Strong color and creative risks help an adventurous homeowner and an up-and-coming designer reinvent a historic Detroit home for a young family.
They finish each other’s sentences and joke that they are twins separated at birth. So it’s a little surprising that homeowner Courtney Wigginton and Detroit-based designer Corey Damen Jenkins met after an internet search.
Both in their 30s, the pair forged an instant rapport upon meeting in 2013. No stranger to design challenges—Jenkins was recently named one of the nation’s top African-American designers and a winner of HGTV’s Showhouse Showdown—he nonetheless admits he was taken aback when Courtney and her husband, Jeff, outlined the to-do list for their 1939 Colonial Revival in a Detroit suburb.
The homeonwers had considered other area designers, many of whom knew of the home’s long history and its previous designer, Mario Buatta. “They all came up with ideas that mirrored the past owner,” Courtney says. “When I met Corey, he understood right away that I wanted to make the home mine—keep its traditional bones yet spice it up.”
Taking cues both from Courtney’s closet and from the fashion runway, Jenkins presented a combination of bold hues and modern choices juxtaposed against a traditional backdrop. “She’s not afraid of color or pattern or of combining the two in inventive ways,” he says. Interiors were re-energized using jewel tones and vibrant saturated colors. “When we were getting started, designers like Elie Saab were featuring emerald, navy, and citron on the Paris runway, and Courtney loved those colors, so we started there,” says Jenkins.
The emerald-green wall color in the foyer and stairwell is a custom mix. The spaces were repainted after a less-than-exciting white felt dull.
Courtney wanted the home to feel both elegant and easygoing and describes her style as “sophisticated yet livable.” The first floor includes a mix of new, vintage, and inherited furnishings—some repurposed in surprising ways. A case in point: the living room’s classic French bergères, now covered in a seductive white patent leather. Courtney calls them her “go-go boot” chairs. “Corey came to me with the fabric and said, ‘Just trust me,’ ” she recalls. “I said you’re making the chairs sexy, and he said, ‘Exactly.’ ” The fabric is also very forgiving, says Jenkins. “It’s great not worrying about the kids’ sticky fingers or someone spilling wine,” adds Courtney.
The pair worked their way through the house using a philosophy of saves and splurges. At the top of the splurge list was the luxe de Gournay wallpaper in the dining room. “I saw it in a magazine and fell in love,” says Courtney. “But when Corey told me the price, I almost had a heart attack. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a work of art.”
The ceiling features an 11-step lacquered Venetian plaster treatment, the wall an eye-catching de Gournay mural. Jenkins balanced the room’s opulence with clean-lined chairs paired with an English double-pedestal dining table on a sisal carpet.
Jenkins and homeowner Courtney worked to save in areas most frequented by Winston, 5, and Hayes, 2, opting for lower-cost yet still stylish furniture, including the breakfast room’s Pier 1 chairs. Save or splurge, durability was key. “We chose a lot of velvets and linen blends, fabrics that work especially well for families with young kids.”
Jenkins covered the ceiling with an unexpected, shimmery Cole & Son wallpaper. “I believe in addressing all six walls in a room,” says the designer. “Ceiling treatments offer a great opportunity to make a room feel more intimate and make a truly personal statement.”
Written by Khristi S. Zimmeth Produced by Doris Athineos Interior designer: Corey Damen Jenkins, Corey Damen Jenkins Associates, LLC, 261 E. Maple Rd., Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/635-8818, coreydamenjenkins.com.
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