Raising the Bar

Cheers to a winning design for a bachelor’s beverage collection // Photography by Martin Vecchio

Lauren Tolles, owner of Maison Birmingham in Birmingham and KSI Kitchen & Bath (nine locations), was more than happy to take a look at a bachelor’s Grosse Pointe Park home that backs up to the Country Club of Detroit. Specifically, the bachelor, whose children are grown, wanted a special bar in his home where he could enjoy the view out to the golf course.

“He wanted a nice bar in his living room where he could (have a drink) and take in the surroundings; a masculine place where he could have the guys over for drinks,” Tolles says. “I think after a divorce, sometimes people want a place just for them, something that fits their personality.”

Tolles joined Sullivan-Strickler Design  of Grosse Pointe on the bar project. “They were reworking the floor plan for the living room, and once we started picking up on his masculine vibe, I knew I wanted to run the dark crocodile, walnut materials, and the dark stone and metal by the designers,” she says. “They loved it! They’re game for different types of materials and textures, and cool ways to keep it dark without being overwhelming.”

The Maryland company from which Tolles procured the crocodile fabric for the cabinetry exterior has been transforming scraps of leather into sustainable material suitable for the building industry since 2005. “The production of hide leather often involves a massive amount of water and the use of harmful chemicals during the tanning process,” Tolles explains. “By using recycled leathers, they’re cutting the demands for hide leathers and fewer leathers end up in landfills.”

Tolles had the cabinet fronts sent to leather upholstery experts in Pennsylvania. When they were complete, they were sent back to her cabinet shop.

“This is high-end,” she says of the project. “We don’t get to do very many leather-fronted cabinets for clients. We’ve had people see it and they’re falling in love with it.” Apparently, so did this year’s Detroit Design Awards judges, who named the space a winner in four categories, including Bar, Interior/Exterior Lighting, Use of Fabrics/Upholstery, and Interior Use of Stone.

What’s up next for Tolles and her team in the leather-cabinet project lineup? A man’s closet featuring crocodile and walnut details.

More information: maisonbirmingham.com