional guests and be a convenient post-exercise bathroom. It showcases mosaic with a modern twist on the café-style mosaic glass tiles that are soft underfoot and evoke a vintage charm.

Fathers recreated the kitchen layout, putting the oven (the homeowners asked for a wall oven) near the refrigerator and installing the microwave in the island. “That opened it up more,” the designer says. She also covered the dishwasher with a panel that blends with the cabinetry and makes the space feel larger. “The heavier items are together now, and when you enter the house from the garage, you look straight into the living room and out to the sunroom.” The hand-painted kitchen backsplash tile (Pratt + Larson) depicts a pretty floral pattern in blues and light yellows. The custom-made element is dimensional and brings the outdoors in, Fathers explains. “We chose the colors of the flowers and the design, so it’s made just for this space,” she says. The repeating blue in the backsplash picks up on the blue of the kitchen island and blue hues in other areas of the home. “The wife loves blues, especially Wedgwood blue.”

The new laundry room is inviting. The homeowner was sold on the cheerful butterfly wallpaper immediately.
The former space was stark and utilitarian, with phosphorescent overhead lighting.

The former laundry room was stark, with phosphorescent overhead lighting. “It was a boring utility space where you wouldn’t want to spend time,” the designer says, so she added cheerful blue cabinetry and colorful wallpaper with various blues, bringing in natural elements. “We talked about it being such a boring space, and why not make it a fun and bring it to life? The homeowner was sold right away when she saw the butterfly wallpaper.” Although the lighting is quite delicate, it’s perfect for a room of that size. “You can see well, but the fixture doesn’t overwhelm the small space,” Fathers says. The hand-cut glass light fixture (Alec from Visual comfort) adds to the serene, calm atmosphere in the room. “The under-cabinet lighting offers more practical and functional, brighter light,” Fathers explains.

Once the couple had lived in the renovated home for a while, the husband asked Fathers if she could finish the remaining large storage and utility part of the basement behind the finished gym/bathroom area. After the homeowners had family over for a number of events, they sensed it would be a good idea to finish the basement entirely, especially for watching football games.

As of this issue’s press time, the team was wrapping up the installation of a bar, a lounge, and two televisions.

“These clients wanted to have a warm space — a house that had a summer house feel and ambience. I think we captured that, but also kept it practical for entertaining and ease of living,” Fathers says. “It’s perfect for snowbirds.”

Designer Orna Fathers takes a well-deserved moment to enjoy the living room in a Northville condo she updated. The new fireplace-surround and millwork are head-turners.

Practical & Pretty

Smart tips on making the most of your home

  1. IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION: The husband’s bathroom is on the smaller side, but by installing a floating vanity you feel as if there’s more space, Orna Fathers says. “Your eye can see all the way back to the wall and your feet have more space, as they can go beneath it.”
  2. FLOORED WITH SMART IDEAS: Fathers selected a luxury vinyl tile, Coretec, that has a few tones in it, so it picks up on furniture colors. “It has warm browns but some variations in it, too, like black,” she says. The homeowners’ black dining table, as well as the driftwood-colored table in the kitchen, pick up on colors in the flooring.
  3. EQUAL FOOTING: Fathers didn’t change the layout of the couple’s bathrooms but made the showers level with the floor for a convenient, curbless shower. “This involves lowering, waterproofing, and reinforcing the subfloor,” she says. “This was done to improve accessibility, create a seamless look, and be more functional as it’s easier to maintain.”
  4. SOFFIT BE GONE: The designer opted to have the husband’s bathroom soffit removed. “Soffits feel like they bring the ceiling down, which can close a space in and make it feel smaller,” she notes.
  5. CUE THE COLOR: No color is outdated, Fathers says; it just depends on what you put with the color. All of the blues the homeowner wanted in the cabinetry, island, tile, and other areas also provide a nice flow.
  6. ADDED STORAGE: Fathers selected 15-inch-deep cabinets in the laundry room (most are usually 12 inches). “There’s more room for storing items and the cabinets stick out a bit more, so they’re easier to reach.”
  7. IN WITH THE OUTLETS: An outlet concealed in a closet behind the laundry room door serves as a wall-mount vacuum charging station and storage for other cleaning supplies.

— MS