Recently, we were lucky enough to have Meghan McEwen of Designtripper give us a special report from New Orleans during a design-centric road trip, and today, we’re thrilled to have her back for a sneak peek of her Detroit home. The old Victorian house, built in 1893, is located in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. There had only been two previous owners before Meghan and her husband, Ryan Cooley, scored the place. In fact, the previous owner was a woman in her 90s who hadn’t been upstairs in 20 years, meaning the bones of the house were solid and well cared for, but everything else was woefully outdated. Eight months of rehab, six years and two kids later, this is what they’ve got! Thanks so much, Meghan and Ryan, and to Gregory Holm for the wonderful photographs! — Anne
Image above: I’ve been collecting pheasant plates for a couple years (pheasants run wild in Detroit!), and I recently put some of my favorites on the wall in the dining room. We found a handful of antique chairs in the basement when we bought the house. This one is the best one of the bunch — a little off-kilter but perfectly distressed (I pulled the top piece of wood off the seat, so it’s really rough). I love all these old pieces that were left behind. They’re like welcome, friendly ghosts of owners past.
Image above: Former Detroit fiber artist Abigail Newbold made this beautiful quilt. She uses old pieces of clothing and fabric, and in this instance, she used hexagonal shapes for the pattern. My friend (and seriously amazing baker, who’s opening Astro Coffee in a few weeks with her husband) Jessica Hicks painted these feathers hanging above my bed. The photograph next to my bed was taken by fellow Detroiter Jim Griffieon of a neon installation, previously up at MOCAD, that read “Everything is going to be alright.”
CLICK HERE for more of Meghan and Ryan’s home!
Image above: We bought the credenza for a song from a local antique mall right after we moved into the house six years ago. I’ve always had to keep my grandmother’s china in a box in the closet or storage, and I wanted an accessible place for it to live so we could use it regularly. Above the credenza, a super-whimsical print by Studio Violet, a photo of the Ice House by photographer Greg Holm, and a collection of assorted personal objects, including a glove mold from my hometown in Ohio (passed on to me by my oldest childhood friend’s grandmother) and a set of three wooden trays made by our friends behind the furniture company Rosco Jackson.
Image above: We eat dinner as a family around this dining room table every night, and it’s the same table that I grew up eating dinner around with my brothers and sisters as a kid. The legs are old, spindly and perfectly worn, but the top has been nearly destroyed from so many years of abuse (it’s linoleum!). So I covered it with this crocheted tablecloth I found on eBay. I use mix-and-match chairs around the dining table. And I wanted that Cole & Sons Woods wallpaper for years before finally splurging. I know it’s over-saturated at this point, but I don’t care — I love it as much as I did when it went up three years ago. The chandelier is original to the house, although it was a tarnished brassy wreck (and not in a good way), so I painted it white.
Image above: Many of these tiny pieces of art are really special, and I love being greeted by them every time we walk through the front door. The Mexican tapestry came from a trip to Sayulita with our family. The needlework is by Chicago artist Danny Mansmith, who is so incredibly talented and humble. I bought it when I was writing a story about him, and it reminds me of the 10 years we lived in Chicago before moving to Detroit and starting a family. Ryan’s grandfather, Francis, was a great naturalist and bird-lover, and this carved wooden bird belonged to him. The chair came with the house. We found it in the basement, and I spruced it up with a coat of red paint. I purposely left the paint uneven, so it retained that charming weathered look.
Image above: Our family room is in the middle of the house, so it can get pretty dark. As a result, it’s now the room with the brightest colors! The sofa is by Gus, and we bought it from our friend Joe, who owned an amazing furniture shop in Detroit called Mezzanine. We got the Moooi Random light there, too. The two embroidered pillows came from a trip to Mexico, and the other is the result of an experimental sewing project. The quilt, one of my most prized possessions, was made by my great-great Grandma.
Image above: The sofa in the living room was another goodie we picked up with the house. I loved the clean-lined shape of it, and the idea that we could give it a second life in the same house. I had it reupholstered to match the walls. The lamp is by Tom Dixon. I have very few designer pieces, but I definitely have a thing for lighting. Ryan’s brother, Phil, made us the coffee table/bench during an iron-working class a few years ago. The charcoal drawing above the sofa was a Christmas present from me to Ryan. We were at the art opening, and Ryan immediately decided that he wanted to buy “Heartbroken Giant.” I scurried over to the artist, Andy Krieger, and pretended to inquire but instead whispered that I wanted to surprise Ryan with it. I reported back to Ryan that it had already been sold. He was crushed! Andy made me a miniature replica (which we still have) to give to Ryan on Christmas morning.
Image above: You can’t see the entire behemoth of an island, but the centerpiece of our kitchen is an humungous cement-topped island right in the middle of the room. I wanted a gigantic workspace for everything from baking pies to Lego-building. We do tons of entertaining, and it’s the place where everyone pulls up a stool to eat, drink and talk — which is why I have a stack of extra stools sitting in the corner. On the shelf above, my collection of white ceramics with a few shots of bling (a Jonathan Adler vase for my anniversary and acorns that Cass paints).
Image above: This is my favorite room in the house: Cass and Ollie’s magical bedroom/playroom (the latter is on the other side of the camera — and a big, glorious mess!). They just moved in together a few months ago, and we pushed the beds together so Ollie, who’s two-years-old, doesn’t fall out. I had been obsessing over some French wallpaper by Minakani (that I spotted on Dos Family), but it was out of my price range, especially for a kids’ room, so I decided to recreate it myself. I cut a cardboard triangle and traced it over and over and over, then painted each square (big notation: I had tons of help!) with mostly leftover colors I already had in the basement. I scored the antique Jenny Lind beds on Craigslist (the owner, a mother of two boys who had recently outgrown the beds, made me promise not to paint them). Cass’ duvet is made from Marimekko fabric; Ollie’s quilt was made by my great-great grandma; and the blanket at the end of Cass’ bed was my first-ever knitting project.
Image above: I love the juxtaposition of the Moooi Random light (a gift from Ryan) against the old, intricate spool-and-spindle ornament in the doorway. I scored big with this Arne Jacobsen lamp — found it broken and marked down to $75 at the DWR outlet in Ohio and had it rewired by an electrician buddy. That was an exciting day. The tree slice came from Ryan’s grandfather’s wood shop (he used to build dollhouses). I added legs from IKEA to make it a cute little table.