This Artist Undertook a Two-Year Restoration of a ‘Tear-Down’ 1960 Mid-Century Modern Michigan House

published Apr 18, 2023

This Artist Undertook a Two-Year Restoration of a ‘Tear-Down’ 1960 Mid-Century Modern Michigan House

published Apr 18, 2023
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Bedrooms
Square feet
2700
Sq ft
2700

Name: John Neary and family
Location: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Size: 2700 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

John Neary grew up in Ireland and studied computer science at Trinity College Dublin. His early career as a programmer took him to Belgium for two years and then Spain for a few months. He finally made his way to Detroit in 2001 and has called Michigan home since. Over the past few years, he has gradually wound down his traditional career work and has replaced it with his passion for painting. His art is mostly based on an ancient form of Irish writing called Ogham. “I take meaningful words written in Ogham and create simple abstract forms from them. I signed my first gallery contract last year and hope to host more exhibitions in the years ahead,” John shares.

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“The home was essentially a tear-down when I bought it,” describes John. Built in 1960 and designed by Michigan-based architect Paul Moffett, it sits on the banks of a lake on a winding Bloomfield Hills street. The rear of the home is heavily wooded and, with lake views from the main living areas, you are surrounded by nature in every room. John is only the third owner and the home has not changed much structurally since it was first completed. The only material structural change was converting the breezeway into a mudroom, which was completed by the prior owner. Rather than tear the home down, John undertook a two-year restoration. During that time the structure was stabilized and the interior was fully modernized with a nod to its mid-century past. Many of the original homes in the neighborhood have been demolished and replaced by much larger homes. This home therefore remains one of the few original designs left. 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mid-century modern with some soft touches. 

Inspiration: I worked with local design firm Parini Design and they came up with a wonderful aesthetic based on materials, textures, and colors that reflected my Irish upbringing while remaining true to the mid-century bones of the home. 

Favorite Element: The lake and wood views, as well as all the visiting wildlife. You feel immersed in nature even though you are ten minutes from town and just twenty five minutes from downtown Detroit. 

Biggest Challenge: Dealing with the challenges brought about by COVID lockdowns. For a period of time, all work essentially stopped and progress was sporadic for a while even when it restarted. 

What Friends Say: It’s a peaceful and calming place, the perfect size home, too. 

Biggest Embarrassment: Discovering a major plumbing issue behind a wall that had been beautifully tiled. Thankfully the damage was relatively small and we had some tiles left over to patch it up once resolved. 

Proudest DIY: Just having my own art work displayed at home. It’s helpful when prospective clients visit to discuss commissions. That’s if my art counts as DIY.

Biggest Indulgence: Spending about $50K on the metal roof. Totally unnecessary as the prior roof was in good shape. But it completes the exterior look so nicely. 

Best Advice: Find a great design team and, once they establish a vision you are enthusiastic about, have faith they’ll be able to execute. I was likely too involved at different points, mostly out of frustration with a lack of progress. 

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

  • Most of house — Benjamin Moore’s “Chantilly Lace” (white all over)
  • Guest Bath — Farrow and Ball’s “Studio Green”
  • Lower bedroom accent wall and powder room — Benjamin Moore’s “Evening Sky”
  • Fireplace brick — Benjamin Moore’s “Black Knight”

LIVING ROOM

DINING ROOM

KITCHEN

  • Custom cabinetry — Tambour around island and stone is from Concrete Collaborative (all counters)
  • All flooring — Montauk black slate

BEDROOM

  • Bed — Lulu and Georgia

BATHROOM

  • Tile — Cle tile (walls and shower)
  • Floor — Anne Saks tiling

Thanks, John!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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