A Place Of Their Own
Brett Mountain Photographer
An award-winning interior designer nests a home for her own growing family.
Interior designer Carrie Long added a bit of pretend to the reality of remodeling and decorating the Birmingham home picked for her own family almost two years ago.
She moved forward thinking of her husband, Greg Sobol, as a client of Carrie Long Interiors in Royal Oak.
Long, who advises a range of clients with diverse design tastes and timetables, believed that approach would be a way of maintaining direction and a steady process during the transformation of the Cape Cod residence built in the 1950s.
The home, ready in time to welcome this summer’s birth of son Ari, also was completed in time to be included in the Michigan Design Center’s Home Tour: Smart Solutions set for Saturday, Sept. 29.
“I want people to love where they live, and I want guests to come in and enjoy the home spaces they visit,” says Long, 36, a Wayne State University fine arts graduate who was the only Brian Killian intern ever hired by the late designer. “I love to make spaces that people don’t want to leave — where it feels comfortable, warm and homey.”
“Judaism is very important in every aspect of our lives, and I like my home to be very representative of that.”
— Carrie Long
To achieve those effects, the couple decided to enhance the outside and gut the inside before mixing treasured antique and modern furnishings in the space measuring 2,000 square feet with the top floor set aside for a pair of bedroom suites.
“I thought of this house as a total design with a cohesive flow from outside to inside,” she explains. “We changed the front of the house to give it a more welcoming feeling. It had been completely flat so we added a front porch with a pitched roof and chose Shecter Landscaping to add a courtyard and make the property even more inviting.
“To bring the outside in and the inside out, the exterior and the interior have been painted white with wood accents. Black tones surround both the outside and inside windows, and wood accents are especially noticeable because of the all-wood floors.”
In keeping with the tour theme “smart solutions,” major renovations transformed the former kitchen into a laundry room-mudroom. What had been a screened-in porch was turned into a kitchen with a big doorwall leading to the backyard, again merging the inside-outside perspective.
Merging “smart solutions” with husband as client, the basement has a section set aside for Sobol, a NEXTGen activist who enjoys drumming. Before taking on responsibilities as controller for Carrie Long Interiors, he had toured as a professional drummer.
Long’s eclectic choices are very apparent in the kitchen, where contemporary stainless-steel appliances are joined with European-style cookware storage. Instead of cabinetry above the stone countertops, there is shelving. Off to the side stands a pantry crafted to look like an armoire.
“Shelves feel warm and homey rather than utilitarian,” explains Long, who chose John Morgan at Perspectives Cabinetry for the project. “They can be staged in different ways with dishes next to decorative pieces. I brought in the pantry to allow for more flexibility.”
Flexibility also was a goal in arranging furniture, mostly in dark tones with cushiony comfort.
“I love to have multiple ways to sit and entertain in the same space,” says Long, recognized in 2017 as one of “36 Under 36” by the Detroit Jewish News and The Well, in part for donating her talents to Chabad Houses in Ann Arbor and Commerce and Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield.
“The living room, with more traditional furniture groupings in gray tones, is a great place to relax and hang out. Under an antique chandelier, the dining room is very modern with a chrome pedestal table covered with a stone top, and there is a long banquette so I can get as many as 10 people around the table in a small space.”
“The den-study also can double as a guest bedroom. Built-in cabinetry, which holds a television, covers the door of a hidden closet.”
Among the antique pieces are a 100-year-old marble fireplace surround obtained from a New York dealer and a French art deco lamp found in a Paris flea market. Holding most sentimental value is her grandfather’s baby furniture now refinished for the new baby’s room, whose walls are covered with images of horses to reflect a family interest in saddling up.
Modern touches noticeably come across in the artwork with renderings by Frank Stella and Francine Turk.
“Judaism is very important in every aspect of our lives, and I like my home to be representative of that,” explains Long, who has lived in Israel and keeps Shabbat candleholders on her dining room table and a menorah on a living room windowsill.
A vintage Eli Cohen street sign, taking note of the famous Israeli spy, hangs from a wall, and Israeli cityscapes collected by her late mother-in-law bring colorful remembrances to her decor.
“A home needs to reflect each person who lives in it,” Long says. “It makes me happy that ours certainly does, and the people visiting on tour will know about us by stepping from the outside to the inside.”
The Michigan Design Center’s Home Tour: Smart Solutions runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. $35/$60 for a pair with proceeds benefiting community projects supported by the Junior League of Birmingham. (248) 649-4772. Tickets must be purchased in Suite 25 at Michigan Design center by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28.