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Interiorssneak peeks

A Blending of Vintage & Modern Styles Cements A Growing Relationship

by Kelli Kehler

You could say that the home of Diana Marsh and Matt Finney has almost always been a constant in their relationship, or something that’s treaded on pace with the progression of their union over time. When Diana returned home to Ann Arbor, MI after teaching elementary school in Brooklyn for 11 years, she cemented this new phase of her life by buying her first home after years of renting. The beginnings of Diana and Matt’s relationship took root soon after, as they clinked their margaritas together in a cheers to Diana’s offer on the house being accepted — this was on their third date. Now two years later, Matt, who previously lived 45 minutes away in Detroit, has moved in with Diana, and the couple recently got engaged.

Incorporating Matt’s belongings into the 1912 home’s 1,000-square-foot space was a bit of a challenge, considering Diana and Matt are both collectors of various items, and their visions for functionality in specific rooms differed — like Matt’s desire to put a toaster oven on the kitchen counter (spoiler alert: he won). “Once we worked out logistics like closet space and toaster ovens, we got to focus on the more fun design elements of the house,” Diana shares. “Each of us prioritized the things that were the most important to us, or our ‘must-have’ items. We then worked together to create a space that made us both happy.” The resulting melange is a pleasing display of Matt’s more modern style (he’s a graphic artist with a passion for modern art) and Diana’s leanings toward vintage and antique fixtures.

One of the best parts of the couple’s Water Hill neighborhood is its walkability to downtown bars, restaurants and Diana’s jewelry and lifestyle boutique, Thistle & Bess. “Living and working in the same community is so wonderful, as you really form deep connections with your neighbors and feel fully invested in seeing the community thrive and succeed,” Diana says.

Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the couple’s now-shared home is the stunning mural they commissioned in their entryway by close friend Kimmy Scafuro. The bright and welcoming display of flowers was painted well into their relationship yet before Matt moved into the home, perhaps foreshadowing the building’s new status as a place that represented them both. All told, this mutual accommodation of each other’s unique styles brought forth a design epiphany of sorts for the both of them. “When decorating your home, focus on items that you have a connection to and actually love instead of trying to find things that ‘go together,'” Diana advises. “Displaying things that actually mean something to you allows your personality to shine through and gives a real sense of life to a space.” A solid piece of design philosophy seen throughout this eclectic and warm home. —Kelli

Photography by Cat Carty Buswell / @catcartybuswell

Image above: “Walking through the front door and seeing our floral mural by Kimmy Scafuro brings us pure happiness and cheer,” Diana begins. “Michigan has very long, grey winters, so although most of the walls in the house are white, we wanted to make sure that we brought in bright pops of color wherever we could. After looking at hundreds of wallpapers for the entryway, we instead decided to have Kimmy, who is one of our closest friends, paint the mural. She researched all of my favorite flowers and helped us settle on a color palette. She then came from Philadelphia for a week to paint. We could not be [happier] with how it turned out.”

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The entryway, and another peek of Kimmy’s floral mural. Of combining her and Matt’s styles, Diana says, “When Matt moved in to the house that I renovated and designed on my own, it was important that we redecorated it in a way that felt like both of us. We really wanted to make sure that both of our styles were represented. Art was our main way of doing this. Matt has a rather large collection of modern art. He chose the pieces that he loved the most and then we worked together to find which of those pieces would fit best in our spaces. We also decided to purchase some art together, that spoke to both of our tastes and melded our collections.”

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“It took artist Kimmy Scafuro a week of painting to finish this custom mural. She repeated the floral pattern to mimic the repeat of a wallpaper, adding fun details, like ladybugs, throughout,” Diana notes.

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“When Matt and I moved in together, our goal was to combine our own distinct styles into one cohesive space. One challenge was lack of physical space in our relatively small home, especially when it came to closet space and Matt’s huge sneaker collection.”

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“Of all the spaces in our home, we find that people like to congregate the most at our dining room table,” Diana shares. “When I renovated the house, we removed the wall between the dining room and kitchen and it has created a wonderful open space, perfect for entertaining. The dining room table also provides a great view of the first piece of art that we purchased together as a couple, a modern piece by Detroit artist Ellen Rutt.”

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“The living room is a perfect example of our design compromise as a couple. The vintage portraits of the ladies were one of my ‘must-have items’ and the new record shelf for Matt’s turntable and vinyl collection was on his list of ‘must-haves.’ Now we actually spend way more time in this room than we did before, listening to records and actually enjoying the portraits on the wall.”

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Matt, selecting a record to take for a spin on his turntable.

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“Communication and compromise were key to creating a space where both of our styles are represented,” Diana shares. “We are so happy with how our little cozy, eclectic space turned out.” The couple plans to get married in Detroit this summer.

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The combined dining and kitchen space.

Instead of trying to stay in one style or theme, we just try to think of our house as an eclectic collection of items that bring us joy and tell our story.

 

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Diana shares, “It was a fun challenge to combine Matt’s modern pieces with my antique collection. Somehow pairing a KAWS Companion figure and a Staffordshire dog ended up working to create our own version of a cabinet of curiosities. Showcasing the items that we love together, even though they may not ‘go’ together, has made our home feel unique.”

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“For some reason I was pretty adamant about having a mint green refrigerator,” Diana says. “I researched high and low to find the perfect color and size for our kitchen. In the end, I ended up going with the Retropolitan model by Big Chill. It was a bit of a gamble, because I only saw a sample of the color before purchasing the fridge. We couldn’t love it more. It adds the perfect pop of color in an otherwise classic, white kitchen.”

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“Matt is a big fan of the artists Faile, from Brooklyn, NY. This original collage of theirs, which is made on a found book cover, has the perfect soft, pastel color palette that ended up being a great complement to the fridge. The open storage over the fridge was another design decision to allow us to show off some of our favorite items. The gold trophy was a housewarming gift from a dear friend and the little lady planter is made by Two Hold Studios and purchased at a local shop, Found.”

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Diana shares, “I had originally purchased this antique pink light fixture to be hung in the entryway, but it ended up being too long for the space. It had been sitting in the basement, as I just hadn’t found the right spot for it. One night during a dinner party, we started discussing the light fixture and my guests decided that we should have an impromptu light installation over the sink. It ended up being the absolute perfect place to showcase this beautiful piece (and a fun dinner party as well). Also pictured is the toaster oven that sparked a big debate between Matt and I. In the end, I compromised and now we have great toasty bread at dinner!”

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“While renovating the home we found out some interesting things about its history,” Diana says. “While restoring the stone work on the front porch, the stone mason discovered that the materials and techniques used to originally build the house seemed older than the 1912 date written on the paperwork. Upon further research, we found that there was a fire at City Hall in 1912 that destroyed a ton of records, so the house could indeed be older. We also found a strange and rather old safe in the basement floor and a ring hidden in one of the walls.”

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Another example of the couple’s blending of styles here in the back room of the main floor. Diana explains, “Originally there were antique prints hanging over the sofa in this space, but they were removed to make room for one of Matt’s favorite pieces, which is an original painting, ‘Spill,’ by artists Faile. Although the style is much more modern than a lot of other pieces in the room, the pastel color palette ties in well with the rest of the decor.”

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“The gold art print, ‘Balance of Power,’ by Cleon Peterson is another piece from Matt’s art collection that ended up fitting really well in this space. The mantel was purchased at the Detroit Antique Mall and was originally covered in paint. Stripping it revealed the most gorgeous quarter sawn oak. We ended up mounting our TV inside the mantel, since city code does not allow us to have a working fireplace, which made more room to display art.”

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This shelf in the living room continues the merging of two distinct styles, where books on Victorian jewelry mingles with a Companion figure by artist KAWS.

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“Our favorite thing about our home is how we have combined our own distinct styles into one cozy eclectic space.” –Diana and Matt

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“The back portion of the first floor, including the powder room, was a small addition put on the house during the renovation. The black and white cement tile is by Cement Tile Shop and makes a bold, graphic statement. The powder room is also home to a retired ‘OBEY Monogram’ stencil collage by artist Shepard Fairey,” Diana says.

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Upstairs, the main bedroom now houses a king bed – an upgrade from the queen size Diana had before Matt moved in. It’s not uncommon to catch Pippa the Brussels Griffon, and cats Dilla and Vector snoozing here.

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“The graphic prints above our bed are by artist Steve Powers,” Diana says. “Matt used the line from this piece, ‘Your everafter is all I’m after,’ when he proposed to me this past December.”

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Diana shares, “The wallpaper in our bathroom is Brooklyn Toile by Flavor Paper. It looks like a traditional toile from afar, but when you look closer it depicts a modern scene of Brooklyn, NY, including Coney Island and the Notorious B.I.G.”

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“Because we went wild with pattern on the walls and floor in the bathroom, we kept everything else pretty simple with a black vanity and gold fixtures.”

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A peek at the guest bedroom, also located upstairs. “This grey chair was originally in the living room, but we moved it to make room for the record shelf. We love how it works in this room and so do our cats, who are frequently found napping on it.”

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“Matt moved in with two cats, Dilla and Vector. They have quickly taken to their new home, although they are still slowly warming up to their dog sister, Pippa. Dilla acts as king of the castle, keeping watch over the neighborhood from various windows around the house,” Diana says.

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Back downstairs, another look at the beautiful wall mural in the home’s entryway. “The floral mural keeps our house feeling bright and cheery, even during the cold, grey winter months in Michigan.”

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Diana recalls, “When planning for the mural, artist Kimmy Scafuro asked me to provide images of my favorite flowers. I created a list of my favorite blooms, including nasturtium, anemones, poppies, peonies and chamomile. Kimmy added the insects as a quirky little surprise.”

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The home’s exterior. “Our home in the Water Hill neighborhood of Ann Arbor was built around 1912. When the house was renovated we replaced the deteriorating siding with cement siding in this color that is technically grey, but can read as blue and green in different light. We were going to originally paint the Cedar Shake white, but I ended up loving the contrast of the natural wood.”

SOURCE LIST

Exterior
James Hardie Cement Siding – Iron Gray

Entryway
Hand Painted Floral Mural – Kimmy Scafuro
Paint – “Pure White,” Sherwin-Williams
Rug – Dash & Albert
Light Fixture – Circa Lighting
Fox Print – Mary Maguire
Fiddle Leaf Fig Art Print – Banquet Workshop
Royal Tenenbaum Portraits – Kimmy Scafuro
Paris Paint by Number – Vintage
“Pierced” Figure – Parra

Living Room
Paint – “Pure White,” Sherwin-Williams
Love Seat – Schoolhouse Electric
Sofa – Jonathan Adler
Record Shelf – CB2
Coffee and side table – West Elm
Custom Light Fixture – Lead Head Glass
Mitford Sister Portraits – Vintage
Rug – West Elm
Hand Lamp – Anthropologie
Pink Pillows – Banquet Workshop
Floral Pillow – House of Hackney
Shapes Pillow – Minna Goods
Paper Flowers – The Striped Petal
Gold Planter – West Elm
Floor Lamp – Jonathan Adler
Record Speakers – Kanto
Turntable – Technic 1200

Kitchen
Paint – “Pure White,” Sherwin-Williams
Light Fixtures over stove – Schoolhouse Electric
Pink Light Fixture – Antique
Refrigerator – Retropolitan, Big Chill
Potted Plants Art Print – Worthwhile Paper
“Size of the Fight” Collaged Art – Faile
Flower Paint by Number – Vintage

Powder Room
Paint – “Wrought Iron,” Benjamin Moore, “Pure White,” Sherwin-Williams
Sconces – Schoolhouse Electric
Tile – Cement Tile Shop
Mirror – Schoolhouse Electric
“OBEY Monogram” Retired Stencil – Shepard Fairey

Main Bathroom
Paint – “Pure White,” Sherwin-Williams
Wallpaper – Brooklyn Toile by Flavor Paper
Sconces – Schoolhouse Electric
Mirror – Pottery Barn
Shower Curtain – Kate Spade

Guest Bedroom
Paint – “Aloof Gray,” Sherwin-Williams
Bed – Anthropologie
Bedding – Matteo Home
Desk/ Chair – West Elm
Dresser – Target
OBEY Art Print – Shepard Fairey
“Fin” Original Art – Pose
Woodstock Figure – KAWS

Main Bedroom
Paint – “Portland Gray,” Benjamin Moore
Bed – West Elm
Side Table – West Elm
Dresser – Purchased at the Michigan Design Center
Bedding – West Elm
Pillows – Leah Singh
Heart Art Print – Banquet Workshop
“Everything is Shit” and “Everafter” Prints – Steve Powers
Chair – Oly

Dining Room
Paint – “Pure White,” Sherwin-Williams
Table – West Elm
Green Chairs – Target
Velvet Chairs – Anthropologie
Rug – Vintage
Bench – Custom
Original Art – Ellen Rutt
Companion Figures – KAWS
Gold Planter – West Elm

Back Room
Paint – Pure White, Sherwin Williams
Bar Cart – Anthropologie
Tile – Cement Tile Shop
Mantel – antique
“Balance of Power” Print – Cleon Peterson
Chair – Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (with custom fabric)
Floor Lamp – Target
Sectional Sofa – Purchased at the Michigan Design Center
Eye Pillow – Coral & Tusk
Pillows – Minna Goods
“Spill” Original Art Piece – Faile
Rug – Caitlin Wilson
Light Fixture – Circa Lighting
Book Shelf – purchased at the Michigan Design Center
Bench – Custom

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Comments

  • Wow, what a beautiful home. It’s a visual treat everywhere you look! I just want to go exploring all the beautiful art and objects. Love homes like this which show how wonderful it is to have things in your home that you truly love than to collect things to fit into a specific “style”.

  • Everything in this home is imperfect perfection! All the textures and layering make my eyes dance. And that kitchen and bath are both killer. Nice, nice, nice.

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