An Art Filled Royal Oak Loft
Pieces collected around the world make for a sophisticated loft-style condo
Jim Stout and his partner love to host lavish cocktail parties in their third-floor, loft-style condo in Royal Oak. Among an eclectic mix of guests, Charles and Ray Eames, Andy Warhol, and Warren Platner all make appearances. No, the homeowners don’t have the power to raise the dead (despite what their collection of African folk art may suggest). Rather, the 2,300-square-foot space, which overlooks the marquee of the Landmark Main Art Theatre, has become a gallery for the art they’ve amassed throughout their travels.
“Maybe we’re frustrated artists,” Stout says, explaining the couple’s affinity for objets d’art. Their collection has grown, thanks to a respect for creativity, a love of travel, and a number of friends in the design and art world.
One longtime friend, interior designer Robert Endres, was instrumental in the development of the condo. When Stout and his partner bought the unit in 2005, construction hadn’t yet begun. Thanks to a then-booming housing market, they sold their spacious Bloomfield Hills ranch — which also had an Endres-designed interior — “for more than we ever imagined we could sell it for,” Stout says. “That enabled us to customize this space more.”
And customize they did. An early buy-in allowed them to tweak the layout of the unit. So, with Endres’ help, they set about removing walls, shifting around laundry facilities, and eschewing wall cabinets in the kitchen for stainless-steel shelves, which now display their extensive collection of early-1900s “Mostique” Roseville pottery. Other changes included extending the espresso-stained concrete floors throughout the main level, turning the downstairs bedroom into a library, and moving the master bedroom upstairs for added privacy.
Endres’ intent in the kitchen, like the rest of the space, was to open it up — a feat achieved through the use of white subway tiles running from countertop to ceiling, white Berloni cabinets, and an expansive island with khaki-colored concrete countertops. “When we entertain, it’s a bar; it’s everything,” Stout says of the kitchen. “People start to congregate here. There’s not a fireplace, so the stove became the hearth of the home.”
Despite the relatively modest square footage, the condo feels spacious and airy, thanks to an exposed ceiling that’s been painted a clean white and rises 25 feet in the living room. Opposite the kitchen, a steel staircase zigzags up the wall toward a private loft area. On the main level, shelves in the library display keepsakes and books on travel and gardening.
Most striking, perhaps, is the collection of art and artifacts the couple brought home from such exotic locales as northern India, China, and South Africa, as well as friends’ galleries. Art is displayed in nearly every available space: in the kitchen, the laundry room — even the shower.
Their collection is so voluminous that it has begun to spill over into the common areas of the building and even to the sidewalk outside. (Stout installed a yellow modernist sculpture at the northwest corner of 11 Mile and Main).
“It was supposed to be much more of an edited, pared-down aesthetic,” Stout says of the home’s original design. “Oops!”