Artist in Residence
Imagination takes flight in this Huntington Woods family home
Drawn into the room: A massive charcoal drawing — comprised of rectangles pieced together — was picked up at the Center for Creative Studies’ Student Exhibition. The drawing is perfectly balanced by the home’s existing (and formerly dark) wainscoted paneling, which homeowner Debbie Rosenblatt painted white. “Not even for one second do I think about the overall design,” she says. “I say, ‘Ooh, I love that, let’s find a place for it.’ “ An example is the pair of retro-styled Jonathan Adler needlepoint pillows that pop against twin “cheap imitation” Barcelona chairs.
Debbie and Marc Rosenblatt had no intentions to move.
The couple had just finished drawing up blueprints for an addition to their Huntington Woods home, located on a dead-end street that was a mecca where the neighborhood kids loved to play.
But then Marc, a contractor and owner of Huntington Homes in Ferndale, was out with a realtor, looking at potential spec homes. They came across a house and, says Marc, “It just felt right. I called Deb and told her, ‘Come over now.’ ” When she arrived, she agreed.
So the Rosenblatts, who have two children, ditched their blueprints and moved four streets over to their current residence, which was featured in last year’s Huntington Woods Women’s League Home Tour.
The home was constructed in 1951 by a builder who intended to move his own family into the dwelling. Unfortunately, he and his wife divorced, and sold the home two years later. “The next owners lived there until we moved in, in 2008,” Marc says. “They raised two girls there. It was just a great house for a family.”
The house has a very open flow, which was one of the details Debbie had on her list for their previous home’s renovations. In the new home, the kitchen was the only major re-do. Carpets were pulled out, and dark-wood architectural details like wainscoting and dentil molding were painted white, which left the homeowners with a blank canvas beckoning to be tweaked. That’s when all of the real adventures began.
Always a collector of special objects, whether a fantastic pair of metal and leather sculptural pumps or a series of inexpensive but beautifully colored ceramic vases, Debbie, a special-education social worker, has an eye for the unusual — and a knack for making it homey.
“I used to go antiquing a lot around Michigan,” she says. “In the beginning, I didn’t have anything, so I could be more impulsive. I wasn’t thinking, ‘Where am I going to put this?’ Now I have to edit more, and we have a little ‘graveyard’ of things that haven’t found a place. But I’m still not thinking of an overall design; I really just look for things that I’m attracted to, or that bring me joy — and then we live with it until it (settles into its proper) place.”
It’s her casual, unhurried, yet artistic eye that spots eclectic pieces and allows them to percolate, in time becoming singularly unified. The home brims with found objects. “I become slightly obsessed with something, then I find it, and I’m satiated and move on,” Debbie says. “That’s what makes me love every single little corner of our house.” She loves little things, and recently found a set of tiny vintage aluminum lounge furniture, complete with mini Coke bottles, on eBay; the set is now hanging out on a shelf. In a corner of the kitchen, a trio of Andy Warhol-esque spray-paint cans sits on a small table, unobtrusive yet definitely statement-making. The walls are covered in artwork, too.
Debbie has enjoyed hitting the student shows at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit over the years. “You could buy an entrance ticket, so you were among the first to see the artwork,” she says, “and you got to see a lot of really amazing, reasonably priced work. But it really caused you to make a split-second decision. People are walking around with their checkbooks, and if you didn’t have them stick the little ‘sold’ sticker on it, someone else would. By the time the show was over, a week or so later, you could barely remember what you had bought, and had to hope that you still liked it.” (See accompanying story on this year’s CCS show.)
She always did.
Brilliantly colored and thickly textured oil paintings and a pair of renderings of the same model by two different students are among the well-loved prizes of 10-plus years’ worth of instantaneous curating. With Debbie’s nurturing, all of the pieces have found their places of purpose in the home.
The couple knew this house was meant for them in a split-second. And although Debbie’s passions have shifted with the confidence of maturity, she and her husband have grown with the house as it has morphed through various stages. “I love everything in my house,” Debbie says. “I love everything about my house.”
For information on this year’s June 7 Huntington Woods Women’s League Home Tour, visit hwwl.org.
Family Time Clockwise from top left: Daughter Natalie hangs with pup Owen in the family room. Behind her, two CCS artist renderings of the same model face each other. “I love the lady in the kitchen,” Debbie says of another CCS find. The table, she says, is straight-up IKEA. “I wanted something clean and nondescript.” The cool-blue chairs are from Room&Board. Debbie and Marc, with kids Ben and Natalie, recently renovated the kitchen. Inheriting an L-shaped slab of granite from Debbie’s parents, who were redoing their own kitchen, Marc created an island and tore down a wall between the kitchen and eating area. A quartet of food-cart prints are lined above a table holding a trio of paint cans by Mr. Brainwash. “Who would buy paint cans and find a place for them in their dining room?” asks Marc. “But she did.”
Canvassing for Art at CCS
The Rosenblatts have discovered several great artists and art at the Center for Creative Studies’ (CCS) annual show. The college’s Student Exhibition is a juried art show, beginning May 15 and running for two weeks after, with work by students — freshmen through seniors — who have been selected by faculty members to participate. Examples of works, shown here, that may be in the show include Persona, by student Rachel Pendergrass, and Sequined Abstract #1, by Ashley Meunchen.
The show offers the public the opportunity to purchase work by an up-and-coming artist for a reasonable price, while preparing students for pricing and selling their artwork. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale goes directly to the students. Patrons can purchase a ticket for a one-evening preview (when much of the art is sold) before it opens to the general public at no charge. Visit collegeforcreativestudies.edu for updates on this year’s exhibition.
In the Students' Studio Persona, by Rachel Pendergrass, and Sequined Abstract #1, by Ashley Meunchen, are two top works.