Black Built-Ins Add Drama in This Renovated 1940s Michigan House

updated Mar 21, 2019

Black Built-Ins Add Drama in This Renovated 1940s Michigan House

updated Mar 21, 2019
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Name: Wes Trammel, Ben Cooper, (Dog) Duffy
Location: Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan
Size: 1,870 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

An Alabama native and graphic designer, Wes relocated to Detroit three years ago with his fiancé, Ben. Having worked for 16 years as a graphic designer for a national home and lifestyle magazine, Wes has recently turned his attention to home renovation and interiors. And the beautiful home he shares with Ben is a great example of their graphic, traditional, and classic style. But it didn’t always look like it does today!

When they purchased this house, it had sat unoccupied for many years and was very outdated, with pastel wallpaper, purple trim, and a dark kitchen. (You can see the before photos here.) After a harrowing renovation (during which they also lived in the space), the house is now a “traditional-with-a-twist”-style space.

Ben is a Florida native and attorney specializing in civil rights and unemployment law, and currently the Director of Human Resources for an international watch and leather goods brand based in Detroit. They have demanding careers, and it’s easy to see how this couple might enjoy unwinding in their relaxing home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Having Southern roots, my style tends to lean toward the aesthetic. In the South, having a beautiful home is part of one’s upbringing. Using a “traditional-with-a-twist” approach, I shop all price points to create warm and comfortable surroundings that are structured, timeless, calming, and (most of all) welcoming to family and friends.

Inspiration: First and foremost, I believe my inspiration comes from a very lovely woman, Linda Woodrum (Designer for HGTV’s Dream Home). For several years on occasion, I was fortunate enough to work alongside this extremely versatile and talented designer. Every home she touched resulted in the most beautifully layered and inviting spaces that would make anyone feel completely at home. With each project I take on, there’s a small part of me that strives to meet the bar that she set for me years ago. Linda, thanks for the inspiration!

Favorite Element: Our favorite element of the house is our custom fabricated shelf in the kitchen. Designed by Detroit native and craftsman, Colin Tury, it’s one of the crucial elements that sets this house apart. When designing the kitchen, I knew that I wanted an extremely thin shelf to span the distance of the back wall and pass directly in front of the window. Colin took that information and ran with it—resulting in a brass-accented steel shelf that adds the perfect amount of modern to this traditional space. We’re so proud to own a piece by this up-and-coming designer.

Biggest Challenge: We lived in our home over the course of the remodel. During that time, each day was a battle against dust, debris, and disorganization. And who wants a makeshift kitchen in the basement? Next time we’ll live off-site!

What Friends Say: Neighbors knew the house as being uninhabited and dark. Friends had either seen the “before” pictures or visited pre-construction. All have been amazed with the transformation. The den seems to be everyone’s favorite. They love the open-air cottage feel that was created when we replaced the 1970s sliding glass doors and windows with four sets of energy-efficient French doors that let in the light!

Proudest DIY: When I couldn’t find a contractor that wanted the job (or would even show up!), I measured, ordered, and installed the new granite fireplace surround and hearth myself!

Biggest Indulgence: Those four sets of French doors in the den. Beautiful but costly! Eh, it was worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Best Advice: No matter how fantastic of a contractor you use or how well you think you have prepared, your remodel will rarely finish on budget and will never finish on time. You’ll save yourself much frustration if you accept these facts from the get-go. Just breathe and carry on until it’s done.

Dream Sources: Lee Industries Furniture; Vanguard Furniture; Circa Lighting; Waterworks; 1st Dibs; Builders from the 1940s.


Paint — Walls: Sherwin Williams, Dover White SW 6385; Trim: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula; Sashes and Bookcase: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula
Sofa — Robin Bruce
Ottoman — Bauhaus
Folding Console Table —
Chairs — Vanguard Furniture
Table Lamp — Unknown
Desk — Martha Stewart
Stools — Pier 1
Mirror — Bassett Furniture
Bird Prints —
Rug —
Fireplace Screen — Pottery Barn
Urn and Flower Pots — At Home
Fireplace Surround and Hearth — Granite from local vendor; Finish: Polished

Paint — Walls: Sherwin Williams, Dover White SW 6385; Trim: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula; Sashes: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula
Dining Bench — Crate & Barrel
Dining Table — Unknown
Dining Chairs — At Home
Chandelier — LampsPlus
Mirror — At Home
Throw — Pottery Barn
Rug — RugsUSA

Paint — Walls: Sherwin Williams, Dover White SW 6385; Trim and Doors: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula; Sashes: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula; Island: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula
Cabinets — Thomasville
Countertops — Marble from local vendor; Finish: Leather
Faucet — Ferguson Showrooms
Sink — Kraus
Refrigerator — KitchenAid
Stove — KitchenAid
Dishwasher — Bosch
Microwave — Sharp
Tile — American Olean
Knobs/Pulls — Home Depot
Egg Prints — Custom-framed antique prints
Canisters — Le Creuset

Paint — Walls: Sherwin Williams, Dover White SW 6385; Trim, Sashes and Doors: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula
Sofa — Century Furniture
Chairs — Ethan Allen
Wood End Tables — Custom manufactured
Metal End Table — Flea market find
Coffee Table — Flea market find
Armoire — Rich’s (now Macy’s)
Planter — Pottery Barn
Floor Lamp with Shade — IKEA
Apothecary Floor Lamps — LampsPlus
Tree Prints — Owner’s collection
Seagrass Rug — Prop sale find
Drapes — IKEA
Drapery Hardware — Allen + Roth; Lowes

Paint — Walls: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula; Trim, Sashes and Doors: Sherwin Williams, Custom Formula
Bed — Unknown
Side Table with Drawer — Flea market find
Metal Side Table — At Home
Sconces — Allen + Roth; Lowes
Lamps — Unknown
Lamp Shades — Restoration Hardware
Leaf Prints —;
Custom-framed Mirror — HomeGoods
Stool — Unknown
Console/Dresser — IKEA
Bedding — Sheets: Ralph Lauren; Blanket: Fieldcrest; Duvet Cover: Crate and Barrel; Euros: Custom
Drapes — IKEA
Drapery Hardware — At Home
Arrangement Container — Unknown
Rug — RugsUSA

Thanks, Wes and Ben!

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