Cooking Up Modern
The kitchen takes top priority at this contemporary home, where creating first-rate fare is a daily occurrence
Photos by Martin Vecchio
Chopping a small pile of fresh herbs for a platter of soon-to-be-cooked lamb chops, Luis Negrete deftly moves around his well-equipped kitchen with remarkable focus. One moment he’s pulling out plates from a melamine/lacquer/glass cabinet; the next he’s placing oils on a gleaming quartz countertop. He maneuvers easily, thanks to a strategic layout that includes a 48-inch gas range top. A commercial-style hood vent allows him to sauté, boil, and simmer at once, while a large refrigerator holds enough food for unexpected guests, and comfortable bar seating at an island allows family and guests to watch his cooking acumen. A 30-inch convection oven and steam combo also define the stunning space.
“I’m the main cook,” says the smiling Negrete, who’s just plucked more herbs and some vegetables from his container garden. “I do breakfast and dinner every day.”
As one might guess, he takes food and cooking seriously — but he has a lot of fun with the results, whether entertaining friends with a tempting spread or enjoying a glass of wine and simpler fare with his wife, Ana Vieyra. The two often gather here with their baby daughter to dice, dine, and discuss the day’s events.
The young couple, who are from Mexico, also put their modern design stamp in every room of their home.
“We found our house on the Internet,” Vieyra recalls of what was once an outdated Bloomfield Hills home (built in 1972). “We looked and looked, hoping to get something nontraditional.” In 2011, the couple moved in and, about two years ago, they began a full house interior renovation that wrapped up this past September.
LEFT: THE KITCHEN’S MASSIVE HOOD INDICATES A SERIOUS CHEF LIVES HERE. AS THE FAMILY COOKS A LOT, THE HOOD HELPS MINIMIZE FUMES, HEAT, ETC. BECAUSE THE COOKTOP INCLUDES A GRILL, THE HOOD PROVIDES SERIOUS VENTING. Right: Luis Negrete and his wife, Ana Vieyra, along with their daughter, cook up a tasty storm. The white cabinetry, from Scavolini, is in a matte lacquer in Porcelain Cream.
Storage and organization are key necessities for the busy Vieyra/Negrete family. Here, Ana Vieyra grabs a spice for her husband, who’s preparing a weeknight dinner in their Bloomfield kitchen. All kitchen cabinetry is by Scavolini by Cucina Moda in Birmingham (and Chicago). Come the holiday season, the family enjoys setting a casual, wintry tablescape in their dining room.
A Family Affair
Vieyra’s older sister, Lorena Vieyra of Mexico, is an architect and designer (Vieyra Arquitectos), so they called on her expertise for both their architectural needs and interior-design assistance.
“Our challenge was to adapt to the original construction and to the construction system of another country (U.S.A.),” the architect/designer
recalls. She worked closely with Matt Mundy of Livonia-based Kla Construction. “We wanted to maintain the essence of the house, maximizing the functionality of the spaces and adapting them to the lifestyle and needs of the new owners. We searched for materials that would fit their lifestyle and taste,” she adds.
Lorena Vieyra also worked with Scavolini by Cucina Moda in Birmingham (and Chicago), which played a major role in the designs for the home’s several bathrooms and kitchen.
“The layout and flow of the kitchen were major concerns for the homeowners, so we spent a lot of time working out the placement of appliances (most from Sub-Zero and Wolf),” recalls Niki Serras, of Scavolini. “Additionally, they wanted to create a space that would be warm and inviting, while maintaining the clean and contemporary lines in the rest of the home. They also wanted bar seating at the island so family and guests could hang out or help out in the kitchen while dinner is being prepared.”
“We tried to talk Luis out of the kitchen hood, because we thought it was too big and bulky,” Ana Vieyra says with a laugh. “The cabinets had to fit with it, first and foremost. And, as it turns out, we actually do use it every day.”
The couple opted to keep the wall between the kitchen and dining area/living room, even though the trend is to open things up, Ana Vieyra says. “We do heavy cooking, so it’s better to be enclosed.” They did, however, tear down a wall in the kitchen to encompass the appliances and to allow those in the kitchen to see the expansive views outside.
The exposed view is great, but at first it presented quite a challenge. “The floor-to-ceiling sliding glass windows let in a ton of bright light but also rendered an entire wall unusable for cabinetry,” Serras explains. “The kitchen’s layout and the spacing of the island depended on the doorwall.” The current space once accommodated both a kitchen and dining room, but the couple’s formal dining room/space now is off the living room, on the other side of the kitchen wall.
All of the kitchen’s brands and appointments were selected because of their high-quality standards, “and because they’d be able to cook their hearts out,” Serras adds, with a laugh.
(Incidentally, they do indeed plan to cook to their hearts’ content, not only at home but at their new tapas restaurant, which was scheduled to open at press time. Located in Royal Oak, the bistro-style La Dulce will be managed by Negrete’s brother and will feature small plates of various dishes as well as morning pastries.)
Coming from a family of cooks and chefs, Negrete is passionate about the culinary world. The husband-wife team will balance their new restaurant with their current work as owners of an automotive quality-sorting business, also in Royal Oak.
Although life has been anything but quiet for the couple these past several months, between juggling their business endeavors, their young daughter, and their extreme home makeover, they now experience a soothing quiet when they step through their front entryway and into an inviting foyer. That entryway leads to a pristine, clean-lined dining room, living room, and bar area, all ringed with huge windows through which one can look deep into the woods — and, in the winter, clear to the Rouge River.
With European touches throughout, the gathering space is welcoming for the couple after a long day at work. Here, they enjoy sitting back and gazing into a blazing fire, or looking out to towering trees. Awash in a palette of gray, charcoal, and cream tones, high-end fabrics and furnishings, and the home’s signature unique fabric patterns and pops of color (here, in the way of a large teal-turquoise chair), the living room also features a bar ready for entertaining.
Left: The family experiences a soothing quiet when they step through their front entryway and into an inviting foyer that leads to a pristine dining room. The photograph (by Mexican artist Eduardo Dyan) on the upstairs wall creates impact, Vieyra says. “It’s the first thing you see when walking through the door — I love it!” Right: The entire look of the home is clean-lined and modern, with punches of vibrant color in the way of teals and oranges. The homeowners opted to keep the wall between the dining area and the kitchen because, “We do heavy cooking, so it’s better to be enclosed,” Ana Vieyra says. Most of the furnishings and accessories come from B&B Italia, BoConcept, Minotti, West Elm, Foscarini (lighting), Herman Miller, and others.
The bar area is off the living room. “My sister (the designer) looked for furniture with colors that would bring the spaces to life — accents here and there — without being overwhelming,” Vieyra says.
Plenty of Space
With 3,000 square feet, including four and one-half baths and a finished basement, the home can accommodate visiting family members and their children easily, Ana Vieyra explains. Most of the furnishings and accessories come from B&B Italia, BoConcept (a chic BoConcept sofa bed in an upstairs den works wonders for visitors), Minotti, West Elm, Foscarini (lighting), Herman Miller, and the aforementioned Scavolini.
Various artworks from Mexico bedeck the home, as well as photographs taken by Ana Vieyra and her sister. A large iron adornment the previous owners had on the deck found new life on a living room wall. “The homeowners just left it; my sister said hang it in the living room, Luis said no, but we tried it and, well, it’s great,” Vieyra explains with a laugh.
Upstairs, one of the most remarkable makeovers took place in the master bath, which once had a tiny vanity with what Vieyra calls “Broadway-style” lights.
“It was crazy, and everything was carpeted,” she says. Now the room evokes peacefulness and is spa-like with a gorgeous stand-alone bathtub, large shower, and more.
Each of the home’s bathrooms features an infusion of eye-catching color from Scavolini’s line of options. Not all is new, though; one of the couple’s goals was to try to reuse materials as much as possible. For example, the former master shower wall material was used to create the vanity countertop off the nursery. They also opted to keep the original doors throughout much of the upstairs, but covered them with new materials, working with California Closets to create additional storage to meet the family’s lifestyle.
As for lighting and sound, the couple’s brother-in-law (married to the designer) designed a cutting-edge wireless system that allows the homeowners to control lighting throughout the home from a handheld remote source in their bedroom.
The stairs leading to the second floor once were covered with carpet, but now shine with the original hardwood. Flooring throughout much of the first floor of the home is of a whitewashed, wide-plank engineered wood. Upstairs, it’s the same wood but in a darker tone.
And what else runs throughout the home? The scintillating aromas of some pretty extraordinary meals. “The kitchen is Luis’ dream,” Vieyra says. “Every time his brother comes into the kitchen, he says, ‘I envy you,’ ” she says. Vieyra’s interior-designer sister’s favorite space also is the kitchen. “It’s the space the family uses the most,” she says, “and enjoys the most.”
The master bedroom wallpaper accents the room without “competing with the view out the window,” says homeowner Ana Vieyra. The chair and yellow side table (“it gives the room light and color,” she says) are from B&B Italia.
One of the most remarkable makeovers took place in the master bath, which once featured a tiny vanity with what Vieyra calls “Broadway-style” lights. “It was crazy, and everything was carpeted,” she says. Now the room, which has Hansgrohe faucets, Villeroy & Boch accessories, and a victoria + albert tub, evokes peacefulness and is spa-like. Each of the home’s bathrooms features an infusion of rich hues from Scavolini’s line of options, including khaki oak cabinets with a melamine décor door (similar to laminate). In the daughter’s bath, left, the khaki oak melamine lowers are accented by a Baltic blue matte lacquer medicine cabinet next to the mirror.