From Spec To Custom

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When Michael Brothers, owner of Michael Brothers Hair, bought a newly built spec home in the Utica Square area, he immediately identified some necessary changes required to personalize the generic, traditional-style house.

“I wanted to create some architectural interest,” says Brothers. So he began with four specific areas to focus on before moving in. “My goals were to warm up the interior with paint, replace the builder’s spec lighting, redesign the uninteresting fireplace and add a backyard pool with landscaping.”

With a bevy of specific ideas in mind, Brothers reached out to Dale Gillman, owner of Antique Warehouse, for some collaboration.

“Dale took what I thought was a great idea and made it outstanding,” says Brothers.

Painting contractor Chad Meier was brought on board to begin the interior assignment. While creating a soft neutral background in most areas, his transformation of the dining room was closer to creating a work of art on the walls by using layers of pigmented plaster to heighten the color contrasts while adding a quality of depth to the ultimate finish.

At the same time, Brothers focused on renovating the backyard, designing a stunningly simple, architecturally appealing travertine patio and pool.

“It’s all about the design,” says Gillman. “Michael added four stone balls to a simple rectilinear pool to create a startling forward look.”

Using Brothers’ specifications, Raley’s Pools did the construction. Landscaping was by Green Up.

Back inside, Gillman installed a 19th-century European marble and stone bolection mold mantle with a custom glass and wrought iron fire screen to replace the builder’s basic fireplace surround while Brothers focused on the furnishings.

“Most of my existing pieces didn’t fit the scale of the house,” explains Brothers, with the exception of his Barbara Barry dining room table and chairs from Baker furniture. While Brothers continued to rely on Gillman to provide or custom-make much of the furnishings, mirrors, lighting and artwork, he also added Charles Faudree to the team.

“I have a tendency to be too architectural in my choices, and the result can be a little cold,” says Brothers. “Charles was a great help in providing fabric choices to add warmth to the space.”

The living room features a cream Natuzzi Italian leather sofa flanked by faux bamboo armchairs on a sisal area rug with silk draperies. A warthog skull from France on a custom acrylic base anchors the burled walnut, ‘40s-style low table.

“My favorite piece of furniture is the desk,” says Brothers. Gillman’s custom take on an Empire travel desk features wrought iron and gilt bronze with a frosted mirror glass top. The Edwardian red leather tufted chairs are from Ralph Lauren, and the large, abstract oil is from Belgium. Over the fireplace is a stunning octagonal mirror fabricated from antique pine panel molding with parquet mercury glass.

In the dining room, Gillman provided the Italian bead and crystal chandelier and also located the art, including a series of Italian prints of Florence and the abstract oil bought at the Paris Auction House. Faudree selected the simple yet luxurious upholstery fabric.

A polished steel Art Deco-style chandelier with crystal drops and pillar candles dresses up the otherwise unchanged kitchen. Nearby, a distressed zinc-top breakfast table sparkles under an Antonio Citterio glass disc light fixture.

Brothers admits to his preference for “shiny” accessories and even some pieces of furniture. “It adds depth and gives the room some glamour,” he states. “Michael’s style is a studied and unique Euro-modern take on interior design,” says Gillman. While the three-year project is now complete, Brothers admits there could be some occasional changes. “Is an artist ever really done?”

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