before and after

before & after: detroit design studio

by Kate Pruitt

I keep hearing about cool design and small business-related happenings in Detroit, and consequently, the city has rocketed to the top of my must-visit list. It’s a city with many beautiful old buildings, and designers are flocking there to turn neglected, empty spaces into thriving creative communities. This is one such space, and I love what Claire and her team at Model D have done with it. They’ve kept many of the original touches intact but lightened and brightened the space, bringing in a mix of modern and salvaged furniture to add warmth and personality to the room. Nice work, guys! — Kate

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Time: one month

Cost: $5000

Basic Steps: We whitewashed the walls; dusted off the mantels and moldings; found vintage furniture, art and accents from local Detroit shops; and swapped out the dark shades for white curtains. The space had beautiful features — two handsome fireplaces, gorgeous old wood pocket doors — but the muddy wall colors made it feel dark and dingy. By lightening the walls and opening up the windows, we brightened up the space without losing its historic charm. No major alterations were made, just some simple touches to breathe new life into a great old space.

Shop local, buy reused whenever possible, keep it simple. Over time, I’m sure we will add more art and fixtures, but keeping it spare makes it feel more spacious and elegant. Enlist the help of local merchants who can help you find unique odds and ends. Be willing to do a little refurb or repair in exchange for a good deal. And if you’re relying on the generosity of friends for cleaning and arranging (as we did), it never hurts to have good tunes on the iPod and beer in the fridge!

We wanted it to feel like an old-school publishing house or literary salon in a London townhouse or Parisian apartment, but with local Detroit artifacts so there’s no mistaking where you are! The clocks, pillows and prints all express our midwestern geography, which was very important to us. — Claire

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