I N T E R I O R   D E S I G N


O U R  F I R S T  H O M E


In 2016, we enlisted our friends at Patrick Thompson Design in Detroit to help us design & furnish our first space. We had some items already, like meeting tables & school chairs, from Model D's office, and a budget of $25,000. Our goal: to create an inviting, old-school parlor space that evoked the salons of Left Bank Paris & the Harlem Renaissance—while also being true to our historic Cass Corridor location.

The Victorian rowhouse we occupied was formerly many things—a private home, a legendary cafe & music venue, a record shop, a gallery, even at one point a Chinese laundromat. The building had been a neighborhood landmark through many generations—but had also been closed to the public for long stretches. We wanted to warm it up and make it a comfortable & welcoming space for conversations.

It took us about 6 months to negotiate and secure the lease, and another 3 months to select, source & ship the furniture and fixtures. After a moving company delivered the goods, we assembled & staged everything ourselves.

We were DIY & scrappy. We found vintage frames at Salvation Army for our gallery, and we built the shelves over pizza & beer. We bought books from John King & Source Booksellers in Detroit—and our friends at Preservation Detroit kindly lent us their library. Our biggest splurge was probably the light fixtures.

We opened in Spring 2016 and had a glorious first year in our home. Then sadly, our landlord decided not to renew our lease, so we moved nearby to the David Mackenzie House, and brought everything along with. Luckily, it all fit.

Interior design by Patrick Thompson Design & Claire Nelson. Photography by Marvin Shaouni.

Made possible thanks to Knight Foundation.