Something to See
The popular shop Leon & Lulu dazzles with all things artistic and eclectic — and so does the owners’ home
Mary Liz Curtin’s living room walls are a sunny yellow hue that’s “bright and happy in the day, and warm at night,” says the homeowner and owner of Leon & Lulu, a home décor shop. Here, she’s shown with her dogs, Bertie Wooster, left, and Spot. The sofa’s fabric, she says, “works well with dog hair!”
Photos by Michelle and Chris Gerard
Husband and wife Stephen Scannell and Mary Liz Curtin are the owners of Leon & Lulu, the wildly popular store and restaurant located in Clawson. The shop’s buildings, formerly a 15,000-square-foot roller rink and an 8,500-square-foot theater, are now home to a wonderful collection of new furniture and accessories, vintage pieces, and art, clothing, books, jewelry, and a café.
It’s not particularly surprising that the couple’s delightful slate-blue shingled Colonial home, built in 1921 and located in Royal Oak, has a similar fun and funky vibe.
In the kitchen, the gumwood cabinets that were in the home when it was purchased in 1990 are still there. “The cabinet doors were warped and awful, but we couldn’t afford to replace them, so our friend, furniture designer Ron Hardwick, hand-painted them to look as if they were windows looking out at a potting shelf. The cabinets are still warped, but now they’re too fabulous to replace,” Curtin says. “We did the whole kitchen around them.”
The gray soapstone counters are a recent addition. “They’re interesting; as they age, the nicks and scratches show — and that gives them character,” Curtin adds. A wrought-iron lemon tree from Italy, originally a candleholder, is used to hold keys. “My mother, who was an interior designer, purchased it in Italy in the ’50s.”
Curtin’s passion for anything silver is evidenced by the two chandeliers made out of silver spoons and teacups that hang over the island and sink, as well as by her large collection of mismatched ornate, sterling flatware. “I use it every day and it sets a beautiful table,” she says. “I (also) like that my kitchen is separated from the dining room, because you don’t see all the mess when we’re entertaining and cooking,” she continues. “I think that’s a big flaw with an open floor plan.” Just across the hall, the 10-foot by 10-foot “playroom” is what Curtin calls “a great example of making a tiny space workable. We built in a bookcase, and use one of the shelves as an end table. With just one sofa and a cocktail table, it’s perfect for reading a book or watching TV. Before we added our family room, our two kids and us watched TV in there. Now Stephen’s happy to have it to himself and one or more of the cats,” she says.
In the colorful living room, the walls are painted a sunny yellow, which Curtin chose because it’s “bright and happy in the day, and warm at night.” The sofas are upholstered with a cream-and-black irregular dotted, family-friendly fabric that Curtin says “is fun for this house that’s filled with so much folk art and reclaimed things. And it works well with dog hair!” Also in the living room, a stained oak-and-glass room divider (from a Rexall drugstore) leans against a wall. In front of it, a tall wooden giraffe (purchased in India on a buying trip) “sits there admiring herself in the mirror,” she says.
Curtin says she’s constantly rearranging. “A house should always be changing, so I rotate my accessories,” she says. “While I’m playing around with them, I think about the memories they hold. Although we’re no longer building new collections, Stephen and I are always looking for new and unusual pieces to add to our home.”
Clockwise from top left: Visitors are immediately greeted with art aplenty (and Spot) as they enter Curtin’s home. A sunny, light-filled eating area off the kitchen features a contemporary table, complementary seating, and lots of greenery. In the intriguing kitchen, one is drawn to two chandeliers made out of silver spoons and teacups that hang over the island and sink. Curtin likes the fact that her kitchen is separate from the dining room, so guests “don’t see all the mess when we’re entertaining,” she says. The inviting living room brims with pattern play.