sneak peek: meghan mcewen of designtripper

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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upstairs in 20 years, meaning the bones of the house were solid and well cared for, but everything else was woefully outdated.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.

Beclu

Love their house! I think it might be my favie so far of all the sneak peaks you’ve posted. Thanks!

Sara

Lovely home and lots of inspiration – Great kids room wall; slate? kitchen floor, love. And that Gus sofa, it looks better and better every time I see it.

Kris K.

Where did you get that green & blue rug in the Family room? Love it!

Rebecca

Wow, how lovely and what a great story! What is that incredible wall color in the first picture with the pheasant plates?

Alessandra Olanow

and that red standing lamp beside your bed? where is that from?

Rebecca Wilson

I love everything about this house! I follow Designtripper’s blog as well, so it is neat to see where the creator(s) reside. Very nice.

Ingrid

There is some clarification needed here: Abigail Newbold is still an artist! She used to be based in Detroit, MI, and now lives elsewhere. (She has moved away from fiber art to do more sculpture/installation type art, I believe.)

susie

Love this sneak peek! I really love all the stories told about the objects in the house. So beautiful and real. I feel like I could just move in tomorrow!

Karen

Love the gray color in the first picture. It is (surprisingly) warm and comfy. The pheasants just add to the charm.

Carol

I love the “wallpaper” in the children’s bedroom, even with help I’ll bet that took a long time to paint…almost as long as piecing a quilt!

Meenal @ maison marigold

Such a lovely home ..so much personality…a lot to love in here..thanks for sharing..have a lovely day..do visit my blog when you have a moment..xx meenal

kelly

i want to know about the blue/green rug too- it stands out so much I cant believe they didnt mention it! I want it~!

Lynn

I hope that I can create a home – when all the “basics” have finally been finished – as wonderfully personal and creative and clearly loved as this one is!

Rachel Mowrey

Any way you could site the paint color in the first photo? I have the exact same color woodwork in my house and have had the worst time finding a nice grey that doesn’t clash!

Sarah

Wow! I never would have believed that the grays and wood trim would work so well together. Very nice, creative house.

Juliana

Wow, I literally just finished framing a tapestry just like your orange mexican tapestry. I found it in a thrift store and was wondering about its origin. Mine is nearly identical but blue and a wasp and a two headed fish type thing and the same goat? with the plants growing out of its legs. do you know where I can find any info about it?

Also I love every bit of the your home, especially the children’s room and family room. Beautiful yet lived in a comfy!

Stef

gah! This is hugely inspiring. I’m a resident of metro Detroit and work downtown. I adore the city and constantly look for a way to buy a place downtown, either in Indian Village or Corktown. I love seeing such amazing talent and hidden gems in our hometown.

manchmal

Wondering (like Kris K) where you got your different textured rug from?

Meghan

Wow, thank you all so much for the sweet comments!

The paint color in the first photo is Cityscape by Sherwin Williams.

The rug came from Anthropologie, but sadly, I don’t think it’s for sale anymore.

And Ingrid: You’re absolutely right! (I wrote these captions with a temperature of 102 and am now picking up a few things that I should have better clarified.) Abby is a friend and most definitely still an artist–a very talented one! Her Home Maker series is my favorite. She will be greatly missed in Detroit.

Meghan

guttercherry

Did she happen to tell you who and where that amazing blue and green shaded rug came from?

Suzanne

Meghan, I love every wall color and the happy feel of your home. You should design trip on over to Gunnison, CO and advise me on my house!

maureen

hi-
i’m curious if your concrete countertop on the island was a DIY. if not, any advice for choosing a contractor? also, what type of tile is on the kitchen floor? great home! one of my favorites in awhile. have a wonderful afternoon-
maureen

meg

Juliana — the embroidered piece is Mexican otomi.

Marta

I absolutely adore the last photo: the Moooi light, the cute wood table and the Eames armchairs (I love them so much that I wrote a post of them in my blog!)

Thanks for sharing!

ashley suzanne

love it. love all the color choices and decor, and that colorful triangles wall in the kids bedroom/playroom is amazing!

Jan

I love love love all the quilts, blankets and pillows!

ana isabel

Love this home…I love the rug in the living room, I couldn’t find where it was from, do you know? Thanks

okmosa

Hi! Wondering where the bed/headboard is from with the hexagonal quilt on it. LOVE that quilt! (and the headboard…)

Hannah @ DentShifter

Wow what a beautiful home! I love the sofa, it looks so comfy. The typewriter is a lovely touch, a great collection of old and new pieces. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into making the place look this good!

mixette

What an incredibly beautiful and personal home. So many great pieces with equally great stories or memories. And I’m totally with you on the Cole & Sons Woods wallpaper; it always looks good to me no matter when or where or how many times I see it!

rebecca

The kids room is just so wonderful. I love the triangles and the bedding and the beds. It looks perfect. AND of course the dining room and the wonderful tree wallpaper are perfect. Everything looks comfortable.

Sarah Jane

I love all the subtle yet fun details. Any hint of the color of the pheasant wall? We’re doing some grays in our home and I really love the ones chosen here. And that hexagonal quilt is gorgeous! Inspiring…

Gina

Love that kids’ room! Those triangles are great!

I also love that hexagonal quilt…the colors are gorgeous.

Erin

Oh wow… Gorgeous. I love the aesthetic of this home. Fantastic!!!

I think we need a bit more of a tutorial for that triangle wall. Grace: any chance you’d get Meghan to do a tutorial for a future post?

Loora

My favorite so far. I can’t see a thing I don’t like. So well balanced. Every photo went into my “inspiration files” (is that ok ?).

I’m so disappointed that the rug doesn’t sell anymore. It’s amazing, and the room’s perfect !

just curious

i like the rugs and wall colors, but are the plates in the first picture supposed to be so noticeably skewed? the last plate is significantly further to the left than the top one. just saying, if you’re going to hang something for aesthetic purposes…

RachelD

Your house is wonderful! I love the mix of cool tones on the walls that set off the brightness of your art collection and fun finds. The painting above your bed is beautiful. Does your friend have a website?

liz

omg….those jenny lind beds! how sweet! and the wall of color, i love, love, love it!

blueflowervintage

I absolutely love this house. It is so thought out and pretty with all those sweet details and color and imagination. I have always wanted to live in one of those Victorians in Corktown. I thought it would be nice to have 2 of the crooked little houses together and build a passage between them. They are like a dream. This house is like a dream. Thank you for posting this!

mod

holy nuts. that painted, graphic wall is really something.

elaine edelson

Love y0ur color palette.. What is the great gray paint color used in the living area with gray sofa?

Anne

Especially love the wallpaper in the kids room. Thank you for inspiring me!

Kim

Love that you kept your woodwork natural. Thank you! Great job honoring the historic integrity of the home while introducing a modern eclectic sensibility. I’ve been scouring the Internet for months for inspiration on the paint colors and have finally found it. Would you please share all of your paint colors?

Kreh Mellick

* love your kid’s wall.

am also recreating in house.
did not read about your cardboard tip
until much later. but seems much better than all of the layout i was about to do.
woot! woot!

thanks.

Jax

Where did you source that lovely bed? Yes, the whole house is lovely indeed. I’m super jealous of your Arne Jacobsen AJ lamp score! That is my dream lamp.

cécile

Oh well that’s just too nice! i’m very happy our wallpaper has inspired you and the result is gorgeous…it musn’t have been very easy to make, so well done!
We do need to find a way to lower our costs, because we’d like our range to be more affordable, it’s a work in progress!

bl

What is the grey in the living room area? The one with the Andy Krieger picture?
Is it the same Cityscape as the first photo?

Danielle

I would love to know the colors too. I hate my wood trim and leather sofas but they have to stay.

Marie

I would like the name&brand of paint color grey that looks so good with the warm woodwork.

Peggy

I also love the textures of the blue and green rug. Is the rug still available and where was it purchased? You can see the love that went into creating this home!

Ellie

What is the name of the grey used in the living are w/ the charcoal sketch and “couch to match”?

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