Parallel Transformations at the JLD Designers’ Show House

The Lo & Bo Wine Cellar by Sienna & Carter Oosterhouse. A fasinating study in material, texture and detail.


“As a man who loves all things Michigan, Detroit is on the top of the list,” says lifestyle expert and TV personality, Carter Oosterhouse, “growing up in Michigan I always knew of the [Charles T. Fisher] mansion…Now, numerous talented designers are having an opportunity of a lifetime to work on a true treasure of Detroit.” Every other year the Junior League of Detroit hosts their largest fundraiser, the JLD Designers’ Show House, bringing together over 30 designers to transform a property of significance into a showcase of Detroit’s and America’s design talent. This year’s house, the historic English Tudor-style Charles T. Fisher Mansion, is on track to be the most exciting yet.

Detroit is in the midst of recapturing its title as a design powerhouse and the UNESCO City of Design designation was a big step in this direction. As a mainstay of modernist design the stage was set long ago for strength within Detroit’s design community; an exciting, vibrant community with a perspective unlike anywhere else. Both Detroit’s and the Show House’s transformations are well underway and the parallels between the two are palpable.

Like present-day Detroit, the 2018 Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House:

The Garden of Eden 2nd Floor Guest Bedroom by Designer Courtney Mcleod of Right Meets Left Design. A colorful and feminine fantasy with an Art Deco flair.


Is Bold and Creative

“I am blown away by the level of creativity and individuality in each designer’s room, and love the trend of bold color and large-scale pattern throughout,” says Courtney McLeod, Principal of New York-based Right Meets Left Interior Design. McLeod and team transformed their space from one with no walls, ceiling or floor to a light-flooded luxurious ladies lounge with a flair for Art Deco. Incorporating Aux Abris’ graphic and saturated wall covering, “Garden of Eden” as well as a custom marble mosaic feature wall, McLeod makes a “pure expression of joyfully maximalist design.” Her space also shows a curated selection of art from locals including Senghor Reid, Roy Feldman, Elizabeth Youngblood and Malt. “Detroit is clearly in the early stages of a renaissance, led by a vibrant and artistically gifted creative community,” says McLeod.

Embraces its History

Howard Elliott is working with several designers involved in the Show House donating décor and accessories from its collection to help each design team achieve its vision. “It is a labor of love to be restoring [this] architectural masterpiece…everyone has committed themselves to being respectful to the history of the mansion and the city,” says Cheryl Bever in Graphics and Media. Howard Elliott has contributed accessories and small furnishings to, among others, Iron Key Designs’ Garden Bathroom, where the design vision is the perfect balance of the historic homes tectonics – including beautiful arched windows to the garden – and contemporary living. “The revival of the Fisher Mansion mirrors the revival of this great city.”

Is Modern and Relevant

Jeff Garland, the Show House photographer, describes the transformation taking place as a “wonderful, modern vibe and flow wrapped in [a] traditional Tudor exterior. The time is right to do this in Detroit with all the new development happening down Woodward Avenue.” Two new kitchens and seven new bathrooms bring an elevated and innovative element to the home. Formal public spaces meet private family spaces, many of which have been “reinterpret[ed] to suit the lifestyle of a modern family,” says Liana Dabir, co-chair of the JLD Designers’ Show House. “The level of talent and commitment from the designers is amazing to witness and such a pleasure to watch.”

Motown Rhapsody in Blues by Julia Buckingham. It’s bright and playful with a nod to Detroit’s Motown history.


Is Inspirational

“The Fisher Mansion has been completely transformed and the process has been dramatic. From the first day that my team and i entered the house for the designer breakfast, it seemed so tired and a bit gloomy. Now it feels so fresh, modern and happier!”, says Julia Buckingham of Buckingham Interiors. “The design inspiration for the “Rhapsody in Blues” dining room began with the architectural style and the history of the house. Paying homage to these important pieces- and adding to this, the location and it’s important “City of Motown” location led the charge to my inspiration. Of course, the room had to have the Modernique® aesthetic that defines my design philosophy of using both modern and antique elements.” Julia has recognized the overall transformation of the city of design and its powerful design emergence, “The excitement that we have felt for the Show house and its design inspiration on each of our visits into town have made us even more excited to participate. The reverence with which the Detroit community has for its new place on the map as a city resurrected is such a source of pride- no more gloomy old mansions here!”

Secret Garden Room by CLOTH & KIND. Old world antiques and vintage finds with modern art and lush textiles.


Is Swanky and Chic

The design firm CLOTH & KIND, helmed by Krista Nye Nicholas and Tami Ramsay, is responsible for what was once the home’s breakfast area, “We had the creative freedom to re-envision the functionality of this charming space. A swanky parlor, just off the formal dining room seemed only fitting,” says Nicholas. The duo brings together a curatorial mix of antiques, vintage finds, modern art and lush textiles, including Fromental’s “Braque in Cap Ferrat” wall covering, a custom Pagoda-Style lantern by vanCollier – the inclusion of which stemmed from the discovery of original oriental miniature paintings in the space – and a gorgeous antique rug. “It’s been amazing to watch the home spring back to life with loving attention from Hill Harper, the Junior League of Detroit, ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME and, of course, all of the talented interior designers and craftspeople that have been working tirelessly towards the opening of the show house.”

The Nanny’s Room by Jennifer Schoenberger Design. Southern, Sophisticated, Sexy.


Is Proud and Sentimental

“I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I visit to work on my space, taking note of all of the historical and architectural details [of the home],” says Jennifer Schoenberger of Atlanta-based J. Schoenberger Design. A native of Detroit, she melds her Motor City historical perspective with her predilection for Southern style in the design of the Nanny’s Room. This is a special project taking her back to her very proud roots; roots that include shopping at Hudson’s and Sanders hot fudge sundaes. “I truly believe our time has come…Ford motor purchasing the Michigan Central Depot was a major moment for the city and a big indicator we are turning the corner.”

Detroit’s renaissance is long in the making and has provided the perfect backdrop for a Show House of utmost creativity and spirit. “It’s really amazing to see the changes that have taken place over the last 10 years,” says Oosterhouse, “we have a huge opportunity to make a great city even better.”

All Show House photography is courtesy of Jeff Garland Photography

Buy your tickets to the Show House here. 

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