Shimmering with lush fabrics, pretty patterns, and a richly toned palette, a small-scale condo in the sky breathes big life into its owners


The sitting room's high-back sofa, upholstered in a green Bentley Churchill velvet, neutralizes the space and brightens the chalk drawing above. The reflection on the mirrored cabinet helps create the illusion of space. Underfoot, a sisal Stark rug separates two seating areas.


Interior designer Anne Strickland created a gallery of display-lit botanical prints in a hallway  that bridges two of Archie and Anne Damman's home's main areas. One way leads to the master bedroom, while the other ends in the dining and sitting areas. A black Ethan Allen chest has served as a television console, storage for school supplies, and buffet in the couple's homes over the years. Above it is a sunburst mirror that once hung in Anne Damman's grandparents' summer home.


Interior designer Anne Strickland created a gallery of display-lit botanical prints in a hallway  that bridges two of Archie and Anne Damman's home's main areas. One way leads to the master bedroom, while the other ends in the dining and sitting areas. A black Ethan Allen chest has served as a television console, storage for school supplies, and buffet in the couple's homes over the years. Above it is a sunburst mirror that once hung in Anne Damman's grandparents' summer home.

Anne and Archie Damman raised their two daughters in a stylishly idyllic environment. A 6,400-square-foot home with soaring ceilings in Bloomfield Hills, which Damman herself coiffed in muted tones of blue and red, ensconced the family in traditional comfort with unexpected twists that expressed her energetic personality and love of color — except green.

Now grown and living out of state (the elder daughter is director of marketing for Chanel in New York City; the younger is a junior at Arizona State University), the children left their parents to deal with a universally familiar situation: an empty nest.

“We had recently bought a home in Florida, where we were spending more and more of our time,” Anne Damman says, “and we just didn’t want the drag of taking care of two homes. So we decided to downsize.” The couple — she is a homemaker and he is the owner of an electronics manufacturing company — moved into a 4,100-square-foot site condominium in Birmingham.         

They sold much of the furniture that had filled their family home and brought with them only their favorite pieces, or ones that Anne Damman thought would work well in the new space. 

The sculptural Baker bed frame, exquisitely hand-painted, "is one of the only pieces that I make sure to find a place for in every renovation," Damman says. "I adore it, though my family thinks it's hideous. But I'll never let it go." Strickland tied the flecks of ruby red in the headboard with the pillows, and brought in a small-scale animal print. The muted tones of the curtain fabric, Japura by Manuel Canovas, allowed Strickland to introduce a larger pattern without competing with the rest of the room's patterns.


Left: An unexpected and fine detail of the brand-new pair of Bernhardt bedside chests: They're wrapped in Belgian linen and hand-studded. The design is inspired by interlocking Moorish patterns. The vintage lamp is from a previous home. Right: Muted icy-blue walls welcome visitors to the Dammans' jewel-box Birmingham condo. A botanical print, displayed in an organic white frame in their previous home, here becomes a strikingly moody centerpiece with Strickland's choice of a substantial black-lacquered frame and display lighting to complement the gilding in the mat.


As she began spending more time in Naples, and transforming that house into the family home, Damman realized she wanted a Michigan space that was completely easy to maintain — for herself and for her husband while she was away and he was left home, working. After two years of renovating and decorating the Birmingham site condo, Damman put it up for sale. 

This time, Damman wanted a fresh start in all respects. And because she was simultaneously renovating her Naples home, she knew she needed help. She had read that interior designer Anne Strickland had won a 2013 Detroit Home Rising Star design award, and so after running into Strickland at a party, she tapped her to design her yet-to-be-purchased space. “I hadn’t seen any of Anne’s work,” Damman says, “but I knew her, and (I knew) that she had style, and she had seen my previous homes. I just sensed she was the right person to work with.”

Strickland, the 30-year-old owner of PORT Manufacturing & Design in Birmingham, looked at a few properties with Damman. Two days later she found a condo in downtown Birmingham with a spectacular view down Woodward Avenue; on a clear day, you can see the Renaissance Center. Damman was sold.

“We bought the condo and Anne was here the next day,” Damman says. “We left the old condo in July 2013, and we moved in here in October. It was that fast.”

The new condo, just 1,500 square feet (with no basement, attic, or other storage), opened an entirely new way of living to the couple. “We love to entertain,” Damman says. “Before, we had enormous kitchens, and tons of storage and seating. It was definitely a difficult transition. And I worried for Archie, that the lower ceilings would close in on him. But now, we wouldn’t trade it.”

Damman sold the site condo 80 percent furnished, again paring down to her most prized pieces. Some of the larger pieces were sent down to Florida, where their scale was more suitable. “I’m not attached to things; people are more important — although I did have a hard time parting with many of my kitchen utensils,” Damman admits.

Grasscloth wallpaper brings a caramel-brown warmth to the den's small space, where an ikat-style pillow pops against a blue velvet couch. Interior designer Strickland, shown, collaborated with Damman to create a massive kitchen-area banquette — 9 feet long and 7 feet high. "The scale is inappropriate for an apartment so small, but it works, and I love it," Damman says. "Plus, it's comfortable." The high back is covered in cut velvet by F. Schumacher & Co., while the seat is solid. To "celebrate" no more little sticky fingers in the house, Strickland paired it with a black high-gloss lacquered dining table. "We wanted big impact in a small space," Strickland says.   


The Super White dolomite that tops the kitchen counters runs up the backsplash to create more flow in a smaller space, says Strickland, who worked with Unique Remodeling Concepts in Troy. She reupholstered Damman's bar stools with a Romo fabric that incorporates the blue-gray of the walls and the citron-greens in the sitting room. "We still entertain often, just differently," Damman says. "We're big on having people over for cocktails, then walking to dinner. We have all of downtown Birmingham as our backyard, plus everyone wants to come over because they are curious about how we're living. We aren't living a traditional life anymore — we're living the life we want."   


Working with an entirely blank slate, Damman and Strickland, who have very different styles, magically saw eye to eye — just as Damman predicted they would. “I wanted a completely fresh look, like nothing I’d done before, and I didn’t think I would be capable of doing that,” Damman says. “I didn’t want it to look like a grandmother’s condo. I sketched a few layouts and showed Anne a few of the pieces we had to work in. The only thing I told Anne was, ‘Don’t bring me anything green.’ ” 

“She’s very confident in what she likes, and she enjoys the design process, so she was ready to pump it all out,” Strickland says of Damman. “She found this great little condo in the sky, and she was very willing to have fun with it.” They were both inspired by the downtown location and the urban lifestyle. “But what was most striking to me was that, even with all the design experience she has had, she still was willing to trust someone as young as I am,” Strickland says, “and she let me have a voice. I’m so grateful for that.”

Strickland’s voice said green, so Damman overcame her dislike of the color and she and her husband now live compatibly with jolts of green — like the velvety lining of a lustrous jewel box.

“Green is a neutral,” Strickland says. “You can pop so much against it, but it doesn’t overwhelm.” Icy-blue walls, for example, anchor lustrous mixes of inky-blue velvet, bold geometric patterns, and sweet, oversized florals — expressing Strickland’s own passion for color, pattern, and bold combinations.

“It was the best thing we ever did,” Damman says. “We wanted something new, and we got it. We’re living an entirely different lifestyle. We go out to eat more often than we stay in, and we still love to entertain, but it will be for cocktails before dinner. I love that I live in my entire home. I use every inch of it, and if you don’t see it, we don’t own it. Every single piece in the home is my favorite. The style makes me feel younger. It makes me feel fresh.”— LK

Passion for Patterns

Designer Anne Strickland keeps a stash of favorite florals, geometrics, and other lustrous patterns and hues that she offers to almost every client. Inevitably, the unusual fabrics aren’t always readily embraced. “(Clients) say, ‘Oh, that’s beautiful. But I’m not sure …’ “ Inspired by Strickland’s careful curating, mixing, and matching, homeowner Anne Damman was all about giving them a try.  For example, Sanderson's Vanessa Embroidery (top center photo), a cacaphony of loosely painted pink peonies, now covers bamboo dining chairs. Here are a few of Strickland’s tips for how she made all the patterns work well together.

SCALE Let larger patterns pop. Bolder patterns can breathe easier when paired with more petite designs, whether similar or not.

CONTRAST Strickland mixed a geometric pattern (top left, F. Schumacher & Co.'s Imperial Trellis velvet) on the banquette with the more fluid floral fabrics in much of the space.   

FOCUS “Although each of these rooms uses a lot of patterns, they don’t overwhelm because everything has a balancing point,” Strickland says. In the office, for example, textures and patterns are layered everywhere — from rugs to wallpaper — but a pair of richly colored embroidered ikat pillows pop against the solid blue of the settee, making them the centerpiece.

AN EVEN HAND Layer upon layer of color, texture, and pattern can be piled together — if they’re similar in feel. Note the complementary throw pillows on the living area's citron wingback settee, for example (top right, Osborne & Little's paisley Nizam, from the Karavansara collection). “ It’s about layering in different textures," Strickland says, "but they have the same feel.” — LK

Blooming with Exquisitry

We checked in with fabric professionals to shed light on some of the favorite selections by designer Anne Strickland, right. Chosen for the kitchen bar stools, Kew Jonquil is a digitally printed linen from Romo’s Black Edition Xanthina Collection. “With its combination of a beautiful budding magnolia and its exquisite blend of colors, this design continues to be a firm favorite,” says Emily Mould, design director for the Romo Black Edition. “Digital printing effectively captures a gentle painterly feel, mixing soft pastel shades with pops of neon brights, perfect as an accent fabric.” The designers at London-based Harlequin Design Studio are big on the Rosella Silk, featured in the company’s  Amilie Fabrics collection. A sumptuous all-over floral design in a pearlescent finish, this fabric was used for the home’s living room drapery.  “The inspiration for the Amilie collection comes from a harmonious mix of English country garden and classic French style prints,” says Claire Vallis, lead designer at  Harlequin. — Megan Swoyer

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