Behind-the-Scenes Peek at One Magnificent Mansion

Metro Detroit interior designers and volunteers aplenty prepare to wow tourgoers this May at the Junior League of Detroit Show House.

In a couple of weeks, the Junior League of Detroit (JLD) will open the doors to its 2012 Designers’ Show House, located at 22 Webber Place in Grosse Pointe Shores. The house will also feature fully landscaped gardens, a boutique, café and a greenery garden area, with items for sale.  

For several weeks, dozens of interior designers, painters, electricians, maintenance professionals, boutique staff and more have been coming and going at the massive 10,304-square-foot house, which was built in 1928 as the home of Oscar Webber, nephew of Joseph L. Hudson. 

The home will be open to the public from May 5-20; admission funds go toward programs for the JLD.

Renowned architect Leonard B. Willeke designed the mansion. Tourgoers can view seven bedrooms, a third-floor ballroom, 11 Pewabic tile bathrooms, six Pewabic tile fireplaces and hand-carved wood and plaster throughout, to name a few highlights.

Interior designers who are refreshing and transforming the special Show House hail from everywhere from Plymouth, Royal Oak and Birmingham to Rochester, Clinton Township, Grosse Pointe and Troy.

Sneak Peek

Patch dropped in at the stately abode on a recent Tuesday morning to get a look behind the scenes at what will in two weeks undoubtedly be a gorgeous masterpiece of interior design, from small details like the stunning turquoise Pewabic-tile bathroom off the lady of the home’s dressing room to the exquisitely charming butler’s pantry to the sunny morning room.

Design students, too, are getting into the act, including those from Baker College of Clinton Township and the in Troy.

While some designers were selecting paint tones and shelf adornments, others were reviewing pretty bolts of fabric that soon will bedeck chairs and bedding. Ladders, electrical cords, hammers, wrapped furnishings, painters’ tape and more peppered the interior spaces.

“The cooperation and what goes into something like this is amazing,” said Grosse Pointe Park's Kristina Acheson, a Show House co-chairwoman (Barbara Preus and Jane Fox are the other co-chairs).

The family who lives in the home – which is for sale, incidentally – moves out for weeks on end while the crew comes in to redesign the home.

Almost Done

One of the rooms that was nearly complete during Patch’s visit was the library, designed by Gordon Robinson of Gordon Robinson Design in Detroit. Robinson, who grew up in Farmington Hills, borrowed a lot of his mother’s furniture from her Farmington Hills home for his space.

“She’ll miss the furniture for a while and then it will go back to her,” he said with a laugh while selecting blue-and-white pottery for various shelves in the room.

“Most of the porcelain in my library is on loan from friends; I asked them all to come for quiche and coffee one morning, and oh, bring a piece of blue-and-white porcelain.” 

Robinson is especially attached to this year’s Show House, as he once worked for Hudson’s in its Design Studio (the aforementioned J.L. Hudson plays a role in the home’s past). 

Upstairs, Suzi Tipton of Grosse Pointe and Sarah Kriesler of Grosse Pointe Farms were busy pulling out just-shipped bolts of fabric for what they are calling “the au pair’s room.” Kriesler is the owner of the 3-year-old Village Palm, a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store in Grosse Pointe.

“We are excited because our store just started offering Lilly Pulitzer/Lee Joffa fabric and furniture (with HFI — Home Furnishings International),” explained Tipton. Many of the au pair-room fabrics and paintings were designed and created by Paige Smith, who was raised in Bloomfield Village and attended Kingswood and schools. She is one of five associate print designers for Lilly Pulitzer, which is based in King of Prussia, PA.

“There’s such great talent coming out of Michigan,” said Kriesler.

The dynamic duo selected a light pink paint for the walls. “It’s a mix of colors,” said Kriesler, “the same tone on the walls in our store, so I guess you could call it Village Palm Pink."

The Selection Process

Not everyone who applies to be a JLD Show House designer gets in, explained Acheson.

“We send out invitations to designers and those in the design business and then we ask each of the candidates to explain how they’d design three specific spaces,” Acheson explained. “This year (the Show House event runs every other year; this is the 19th JLD Show House), we didn’t have to turn down too many ideas because there are like 29 rooms in this home that will undergo a re-design.” 

Meanwhile, longtime JLD volunteer Geneva Halliday of Grosse Pointe Park takes the helm at the home’s “reception area,” reading up on show house tour protocol.

“We’ve sold houses in the past during the Show House tours,” Halliday recalled. “That might happen this time; you never know.”

Halliday has seen all kinds of challenges and successes over the years. “We’ve had fuse issues, tornado warnings and more,” Halliday said. “But it always works out.”

Shop ‘Til You Drop

In the basement of the home, Julia Keim of Grosse Pointe Park readies her boutique wares. Working with Wendy Jennings and Judy Lees, both of Grosse Pointe, Keim’s aim is to always offer fresh items annually in the boutique.

“We feature the works of mostly Michigan artists,” said Keim, while pulling out some creative Detroit-themed works from a company called 313 Collective. Nearby, holiday wreathes, garden busts, note cards and more filled boxes whose contents soon will adorn boutique shelves.

“The artists donate 40 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their works to the JLD,” Keim explained.

Publicist Caroline Marks of Grosse Pointe Park explains that the Show House tour is the No. 1 fundraiser for the JLD, which started in 1914.

“The proceeds help us provide opportunities for families in the city of Detroit,” Marks said. Close to $2.5 million has been raised for programs and projects in the city of Detroit since the first Show House tours in 1976. Proceeds from the 2012 Designers’ Show House will support the JLD’s family and educational programming in the city of Detroit and will provide funding for the JLD’s Community Assistance Grants.

This is the first in a series of stories on the Designers’ Show House, which will be open for public tours May 5-May 20.

Show House tour hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday from noon-3 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday,Friday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sundays noon-5 p.m.  The popular Preview Party will be held May 4. 

Tour tickets: $15 if purchased in advance, or $20 at the door. Group tour specials are also available. Tickets will be available throughout the area at local retailers; contact the JLD office at (313) 881-0040 or visit jldetroit.org for more details and ticket locations.

The Designers: Room by Room

Room Name




Vestibule John Kline John Kline Color Design Grosse Pointe Park
Main and Lisa Ludeman Creative Galleries Royal Oak Upper Halls Lori Murphy

Living Room Daniel E. Clancy, ASID Perlmutter-Friewald Inc. Franklin
Mark Manardo

Morning Room Diane Woolsey  Diane Woolsey Interiors Grosse Pointe Farms
D. J. Kennedy

Ray Vuia

Bar closet John Kline John Kline Color Design Grosse Pointe Park
Master Bedroom Michael Lahner Ethan Allen Birmingham
Christopher Brown, ASID

Master Bath Margaret McAvoy McAvoy & Daughters Grosse Pointe Park
Dressing Suite Elisabeth Meda Elisabeth Meda Interior Design Grosse Pointe Woods
Ladies Bedroom Jennifer Imamura The Velvet Plum, distinctive designs Plymouth Bath and Closet Pam Evans Pamela Evans Interior Design Grosse Pointe
Ladie's Home Jeanine White-Haith ShowHouse Interiors Grosse Pointe Woods Office  Lounge

Fishscale blue bath room
Jane Shook Jane Shook Painted Interiors Grosse Pointe  Farms  Bedroom  front Brian Clay Collins, FASID Brian Clay Collins Designs, LLC Grosse Pointe Guest Retreat Renea M. Lewis, Allied ASID Design By Choice, LLC Troy Curved Staircase to 3rd floor

Great Room Loretta Crenshaw Crenshaw & Associates Detroit Art Retreat Lynnette Zaner,  Director of Design Tech. Baker College Clinton Township Clinton Twp.
Jennifer Murray-Huffman ASID Student Design

Gabriella Andersen

Amber Williams

Katie Sleeman

Gift Wrap Room Lynnette Zaner, Director of Design Tech. Baker College Clinton Township Clinton Twp.
Brigitte Flowers ASID Student Design

Cynthia Hernandez

3rd Floor Bath Lynnette Zaner, Director of Design Tech. Baker College Clinton Township Clinton Twp.
Kimberly Blum-Parrish NKBA Student Design

Moniquee  Sobocinski

Back Stairs 2nd JLD Provisionals 9 members of Provisional Class
& 3rdhallways Katie Shubnell

Sara Ashton chair.

Back Hall Sarah Kriesler Village Palm Grosse Pointe Bedroom 2ndfloor Suzi Tipton

Pantry Jennifer Riley Riley & Crook Design Grosse Pointe .Farms
Vanessa Crook

Kitchen Phyllis Whitehead P.J. Whitehead's Design Concierge Birmingham

Breakfast room Sharon A. Holton Sharon A. Holton Interiors South Lyon Back Hall Barbara Marini, FASID Int.Academy of Design& Technology Troy Bathroom Sonya Gray ASID Student Design

Christina Kelly

Library Gordon Robinson, ASID Gordon Robinson Design, LLC Detroit
 Powder Room David Michael Johns, IDS DMJ Interiors Rochester
Jennifer M.  Johns-Miller,ASID, NCIDQ

Dining Room Rick Carmody Au Courant Ferndale
Harry Limauro Inspired smart Technologies Pontiac


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