Love It To Pieces
A Lego replica of a Detroit Wright home is on display
A 50,000-piece Lego replica of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed 1955 Turkel House in Detroit (right) is on display at the Grosse Pointe Robot Garage through June. Troy resident Michele Van Hecker (above), a graduate of Kettering University in Flint who worked in the automotive industry for 35 years, designed the miniature beauty. The project took her more than 2,000 hours over two years to complete. Van Hecker has a working inventory of 1.3 million Lego elements in her collection. “I started building only eight years ago, but I’ve collected for about 40 years,” she says. “This is my first installation and my first large MOC (My Own Creation).”
Visitors will want to check out the house’s special lighting, miniature figures, gardens, and a vignette, shown here, reminiscent of parties thrown at the actual home in Detroit’s Palmer Woods. The Robot Garage, 15201 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park, therobotgarage.com
A must-have gadget for hanging art
When Dean Grevé’s wife asked him to put up several pictures to create a “gallery wall” in their West Bloomfield home, he cheerfully consented.
“It ended up taking an entire day,” Grevé says, “and then I needed to ‘move this one up a little, that one down a bit.’ I was tired of pounding nails and said, ‘I’m done!’”
Grevé searched the marketplace for something that would make the process easier.
“There was nothing available anywhere,” he says.
Days later, while waiting in the car line to pick his son up at school, Grevé had an idea. “Why can’t a picture hanger move up and down, back and forth?” He sketched this phantom product as he inched along in line. Later, in his basement, he worked on the design.
“I’m not an engineer,” Grevé says, “but I wholeheartedly believe that if you can conceive it, you can achieve it.”
So he continued the arduous task of bringing to market his Picture Perfect Hanger.
“I eventually hit the trifecta of product production, and the Picture Perfect Hanger (above) is now available to everyone,” Grevé says. “It’s made in Michigan. It’s created with recycled product. And it’s packaged at MRC Industries in Kalamazoo by an amazing and enthusiastic workforce of people with disabilities.”
Grevé is thrilled that homeowners can now hang pictures quickly, easily, and confidently. His website has several videos demonstrating uses for the Picture Perfect Hanger, which can be ordered via the website or purchased online from Walmart. Other market outlets are in the works.
“You can’t make a mistake,” Grevé says. pictureperfecthanger.com — Honey Murray
To the Nines
A perfect bar tool helps concoct impressive beverages
Like a cool cat with nine lives, the new Barbarian Bar Tool has nine tools in one, taking the citrus press to a whole new level. As a citrus press, it’s great for squeezing limes, lemons, and oranges, but check out the rest of its offerings. A jigger, corkscrew and lever, zester, channel knife (to make those fancy garnishes), can lance, 1-inch knife, and citrus knife are all at the ready for any home bartender. Nordstrom and Bed, Bath & Beyond, $60, barbarianbartools.com
Raise the Curtains
Mother/Daughter U-M grads launch design partnership
When Toti Fleischman (left, top) graduated from the University of Michigan, she never imagined that not only would she someday have a daughter (Amy Fleischman, left, bottom) who would graduate from the school, but that they’d eventually run a drapery company together. Fast forward a few decades, and the unlikely happened — the two recently partnered at Drapes Décor, based in Miami.
Born in Peru, Fleischman explains that her father worked in the automotive field and was on a business trip in Detroit when a friend recommended he check out Ann Arbor and the university. Soon after, Fleischman’s older sister enrolled, followed by Fleischman.
Today, the mother-daughter team of Toti and Amy often reminisce about everything from Wolverine football games to Zingerman’s Deli.
Needless to say, the drapery in Amy’s college digs was probably the prettiest on campus. “Senior year I lived off campus, and my mom put drapes in my bedroom. I was the only one who had nice drapes in her room,” Amy recalls.
Some of the trends the two have observed that may be of interest to designers and Michigan residents with second homes in Florida include:
• Very sheer (see example of their work at right) and airy linen is in, as are ripple-fold drapes (no pleats at the top). “It’s a wavy look that’s contemporary and modern,” Toti says.
• Swags are out.
• Motorized window treatments are gaining in popularity.
drapesdecor.com — Megan Swoyer
Hurrah for the Red, White, and Blue — French and American!
No time for a trip to Europe this summer? How about celebrating Independence Day with some fresh, fun, American goods? When you enter The Urban Merchant, 314 S. Main St., Rochester, you’ll step into the most magical of provincial marketplaces — no passport or duty fees required — brimming with vintage-feel and unique home furnishings, décor accents, lighting, wall art, and tabletop accessories, all hand-selected by owners Kevin Bryzek-Biondo, shown at left at his store, and Joseph Biondo III. “The ironic thing,” Bryzek-Biondo says, “is that starting at age 14, I was a skater in Holiday on Ice for 25 years and constantly traveled through Europe. I was so exhausted from three shows every day that I didn’t sightsee much. Now, with Joseph, I love to go back and buy things for the store.”
The owners admit that they favor French décor. Many of their items are embossed or stamped with French phrases, words, or icons, including a set of handled wicker storage baskets in various sizes, floor rugs, and even a Paris crown chair (the seat fabric features a crown theme). Shoppers can also revel in good, old-fashioned, all-American items, including burlap flag-design throw pillows; Mona B handbags, flag-imprinted and upcycled from military canvas and tenting; and framed flags. “I love the Ralph Lauren/flea market feel for home design,” Bryzek-Biondo says, “so we have quite a bit of flag and Americana merchandise.”
Interested in an easy and organic victory garden for your porch or patio? Check out the ready-to-grow tomato, chive, and sweet pea kits in self-contained, burlap bags — perfect to use for a Bastille Day feast or a Fourth-of-July picnic. theurbanmerchanthome.com — Honey Murray
Valspar Stirs Up Some Green
Eco-conscious paint makers create new varieties
Valspar has completed a multiyear reformulation initiative that’s yielded a nice line of high-performing, zero-VOC products. Noticeably absent from the lineup are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals that can impact indoor air. Each product has earned GREENGUARD Gold Certification, validating that it meets rigorous indoor clean air standards, while maintaining the highest quality for durability, performance, and color-consistency. Valspar currently offers four zero-VOC interior paints: Reserve, Signature, Ultra 2000, and Ultra 4000. “It’s a new era for interior paint, as Valspar brings a smarter, sustainable formulation to market without sacrificing the unparalleled premium performance and color confidence our customers demand,” says Heidi Petz, vice president/marketing for Valspar. Metro-area Lowe’s stores, lowes.com
Metro Detroit’s Design World Update
The Container Store (containerstore.com), a leading retailer of storage and organization products, is opening in West Oaks (Novi Road and I-96) this June. It’s the company’s first location in Michigan. The 22,000-square-foot store features more than 10,000 products — showcased in 16 lifestyle departments, from laundry to kitchen — that can solve everything from the simplest to the most intimidating organizational challenges. Look for a new Troy location this fall, in Troy Commons on Big Beaver Road.
Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co. (advanceplumbing.com), established in 1920, is relocating its Grand River Avenue operation this summer. The new location will still be in Detroit, at the heart of the cultural district in Midtown. The new 20,000-square-foot store, which will feature a decorative plumbing showroom, will showcase showers, tubs, toilets, faucets, steam units, and more.
R. Youngblood & Co. (ryoungblood.com), a landscaping design firm based in Rochester, launched a new website. Full of high-quality images and details about its work and team, including owner Ryan Youngblood right), the site is a helpful tool for those in search of high-caliber landscapes.
Mark your calendars for the annual Birmingham Home Tour, Sept. 22, presented by The Community House in Birmingham. For information on tickets, visit tchserves.org. Attention designers, architects, and builders: The tour committee is looking for contenders for the tour. If you know of a home, contact Andrea Coronado at 248-594-6403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With more than $500,000 in assets and average annual sales on an upward trajectory, Pontiac-based Trees & Co. (treesandcompany.com) is expanding. The company has a wide-ranging roster of clients, from commercial businesses such as the U.S. Border Patrol at Selfridge Air National Guard Base to residential customers looking for quality tree maintenance. “A 90-foot lift with a small footprint can fit in smaller spaces instead of traditional big-rig equipment, resulting in a more precise job and less disruption to the rest of the property,” says Hector Martinez, owner of Trees & Co. with his wife, Abby Martinez (above). “Our team strives to leave properties better than when we got there.”
Have news that pertains to the design industry that you’d like to share? Send a message to MSwoyer@hour-media.com.