Design

By Lisa Howard

YOUR HOME SAYS A LOT ABOUT YOU, from the way it’s decorated to what kinds of amenities you prefer. But maybe the most important factor about any house is its style — how the house is structured is a fundamental consideration. Whether it’s your first or third home, you want to know what you’re looking at when you start scouring home listings.

Fortunately, buyers in Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Berkley, Ferndale and Oak Park have several popular styles to choose from.

“The interesting thing about both Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge is that the majority of the homes there are different,” says Tim Murad, a realtor with Keller Williams who lives in Berkley. “‘Eclectic’ is the word I’d use. Both of those communities are higher-end, with custom-designed homes.”

In Berkley and Ferndale, the most prevalent home style is a BUNGALOW, also called a “ story-and-a-half” because the upstairs is only half a floor, due to the roof slope. Bungalows usually have two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen and a living space on the first floor plus an additional bedroom/ office upstairs. (Most bungalows were built during the post-WWII years and might not have a fully-finished second floor.) These homes are more affordable and are especially popular with first-time buyers. Then again, most bungalows lack a bathroom on the second level, which can be a dealbreaker for some buyers.

IN CONTRAST, A COLONIAL IS CONSIDERED TO BE A FULL TWO-STORY HOME. Found throughout the five cities, colonials traditionally have a kitchen and living space on the first floor and bedrooms and a full bath (or two) upstairs. SPLIT-LEVEL HOMES are multi-story: A bi-level has two stories, a tri-level has three, and a quad-level has four. One side of the house is lowered or raised to half of the floor height and short runs of stairs are placed in the middle of the house to facilitate getting to the other levels. While some buyers won’t consider a bi- or tri-level home due to lack of storage space, quad-levels usually have basements. And some buyers explicitly seek out split-level homes because of their mid-century vibe. Oak Park in particular is a very diverse community, Tim points out, with mid-century modern homes nestled into neighborhoods featuring bungalows, colonials, and ranches.

RANCH homes are single-story homes where a family can live and parents can age in place,” Tim says. “We’re finding that baby boomers are looking to sell their colonial or bungalow and downsize to a ranch, especially a ranch with a basement.” However, ranches do tend to require bigger lots, so you usually have a larger yard to care for. If you’re a gardener, that’s a plus! If you hate mowing and shoveling, that might be unattractive.

One way to get maximum interior space with minimal exterior upkeep is to look for a large-footprint colonial built on a lot formerly occupied by a bungalow — then you’ll have more house and less yard. But most importantly, think about which style would best suit your needs and your budget.

By Lisa Howard

AS SOON AS YOU HEAR THE FIRST BIRD CHIRP IN SPRING, you might think – “Garden!” And, then you might wonder how to go about creating one. While the kamikaze approach of wandering through a plant store and buying whatever strikes your fancy might work, you’re more likely to be successful if you think about some basic considerations first.

• If you’d like to let your inner floral designer bloom and arrange DIY bouquets to your heart’s content, look for showy, hardy flowers and accent plants that are clearly marked as “excellent to use in bouquets/as cut flowers.”

• If you’re a first-time food grower, choose plants that are easy to maintain and that quickly produce, like bush beans, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and herbs. Bear in mind that pole beans (and peas) need structures to climb on and that bigger tomatoes and peppers will take much longer to grow and ripen than will smaller versions.

Zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins and other squash grow well as long as they don’t get waterlogged — if their broad, cupping leaves spend too much time being wet, they’ll likely wind up attracting opportunistic molds like powdery mildew. Ditto for melons. Corn typically needs to be planted somewhat in quantity in order to be cross-pollinated and produce sizeable ears. Planning is key!

MSU’s Gardening in Michigan website has oodles of information about how to best map out your veggies in an article titled Planning a Smart Vegetable Garden.

• If you’d like to support pollinators, check out MSU’s Michigan Pollinator Initiative. You’ll find thoughtful articles like Pollinator Lawns, Pollinator Gardens and Pollinator-Supportive Trees. They even have a free online course called Pollinator Champions, if you’d like to become an MSU-Certified Pollinator Champion. On a national scale, the National Wildlife Federation offers resources that enable your garden to become a Certified Wildlife Habitat®: www.nwf.org/certify. Planting the kind of native plants that support pollinators also enriches your soil and regenerates the land.

• Aside from thinking about the overall shape and size of your garden, you’ll also need to map out how to get into it if you want to be able to walk through it to harvest food or flowers. Will you need to plan for a pathway? Make sure you’ll be able to easily water and tend to your plants and think about whether you want them to be permanent (perennials) or only last for one season (annuals).

• Stagger your plants! If you want to be able to view everything in your garden, put tall plants in the center/at the back and radiate outwards with progressively shorter plants. Not only will that maximize the aesthetic value of your garden, the shorter plants won’t be shaded into oblivion by their taller neighbors.

Perhaps most importantly, find out what your plants want and give it to them, whether that’s sun or shade, dry or moist soil, vining support or room to spread out or being generally warmer or cooler. If you make it easy for your garden to grow, you’ll be beautifully rewarded.

By Ryan R Ennis

YOU HAVE MADE THE DECISION TO SELL YOUR HOME. NATURALLY, THE DESIRE IS TO RECEIVE THE BEST PRICE. Your home has some impressive features. Yet, after scrutinizing the condition of the rooms and décor, you notice they could use a facelift. Some home-staging – readying the property for the market can improve your chances of selling it quickly and getting the offer you want.

As revealed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR referencing a 2017 report), 77 percent of agents state that home-staging helps potential buyers to envision a place for sale as their own. NAR points out that this same strategy helps 39 percent of sellers experience faster home sales and elevates their property values by 6 to 10 percent.

Working in the field for over 30 years, real estate agent Keith Weber of RE/MAX First in Royal Oak agrees that home staging has many benefits — if done the right way. Like most agents in his company, he believes that the proper design can enliven a space. “But, just as important,” he says, “are the background details.” Too often, sellers focus more on the aesthetics of furnishings in the rooms than on the appeal of their doors, walls, and windows.

FRONT DOORS SERVE AS MORE THAN AN ENTRANCE to a home. If they are clean and painted in an attractive color, they welcome and entice prospective buyers to cross the threshold. Once inside, the buyers should be greeted by newly-cleaned or painted walls, preferably in a neutral or timeless color, that complement the furniture and wall art. Adorning the windows should be spotless treatments that offer clear views of the yard and other surroundings from a variety of angles.

When it comes to preparing the sellers’ possessions for staging, Weber recommends following the “every other rule.” After taking an inventory of their belongings, sellers should “put every other thing away.” If they cannot be kept in the attic or basement, check into temporarily renting a storage unit. Too much bric-a-brac in the rooms distracts potential buyers from seeing themselves living in the property.

Another seasoned real estate agent who specializes in home staging is Judy Palmer of RE/MAX Showcase Homes in Birmingham. “For prospective buyers,” she says, “visualization is the key to make sure the house feels like home.” Observing the principle of “Less is better,” she frequently coaches her clients on how to “move around or move out certain furniture” to reduce distractions.

ANOTHER SUGGESTION PALMER OFTEN MAKES is for sellers to put away personal items. “You want people to look at your house, not at your things,” she says. Before the showings of a home begin, she often assists her clients with storing personal items such as family photos hanging on the walls or collections of memorabilia displayed on tables and shelves.

Like Weber, she knows that having the right color scheme matters. “Recently, I showed two bungalows to a client. They both had been updated and were similar size. In the first one, the walls and ceiling had been painted just white, no accent shades. The other used Pottery Barn colors throughout.” Even though the home renovated with Pottery Barn colors cost $10,000 more, the person still bought it.

Irenita Goedert of Red Door Realty in Royal Oak discusses the four “D”s with new clients before they list their house on the market. She advises them to DISCARD anything that is no longer in good condition or hasn’t been utilized in a long time. In this current market, homes can sell within days, so she encourages them to DISPLACE possessions not frequently used “by packing them early.” While homeowners discard and displace unnecessary belongings, she falls in line with Weber and Palmer in teaching her clients how to DE-PERSONALIZE in a way that allows potential buyers to “visualize themselves living there.”

After that, it’s the time for the final D: Giving the place “a DEEP cleaning.”

AS YOU PONDER PUTTING YOUR HOME UP FOR SALE, you may be reluctant to consider staging because the process seems too costly or time-consuming. You may also feel that it carries little weight since the high demand for housing dictates that the market is on your side. However, most knowledgeable agents recognize that any seller can take advantage of staging no matter what the market is like. Staging can be done with little or no expense and empower you to achieve your goal of transitioning to a new home in good financial standing.

By Jenn Goeddeke

AS ALL HOMEOWNERS ARE AWARE, YOUR LIVING SPACE IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING. Many aspects change over time, including the style and scope of decorations. An element that may be a focal point for a while can become unwanted or irrelevant later on.

Many if not most home areas seem easy, fun, and natural to make beautiful. However, there are those other spaces that somehow add a particular decorating challenge. This could be an entire area, such as a low-lit basement, a laundry room, or a mudroom. Perhaps it is a smaller area: A nook/cranny; alcove; stairway; hallway or foyer. There could be an odd-shaped room with a slanted or low ceiling. Regardless of the situation, a little creativity can go a long way in forming an attractive decor upgrade.

One of the first main aspects of planning new decor will be figuring out the form vs. function combination. For example, should the space be used more for display, or storage? Most likely, awkward spaces will serve both! The next key consideration will be setting a budget. Will this be a do-it-yourself project or will you be recruiting some help? It will be smart to pursue a few web sites, local hardware stores, and home decor retail places. Your design will likely incorporate several types of decorating elements and will be part of a theme that is meaningful for your household.

DARRIN ROBERTS (OF JIM SHAFFER & ASSOCIATES REALTORS) DESCRIBED HOW A CLIENT formed a solution to overall space restrictions. “A current client just bought a 580-square-foot home, and they needed to get creative with space options. This client is an avid reader, so she decided to build a small bookshelf using steel pipes and wooden beams to create an ultra-modern look.”

Roberts continued, “Smaller homes can include a ‘murphy bed’ which folds up against the wall when not in use. Fitness equipment can be selected to roll out of the way, to create a multi-functional/convertible space. Within the smaller bungalows, a popular option to maximize space is to install a ‘dual purpose’ bench for seating and use the underneath area for stowing small kitchen appliances. Additionally, bungalows may have cute bay windows, which can double up as a cozy seating area, next to a small table.”

You might be surprised what you can accomplish in a cumbersome area with a new color scheme, either through paint or wallpaper. Furniture choices can further enhance your project, including console tables; mirrors; cute organizers, and custom cabinetry. Find local companies that can help you plan storage options, such as Easy Glider Storage (see below for contact details). Chris Dempsey (owner) mentioned that “glide-out trays (also called roll-out trays and slide-out shelves) are the most popular storage improvement we provide. They provide more efficient storage while significantly improving accessibility. We specialize in creating solutions for awkward spaces. Under-stair storage; deep, narrow, or irregular spaces are no problem.”

OTHER ENHANCEMENTS MIGHT INCLUDE AN ART DISPLAY, shelves, rugs, lamps, potted plants or vertical gardening, hanging baskets and containers and water elements (such as a mini-waterfall). Saving space may involve swapping the existing swinging or bifold doors with barn-type doors that are flush with the wall.

Depending on your career, it might be worth creating a home office in a space you are currently not using. For example, a bay window could be a perfect locale for placing a small work desk, which may provide an engaging view. A motivational chalkboard hung nearby completes the constructive design.

Gathering notes on the latest decor trends will also be an entertaining and worthwhile endeavor. Many websites list current trends and provide lively suggestions on redesigning your home. Local libraries are also helpful and provide a diverse range of free books to check out. Consult with friends and family for a fresh, individualized perspective. Whichever way you decide to spruce up your home, let it add to the personality and ambiance that is unique to your household.

Dare to be different!

Darrin Roberts,  Jim Shaffer & Associates, 616.403.5710 www.SoldCallJim.com;

Chris Dempsey, Easy Glider Storage Solutions, 248.765.7576 www.easygliderstorage.com

www.bhg.com; www.brick.com; www.hunker.com.

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By Jenn Goeddeke

HOW DO YOU ENVISION YOUR DREAM LIFESTYLE? Many Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and wish to escape the cycle of debt, including steep mortgage payments.

Increasing numbers of home buyers aim to downsize and simplify – to live with less. The cost of buying and maintaining a tiny home is far lower than fullsize homes. This equates to greater savings over time and thus more freedom to enjoy other life experiences. According to Darrin Roberts (of Jim Shaffer & Associates Realtors), “Many of my clients in the Ferndale area are looking for smaller and lower-maintenance homes, to create a simpler yet functional living space. They are innovative, creative individuals and want broader lifestyle experiences.”

The Tiny House Movement essentially started in the 1970s. The outlook is a combination of lifestyle choice and philosophy plus typically an ecological attitude (green footprint/sustainability awareness). Often this is promoted in a dreamy or idealistic way. Early advocates included Lloyd Kahn, Shelter (1973), and Lester Walker, Tiny Houses (1987). Popular media coverage began around 2014 with the TV show Tiny House Nation.

Tiny homes have gradually become larger, heavier, and more expensive over the years (according to online resources). Different cities have reacted in various ways regarding zoning and coding, especially regarding accommodating the homeless communities. Some more progressive cities such as Oakland (California), Edinburgh (United Kingdom) and Detroit (Michigan) have embraced some possibilities using tiny homes as a partial solution.

A local project certainly worth mentioning is the Tiny Homes Detroit project, formed by Cass Community Social Services. They developed 25 different homes on foundations, with 30×100 ft lots. The homes include front porches or rear decks. This is a rent-to-own situation developed for low-income individuals, including seniors; homeless individuals, and college students (see below for website reference link).

HOW BIG SHOULD IT BE? Technically, a tiny home has a maximum size of 500 square feet and most are just 100-400 sq/ft. However, in a broader sense, the term encompasses homes that are less than 900 sq/ft. The two basic types are those built either on a mobile platform of some kind or a permanent house foundation. Various considerations need to be made regarding each type. Planning is key!

Roberts added, “In the Ferndale area, many starter homes are between 580-700 sq/ft. Typically they include two bedrooms, one bath, a small kitchen, and a living area. They sell for around $125,000-150,000. First-time buyers or those on a limited budget often are interested in these smaller homes. Or these buyers might be looking for a second residence.”

Tiny homes typically range from $10,000 to around $180,000, depending on the options/materials used. Building your own will cost around $25,000 but can be done for less.

Living in a smaller space can encourage people to declutter and live more simply. Other positive benefits include: Easier to clean; cheaper to maintain and repair; lower energy bills/taxes and a greener footprint, plus an emphasis on creative design and a quality build.

Despite the restriction in size, owners can make the most of their vertical space options with things like a loft and upper deck.

INCLUDED IN THE TINY HOME LIFESTYLE IS AN INHERENT SENSE OF ADVENTURE. Plus the aesthetics are hugely important. They are designed in many eclectic ways, with various architectural influences including Modernism; Japanese; Rustic; Moroccan; Gothic, and so on. Other creative options include converting an existing structure e.g. a recreational vehicle or camper van.

With so many choices, how can you decide which type is right for you? A good start might be creating a list of features you need and want. For example, are you looking for an ultragreen way of life? Or perhaps a unique, alternate vacation home in a scenic locale? Some helpful approaches to making your decision: Staying in a tiny house hotel, reading blogs, subscribing to podcasts or online groups, and talking to others who own one.

What are some of the hurdles in becoming a Tiny Homeowner? Finding a suitable location seems to be the most prominent challenge. During the planning phase, potential owners must look into local zoning and ordinance laws. Also, insurance and financing options require some research.

The next phase will be attaining a building permit. If you are building a tiny home within Michigan, it is worth noting that the more established communities exist in these cities: Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Dearborn, and Detroit. For some people looking for a downsized, alternative way of living, it may be easier to follow an RV lifestyle. There is a larger community who live full-time in their RVs and the regulations are more straightforward at this time.

TO SUMMARIZE, THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF PLANNING involved In building your own tiny home. However, if you establish a suitable location and comply with local codes and ordinances, there is a good chance you can create a quality, customized masterpiece, eco-friendly and possibly portable, with plenty of aesthetic appeals without a huge expense. The choice is yours!

Jim Shaffer & Associates, Darrin Roberts, 616.403.5710
www.SoldCallJim.com;
www.casscommunity.org (Tiny Homes Detroit project);
www.manta.com (building cost calculator;
www.thespruce.com
www.treehugger.com
www.thetinylife.com
www.easygliderstorage.com

By Lisa Howard

WHILE YOU WON’T FIND AN ARMADILLO IN THE WILD in Michigan, Berkley has its own version in the form of Armadillo Printwear, a screenprinting shop that has been serving residents of SouthEastern Michigan for nearly 30 years.

Owner Dave Lakatos initially started out producing custom tie-dye garments in 1992. Over the years, he and his staff have transitioned into a fulltime screen-printing shop, creating spiritwear, uniforms for sports teams, shirts for community events, and even gear for yacht clubs. “We do a lot for the School District, the Public Safety Department, the Parks & Recreation Department and the Chamber of Commerce,” says Jon Murrell, store manager. “We try to cater to everybody who comes through and we’re very community-focused.”

With four presses running in their tidy 2,000 square foot shop, the Armadillo team can print on anything that lies flat. They can also provide custom embroidery, which comes in particularly handy for restaurants and dispensaries and any business looking for employee uniforms. Occasionally, they print single-color posters, but 99.9 percent of their business is in clothing.

If you’ve attended Berkley annual events like the Berkley Street Art Fest or the Cruise Fest, you’ve seen T-shirts that were printed and designed by Armadillo – in addition to managing the store, Jon is also an artist, and is thrilled to work with the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce to create the shirts. “Seeing as we’re the ones who print the shirts for these events, I want to make sure the design looks as good as it possibly can,” Jon says. He designed the logo for the first Street Art Fest in 2017 as well as the 25th anniversary Cruise Fest shirt in 2021. (He also painted murals for the 2017 and 2018 Street Fest events.)

IN THE 16 YEARS JON HAS SPENT WORKING AT ARMADILLO, he says they’re busier than ever, surprising given the past two years. “We’re trying to keep on truckin’! It’d be great to get to the point where we can take a break, but for now we need to keep our heads down and keep printing shirts,” he says.

That uptick in orders has meant that Jon does less design work than usual, focusing more on production, although he’s still happy to create artwork. “A customer can give me a simple sketch on a restaurant napkin, and I can turn that into something,” he says. With a degree in fine art from Wayne State University and specializations in photo-realistic charcoal art and pen-and-ink-drawings, designing images and logos is second nature for Jon. Although he’s worked on a variety of interesting design projects during his time at Armadillo, his favorite was the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race – one year, Armadillo created both the event’s merchandising gear and poster designs.

“We just try to have really good-quality prints and we make sure that everybody who sees it knows where it comes from – we put our stickers on every box of shirts we send out,” says Jon.

So if you’re hankering for the sight of an armadillo in the neighborhood, keep your eyes open! You just might catch a (two-dimensional) glimpse of the adorable long-snouted, armored critter around town.

Armadillo Printwear | 3861 12 Mile Rd., Berkley, MI 48072
(248) 547-0490 | www.goarmadillo.com | jon@goarmadillo.com

By Rose Carver

HER NAME IS YEMISI BAMISAYE, AND SHE IS THE OWNER AND DESIGNER at African Fashions by Classic Expressions. Bamisaye was born in Nigeria and has been a student of fabric and design since the age of seven, when she taught her tiny fingers how to sew.

BAMISAYE, WHO ALSO HAS A DEGREE IN MICROBIOLOGY, specializes in African fabrics. What started as a hobby grew into a profession when she migrated to the United States 29 years ago. With her, she brought a passion for fabrics and the story behind the design.

Vibrant colors, natural shapes, and luxurious textures are common among the artistry of the fabrics at Bamisaye’s store, but this wasn’t always the case. Bamisaye’s first store was located at Tel-Twelve Mall in Southfield. She sold everything from pant suits to dresses of the more common variety, with some African fabrics available. Her shop has since moved to Oak Park on 9 Mile, and it is now exclusively African fashions and accessories.

“Our customers rely on us for authentic African fashions and fabrics,” Bamisaye said.

AFRICAN FABRIC PATTERNS ARE USUALLY BRIGHTLY COLORED, AND REPRESENT STORIES OF POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS RELEVANCE. Each color has a meaning, from red representing death, to blue signifying love and peace. Entering Bamisaye’s shop, you will learn the significance behind these patterns.

“Customers enjoy the fact that I can tell them the history behind some of the designs,” Bamisaye said.

Anyone can view the inventory of this Oak Park gem online at GlobalAfricanCreates.com. Dresses, head wraps, and skirts are available for purchase, as well as masks with African prints, for those looking to spice up their pandemic wardrobe.

African Fashions by Classic Expressions is
open to the public 11:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.,
Monday through Saturday 10820 West
9 Mile Road, in Oak Park.

 

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By Ginger Goldmine

OUR DIGS 2020 FEATURED HOME IS THE ROCK HOUSE, located in Ferndale at 519 W. Maplehurst.

Tamela Ekstrom and Evan Derian have lived here since 2011. Evan is an artist, graphic designer, and comic book creator. He creates a comic book/graphic novel series called Miserable Americans.

Tamela owns HAVEN Real Estate + Design, helping people buy and sell homes in our community. The design element to her business helps homeowners stage their properties to sell for more money.

What is one word you would use to describe your vibe or style?

TAMELA EKSTROM: Juxtapose: I like to mix furniture styles and textures to create a soulful space, artfully combining the aesthetics of modern decor with vintage spin. Flashes of metal next to rough wood. I think it’s all about balancing the space so it’s appealing to the eye. I don’t like anything too cluttered. I want that modern look to have a cozy feel. Visitors often say our home is even better in person. I usually pick some colors for a season and then curate the art from ours and our friends’ work. We are both artists, and somehow our work looks very good together. Evan can tell which color combos I’m starting to eye, and I get lucky and end up with pieces that work with that. Our home is ever-evolving. I feel space needs to be ever-changing to transform its inhabitants.

What are some design strategies you would share?

The homes in our neighborhoods were built in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and tend to have smaller rooms. So raising and widening doorways creates a whole new and airy space. I’m attracted to black or darker walls and moody spaces to sleep. I try to place the darker colors in satellite rooms, like bedrooms that are contained.

In our main space, I painted every wall a similar neutral shade. This opens up the small rooms so they flow into each other and appear larger. We recently updated the paint in a few rooms to a very light, warm color called “Gray Owl” from Ferndale’s Benjamin Moore dealer, Paint Stop. Colors contained within art and pillows absolutely pop in this hue.

I also raise the curtain rods above the windows and buy 95” curtains. This really lifts your eye up and visually creates a larger space. When we are selling homes at HAVEN we offer free staging advice, and one thing that creates compelling photos are when contrasting pops of color are used. This anchors photos and creates visual interest. Pick a color palette, match a couple of pillows with a print or art piece and suddenly you have an exciting visual story.

What are some of your favorite local artists?

I love Detroit artists and vendors! We are so lucky to have so many artists in our neighborhoods. Some that come to mind while I’m looking around my house:
• My hubby, Evan Derian (IG:@evan_k_derian) of course. He’s incredibly talented at illustration. He has his own graphic novels, but he also paints a lot of rock stars’ portraits and offers affordable, limited edition pieces.
Robert Mirek (IG:@robert_mirek) creates totem pieces out of many mediums. I find them mysterious and I’m always into his color combinations.
Eastworks Detroit (IG: @EastworksDetroit) satisfies my love for industrial lighting.
• My friend Karen Larson (IG:@karen.larson.patterns) is a graphic designer and creates patterns for custom wallpaper.
• My friend Susu (@Susu.Detroit) creates many different items, she’s now in a phase of making incredible purses and art from dolls and rough and shiny crystals. I have a piece with leather, chain, and a shard of raw crystal that is functional as a tiny vessel but also art. It’s so pretty I have it hanging on the wall and I stare at it all the time.

Do you have any special or semi-secret spots you frequent that you’d like to share?

Ok, this is big, because I’m giving up my favorite stores to you guys.

Nine Furniture and Design (IG:@ninefurnitureand design) hand-makes furniture and decor, and also sells vintage. So it’s pretty much one-stop shopping for me. I’m fascinated at how quickly Keith and Evan create these affordable, inspired pieces. I just received the curved whitewashed coffee table in the photo you see in this article. Another item hand-made by them is the large cross-hatch wood mirror you see in the living room photo.
• We have many pieces from Vogue Vintage (IG:@voguevintage). Their mid-century lighting, cabinets, tables, and chairs provide pieces to promote our modern aesthetic.
Western Market (IG: @westernmkt) for ferns for our porch and Featherstone Garden (IG:@featherstone.garden) for healthy houseplants.
Nadeau (IG:@nadeaudetroit) makes my heart beat real fast. When I moved here, I searched and searched for Asian style modern furniture, as I could find in San Francisco. After a few years, Nadeau opened up and I hope everyone shops there so they stay around forever. They have solid wood and metal furniture and home goods. I have lots of pieces from their industrial line.
Leah’s Closet (IG:@leahsclosetroyaloak) is my friend’s vintage clothing store, however, she also carries curated home items. I am constantly changing my barware, and I usually get it from Leah. I also bought these incredible beaded tassels I use on the silver glass shard lamps you see in the photos here. Sometimes she has some really great textiles and mid-century artwork as well. She’s great about posting on her Instagram.
• And then, I should mention one more shop I love, my friends’ Tanda and Lauren own Free Phoenix (IG:@shopfreephoenix). They have pillows, trays, glasses, throws, and art. Owner Tanda’s design sense is very organic and earthy and her curated pieces add texture and warmth to spaces.

YES, YOUR FURNITURE MAKES YOUR HOME DISTINCTIVE, whether you shop at Ikea or the Art Van going out of business sale. Painting in just the right color furthers the statement. Now it’s time for the cherry on the top: The right art.

The Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission (FACC) reminds you that there are many places in the city to select beautiful art. Long time favorites like the Lawrence Street Gallery shares Woodward with Level One Bank’s Community Arts Gallery. A more comprehensive list follows. Then, of course, there is the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and the DIY Street Fair (the DIY is canceled this year due to the health crisis).

What’s the difference between shopping at a gallery and at an art fair? Many art lovers do both as they each have an advantage. Galleries give you an ever-changing, carefully curated selection. You have one or two people that can learn your taste and preferences and help you find exactly what you are looking for. Many can even advise on the framing and matting, which can make a huge difference on how the piece appears.

Art Fairs are also curated, but don’t include the expert advice. Mark Loeb of the Funky Ferndale Art Fair suggests that there are some other advantages. “At art fairs you will meet the artist and have time for a conversation. I feel that a big reason people go to the fair is to get the full story of the art they plan to display. For example, when your friend comes by and admires your new sculpture, you can share the story of the artist. The experience of the art fair becomes a memory for you and your loved ones.”

Why not just buy art at those aforementioned furniture stores or even Walmart? You certainly could, and it likely will be simpler. You will have something that tens of thousands of others will also display. While not all art appreciates in value, no department store pictures ever will. And don’t forget that if you love art, supporting the artists becomes an important mission. Going to the shows is not demonstrating your love of art nearly as much as buying art. Only when you buy something do you actually support the artist, and allow them to continue creating.

What happens when your walls are full and there’s no space left on the floor? Many collectors rotate their art. Every month or season they replace a few items with another favorite. Others start buying smaller items that fit in between the cracks. Loeb suggests that the next step is to “replace your mugs, flower pots, dishes and more with items created by favorite artists. Why not have a table as individual as you are?”

By Colton Dale

THIS SPRING, THE CITY OF OAK PARK ANNOUNCED that it is moving forward with a concept to maintain and beautify the fencing on the overpass bridge on Coolidge Highway over I-696. The bridge fencing currently is old, mundane, and slightly dilapidated, like most overpass bridges in Michigan. This provides a less-than-stellar image on behalf of Oak Park to the thousands of motorists passing under this bridge every day.

Soon, though, that fencing will become the latest public infrastructure improvement in the City, helping Oak Park with branding, beautification, and its image. When completed, this overpass bridge will be similar to the one in Auburn Hills on University Drive over I-75, if you can picture it.

The project previously faced a funding hurdle, as construction costs continue to rise at a record pace due to labor shortages and federal steel tariffs. These issues caused City officials to take a second look at the plans. They were starting to wonder if it would be worth it to move forward with this project at all. Luckily, though, at the City Council Meeting on March 18, the project overcame its obstacles as City Council voted to fully fund the project and award a bid for construction to Z Contractors Inc. of Shelby Township.

THE ORIGINS OF THIS PROJECT BEGAN in September 2017 and stemmed from a necessity to fix parts of the bridge’s fencing that had become broken and potentially dangerous. It then grew into a desire by City officials to take this opportunity as one to brand and beautify the City via the improvement of public infrastructure. Throughout the unfolding of this concept, it became lumped in with other public infrastructure improvement projects the City has undertaken lately, such as the repainting of the water tower on Eleven Mile Road and the Nine Mile Redesign. The City prides itself on its proactive efforts to improve and modernize the infrastructure we see and use every day.

“Branding is important for our community in terms of attracting new residents and businesses. Taking advantage of this opportunity to create a distinct impression by marketing ourselves to the thousands of motorists who use I-696 every day to commute through Oak Park is a good business move,” said City Manager Erik Tungate. “Cities that take on these kinds of quality of life improvements are cities that are typically thriving. It is no longer enough to rest on our laurels. We have to seize every chance we can to establish ourselves as a unique place to live and work.”

The project will cost approximately $628,000, with the vast majority being funded by the City’s Major Streets Fund. The project is broken down into two phases. The first phase is the fabrication of the metal design, which is expected to take about two months. Shortly thereafter, the second phase will begin, which is the construction phase to affix the fabricated metal design onto the overpass bridge, expected to begin mid-summer.

MOTORISTS CAN EXPECT MINOR LANE CLOSURES DURING THE WORK to affix the metal fabrication to the bridge, potentially on both Coolidge Highway and I-696. All lane closures will be communicated out by the City.

“Now, when travelers pass under Coolidge on I-696, what they see is barren-looking cyclone fencing. Soon this entryway to the City of Oak Park will look inviting with an attractive new fencing design and lights,” said Mayor Marian McClellan.

“Just as realtors stress the importance of curb appeal when selling a house because of the importance of a good first impression, the City will be making a great first impression on passers-by, visitors, and potential residents.”

If all goes as planned, the project is anticipated to wrap up in the Fall.

Note: Due to some confusion, it is important to note that this is an entirely separate overpass bridge than the one with Victoria Park on it that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be replacing in 2024 due to leaks. ■