World Chic

This Grosse Pointe Farms kitchen and bath evoke a Cali- Cape Town feel | Photography by Beth Singer
EXOTIC NUANCES In the Elleys’ kitchen, Colonial Africa accents include stained dark windows and natural rattan shades.

The silver lining of what was a catastrophic water issue at a Grosse Pointe Farms home that occurred while homeowners Alexis and Jed Elley were traveling is that the Elleys were able to redo their entire home.

“We came home to Niagara Falls in our house,” says Alexis, an interior designer who owns Textures Design. “The master bath sprung a leak and the water ran for anywhere from 10 days to two weeks. The ceiling was on the floor; you could see from the attic to the basement.”

Even though the couple is quick to admit they loved the home in its pre-leak days, they now really appreciate it, thanks to an updated, open floor plan that works efficiently for their family, which includes two young children. It also features more of Alexis’ design stamp, with notable influences from San Francisco and Cape Town, South Africa — places she and her husband have lived.

“I like natural, and living your life indoors and outdoors — marrying the two,” Alexis explains. “Being outdoors in nature is important to me.” (Alexis is one of several designers who will be working on this year’s Junior League of Detroit Showhouse, which will be open May 10-June 7.)

PATTERN PLAY The Anna French wallpaper’s flowers look as if they were hand-painted. Hunter Douglas blinds complement the paper.

“I want you to come in and feel relaxed. I wanted it cool and chic.”

— Alexis Elley

Some of the changes in the master bath included creating a privacy stall for the toilet, adding a window (“so we can see the lake,” Alexis says), choosing 24-inch by 24-inch porcelain tiles (“I like the fluid, slab look,” she adds), removing a Jacuzzi, and installing a freestanding double-slipper soaking tub. She hired J.W. Morris Kitchen & Bath (now located in Harbor Springs) to install Grabill cabinetry. A floral wallpaper “softens” the mood, she says, while satin gold Newport brass fixtures round out the space. “It’s elegant and fresh, with clean lines,” she says.

One of the couple’s favorite elements is the wallpaper, which Alexis chose first. “I love the look of hand-painted wallpaper, but wasn’t willing to invest in that, considering what we went through,” she says. She settled on an Anna French pattern that features flowers that look as if they were hand-painted. “From the wallpaper, I pulled out that opalescent sheen for the window treatment (Hunter Douglas), which features natural materials.” A Restoration Hardware table complements the look. As for the shower, it has a handy bench and two shower heads (one is handheld). “The kids love this room; they always want to come in,” Alexis says with a laugh.

ORGANIC DINING More natural touches bedeck the Elleys’ dining space, including organic shapes and materials, from the window treatments to the wall art.

To create a kitchen that’s both practical and pretty, the homeowners decided to take down a wall between the kitchen and dining room, and expand the kitchen. “I didn’t need a formal dining room,” Alexis says. They also created a larger island to accommodate casual dining, added a coffered ceiling to “give the space a more luxurious feel,” selected a double French door that leads out to a back terrace, and installed wide-plank, white-oak flooring.

One of Alexis’ trademark design touches is to extend the countertop material up the wall. “I ran the countertop up for the backsplash and all the way up behind the range hood,” she says. With pendant lighting from Aerin for Visual Comfort and a chandelier by Ralph Lauren, the look is a mix of California meets Cape Town, Alexis explains. “I want you to come in and feel relaxed. I wanted it cool and chic.” Her inspiration? Living in both northern California and in her husband’s native South Africa, she says. An example includes keeping the windows stained a darker brown, like you’d see in Colonial Africa. The natural rattan shades are another touch that’s inspired by their time in South Africa. “Where I’ve lived has come through in my designs,” Alexis says.

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