With a soothing pink palette, a traditional, European-influenced home provides serenity for a couple who formerly lived in a contemporary dwelling // Photographs by Joe Vaughn
Additions to the 1918 home (above) were done by Joe Parks Construction and Michael Willoughby & Associates Architects.
So often, homeowners start out as contemporary types and — somewhere along the way — gravitate toward a more traditional sensibility.
Jobs, children, and travels tend to buff our preferences into an evolved version of our original tastes. Such was the case when a couple, who are parents and owners of two local businesses, shifted gears, moving from a Tobocman contemporary to a Bloomfield Hills home built in 1918.
“We wanted coziness,” says the wife, who requested anonymity. “We were tired of being cold. We wanted to be warm. We were looking for a cozy, European look.”
The couple’s job pressures played a role in that decision. As business owners, they’re both in the public all day.
In addition, she says, “As you grow older, there’s a certain serenity in a traditional atmosphere that you don’t find in a contemporary.”
The setting of their home, with its acreage, a creek, in-ground pool, and guesthouse, provides the peace and quiet they sought.
Then there’s the color.
As the lady of the house, puts it: “I always loved pink; it’s very calming.”
Her husband was less certain of the palette she embraced. “I started little by little,” she says. “Once he started to live in it, he really liked it.” He also became fond of the relaxed shabby-chic look popularized by Rachel Ashwell and evidenced in their slipcovered furniture.
The couple also cite Italy as an influence in their decorative about-face.
“When our daughter was on a teen tour in Italy,” the mother says, “we surprised her in Venice. We got into the water taxi and our jaws dropped. It’s magical.” That was the first of what has become frequent trips to the city of canals, where they always shop for chandeliers and other Murano-glass serving and decorative pieces from the island of Murano off the shore of Venice. That fascination is reflected in nearly every room of the home.
In addition to updating and furnishing the property, which was in “disarray” when they bought it 14 years ago, the couple have expanded the residence, which now is 11,000 square feet.
Having shaped the home to her airy, rosy vision, the wife says, “I don’t ever want to leave.”
It may just be that kind of place. Some homes, for whatever reason, never seem to keep anyone for very long; others inspire lifelong affection.
During the current homeowners’ time in this house, an elderly woman who grew up there came to see her girlhood home once more before she died. Among the stories she shared was a memory of playing on a second-floor balcony that overlooks the living room — the very kind of tradition this couple wanted for their own family.