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Stylish Update for a Historic Detroit Home

Strong color and creative risks help an adventurous homeowner and an up-and-coming designer reinvent a historic Detroit home for a young family

Written by Khristi S. Zimmeth
  • Werner Straube

    They finish each other’s sentences and joke that they are twins separated at birth. So it’s a little surprising that homeowner Courtney Wigginton and Detroit-based designer Corey Damen Jenkins met after an internet search.

    Both in their 30s, the pair forged an instant rapport upon meeting in 2013. No stranger to design challenges—Jenkins was recently named one of the nation’s top African-American designers and a winner of HGTV’s Showhouse Showdown—he nonetheless admits he was taken aback when Courtney and her husband, Jeff, outlined the to-do list for their 1939 Colonial Revival in a Detroit suburb.

    “Overall, there were 32 spaces to design and furnish,” the designer says. “The most daunting part was the timeline. They wanted structural renovations completed within six months. Courtney was pregnant with their second child and due soon after the move-in date. I warned them that their schedule was absolutely insane. They looked at each other, smiled, and said: ‘We know.’ ” 

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Doris Athineos

    Interior designer: Corey Damen Jenkins, Corey Damen Jenkins Associates, LLC, 261 E. Maple Rd., Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/635-8818,   

    Window treatment fabrication: Gayle’s Drapery & Blinds,
    Custom upholstery and antique restoration: Designer Furniture Services,   

    Wall paint: custom mix by designer.
    Wainscoting and trim paint (“Garlic Clove” #510-1): PPG Pittsburgh Paints,
    Pendant light (“Marietta” #2313-AGB): Hudson Valley Lighting,
    Accent chairs (“Sophy’s Chair” #4102-138CK); center hall table (“Blaise” #AL55006, Althorp Living History Collection): Theodore Alexander,
    Wheat sconces: Judy Frankel Antiques,
    Art; white accessories on table: owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube

    Bold Welcome

    Courtney and Jeff had considered other area designers, many of whom knew of the home’s long history and its previous designer, Mario Buatta. “They all came up with ideas that mirrored the past owner,” Courtney says. “When I met Corey, he understood right away that I wanted to make the home mine—keep its traditional bones yet spice it up.”

    Taking cues both from Courtney’s closet and from the fashion runway, Jenkins presented a combination of bold hues and modern choices juxtaposed against a traditional backdrop. “She’s not afraid of color or pattern or of combining the two in inventive ways,” he says. Interiors were re-energized using jewel tones and vibrant saturated colors. “When we were getting started, designers like Elie Saab were featuring emerald, navy, and citron on the Paris runway, and Courtney loved those colors, so we started there,” says Jenkins.

    The emerald-green wall color in the foyer and stairwell is a custom mix. The spaces were repainted after a less-than-exciting white felt dull.

    Wall paint: custom mix by designer.
    Wainscoting and trim paint (“Garlic Clove” #510-1): PPG Pittsburgh Paints,
    Stairwell mirrors (mix of antiques and reproductions): owner’s collection.
    Stair runner (“Taos”/Midnight, Atelier Collection): Stanton Carpet,  

  • Werner Straube

    Colorful Living Room

    Courtney wanted the home to feel both elegant and easygoing and describes her style as “sophisticated yet livable.” The first floor includes a mix of new, vintage, and inherited furnishings—some repurposed in surprising ways. A case in point: the living room’s classic French bergères, now covered in a seductive white patent leather. Courtney calls them her “go-go boot” chairs. “Corey came to me with the fabric and said, ‘Just trust me,’ ” she recalls. “I said you’re making the chairs sexy, and he said, ‘Exactly.’ ” The fabric is also very forgiving, says Jenkins. “It’s great not worrying about the kids’ sticky fingers or someone spilling wine,” adds Courtney.

    Wallcovering (“Shantou Metallic Weave”/Lapis, Gold #LWP65380W): Ralph Lauren Home,
    Ceiling: lacquered paint.
    Area rug: Stark,
    Green wing chair (“Jackson” #H0626): Henredon,
    Chair fabric (“Legacy” #9672, velvet): Pindler & Pindler,
    Pair of antique wing chairs (19th-century gilt bergères); andirons: Judy Frankel Antiques,
    Chair fabric (“Go Go Marshmallow” #136927, discontinued): Robert Allen,
    Table between white chairs (“Radiating Parquetry” #5005-022): Theodore Alexander,
    Coffee table (“Mirrored Cocktail Table” #HH07-607-GA): Highland House,
    Sofa: Henredon,
    Sofa fabric (“Versailles”/Blue #E25632, velvet); gold-and-white pillow on sofa (“Cane Weave”/Quince #30058.316): Kravet,
    Green pillow on sofa (“Legacy” #9672, velvet): Pindler & Pindler,
    Trim on green pillow (“Alchemy Braid”/Citrine); center lumbar pillow (“Art Angle”/Emerald): Robert Allen,
    Roman-shade fabric (#31360.530): Kravet,
    Roman-shade trim (“Solid Band”/Lime): Robert Allen,
    Mantel: original to house, slightly embellished.
    Green glasses on mantel: flea market find.
    Art on mantel: owner’s collection.
    Pair of tall wing chairs by bay window (“William and Mary Chair” #H4274-20); chair fabric (“Adele Solid”/Citrine #2012122.34): Lee Jofa,

  • Werner Straube

    Parlor Area

    Courtney Wigginton, who grew up in a traditional-style home, had never worked with a designer. She had a thick file of clippings and ideas when she hired Corey Jenkins, and she brought her mother to the first planning meeting. “Courtney gave me a budget but didn’t micromanage me,” Jenkins says. 

    In the parlor, a Henredon étagère houses a collection of white porcelain.

    Wallcovering (“Shantou Metallic Weave”/Lapis, Gold #LWP65380W): Ralph Lauren Home,
    Étagère (“Heidi” #8201-60, by Celerie Kemble); chair (“Darcy” #H1210): Henredon,
    Chair fabric
    (“Cane Weave”/Quince #30058.316): Kravet,
    Collection of white porcelain: owner’s collection and flea market finds. 

  • Werner Straube

    Parlor Area

    The bold blues and greens of Courntey's chosen palette mingle beautifully in the parlor. Artwork above the settee pulls the scheme together.

    Wallcovering (“Shantou Metallic Weave”/Lapis, Gold #LWP65380W): Ralph Lauren Home,
    Settee: antique.
    Settee fabric: Kravet,
    End tables flanking settee (“Ashford” #5021.217): Theodore Alexander,
    White lamps (“Lynton” #6425): Currey & Co.,
    Art behind settee: owner’s collection.
    Wall brackets; jars on wall brackets: antique. 

  • Werner Straube

    Dining Room

    The pair worked their way through the house using a philosophy of saves and splurges. At the top of the splurge list was the luxe de Gournay wallpaper in the dining room. “I saw it in a magazine and fell in love,” says Courtney. “But when Corey told me the price, I almost had a heart attack. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a work of art.”

    The ceiling features an 11-step lacquered Venetian plaster treatment, the wall an eye-catching de Gournay mural. Jenkins balanced the room’s opulence with clean-lined chairs paired with an English double-pedestal dining table on a sisal carpet. 

    Wall mural (“Monuments of Paris”): de Gournay,
    Ceiling plaster/glaze treatment: The Walls of Virtue,
    Area rug (Indochine): Stark Carpet,
    Chandeliers: Judy Frankel Antiques,
    Dining table (antique): owner’s collection.
    Host chairs: Corey Damen Jenkins & Assoc.,
    Host-chair fabric: Kravet,
    Trim (“Alchemy Band”/Onyx): Robert Allen,
    Side chairs (“Barrington Side Chair” #MN5364S): Century Furniture,
    Settee: One Kings Lane,
    Settee fabric: antique.

  • Werner Straube

    Settee-ing Pretty

    A settee, upholstered in a lush green antique fabric is a polishing touch along one dining room wall. 

    End table by settee (“The Jennings and Betteridge Table” #5002-178): Theodore Alexander,
    Brass pineapple canisters: Judy Frankel Antiques, 

  • Werner Straube

    Stylish Kitchen

    A pair of midnight-blue Jimmy Choos—part of the color board the designer put together—provided the inspiration for the palette’s sapphire tones and the kitchen’s La Cornue range. “When I saw those shoes,” Courtney remembers, “I said, ‘Oh good, he gets me.’ ”

    Cabinetry (in oyster glaze finish): Bolyard Lumbar,
    Cabinetry hardware: Baldwin Hardware,
    Countertop: Calacatta marble.
    Backsplash tile: Virginia Tile Co.,
    Range: La Cornue,
    Range hood: custom.
    Wall sconces (“Pelham”): Hudson Valley Lighting,
    Pendant lights (“Grosvenor Large Single Pendant”/Antique Burnished Brass #CHC1483AB): Circa Lighting,
    Counter stools: Corey Damen Jenkins & Assoc.,
    Counter-stool fabric (“Ophidian-50”): Kravet,

  • Werner Straube

    Breakfast Table

    Jenkins and homeowner Courtney worked to save in areas most frequented by Winston, 5, and Hayes, 2, opting for lower-cost yet still stylish furniture, including the breakfast room’s Pier 1 chairs. Save or splurge, durability was key. “We chose a lot of velvets and linen blends, fabrics that work especially well for families with young kids.” 

    Cabinetry (in oyster glaze finish): Boyard Lumber,
    Cabinet hardware: Baldwin Hardware,
    Backsplash (Calacatta marble): Virginia Tile Co.,
    Chandelier (“Cohasset” #8218-AGB): Hudson Valley Lighting,
    Pedestal table: Bernhardt,
    Dining chairs (“Carmilla Dining Chair —Blue Damask” #2592817): Pier 1 Imports,
    Area rug (discontinued): Stark,

  • Werner Straube

    Pretty Library

    Jenkins covered the ceiling with an unexpected, shimmery Cole & Son wallpaper. “I believe in addressing all six walls in a room,” says the designer. “Ceiling treatments offer a great opportunity to make a room feel more intimate and make a truly personal statement.” 

    Wall paint (“Polo Blue” #2062-10): Benjamin Moore,
    Ceiling wallpaper (“Nuvolette”/Black and White #97/2007.CS, by Cole & Son): Lee Jofa,
    Drapery, bottom fabric (“Pavillon Silk”/Mocha #8486.666); trim (“Piano Band”/Chestnut #T30585-646): Kravet,
    Drapery, top fabric (“Karsa Flamestitch”/Fall #2008175.934): Lee Jofa,
    Wall sconces: vintage.
    Art (estate sale purchase): owner’s collection.
    Chair in front of window: antique.
    Chair fabric (#32258.24): Kravet,
    Leather wing chairs (#IL7708, discontinued); wing chairs opposite sofa (“Poised Chair” #H0450); wing-chair fabric, front (#99-3238-11):
    Wing-chair fabric, back and sides (“Don’t Fret”/Bittersweet #66182): Schumacher,
    Pillow on wing chair (“Barrista Stripe”/Canyon #31973-411): Kravet,
    Area rug: Stark,
    Leather sofa: owner’s collection.
    Pillow at end of sofa: discontinued.
    Pillow in center of sofa (“Karsa Flamestitch”/Fall #2008175.934): Lee Jofa,
    Cocktail table (product line varies): Horchow,
    Console table behind sofa (“Grandover Three Drawer Console” #5029-85005): Hooker Furniture,
    Green glass lamps: estate sale find.   

  • Werner Straube

    Everyone Likes the Library!

    A deep blue on the walls creates a rich backdrop for estate-sale paintings, inherited antiques, and a tall, handsome leather wing chair with nailhead trim by Henredon.

  • Werner Straube

    Bar Area

    In the bar, calacatta marble floors with wood insets create a pretty pattern underfoot. Dark woodwork and leather upholstery lend a masculine air to the light, bright space.

    Roman-shade fabric (#31360.530): Kravet,
    Roman-shade trim (“Solid Band”/Lime): Robert Allen,
    Bar cabinetry: Bolyard Lumber,
    Bar stools: Corey Damen Jenkins & Assoc.,
    Bar-stool fabric, back (“Art Angle”/Emerald): Robert Allen,
    Bar-stool seat fabric (“Ophidian”/Midnight #Ophidian-50): Kravet,
    Bar lamps (“Killarny” #6901): Currey & Co.,
    Tete-a-Tete (discontinued): Century Furniture,
    Tete-a-tete leather (“Ophidian”/Midnight #Ophidian-50”): Kravet,
    Floor tile: Calacatta marble. 

  • Werner Straube

    Designer Portrait

    Jenkins admits he’s happy he didn’t know when he took the project that Mario Buatta had been the previous designer. “It would have been a little intimidating,” he says. He later showed the design icon photos of the redone house, and he says Buatta approved. “It almost felt like sacrilege to touch it,” Jenkins says, but overall he has few regrets. “It just wasn’t Courtney’s style—but I do feel a little bad about all that chintz.” 

  • Werner Straube

    Master Bedroom

    The neutral color palette feels both chic and calm. The main attraction is the luxe four-poster by Ebanista dressed in Kravet fabrics and trimmed in appliqué from Schumacher and Robert Allen.

    Wall and ceiling paint (“Ashley Gray” #HC-87): Benjamin Moore,
    Trim paint (“Garlic Clove” #510-1): PPG Pittsburgh Paints,
    Chandelier (“Montgomery 9-Light Chandelier”/Polished Nickel #24307CLPN): Maxim Lighting,
    Carpet: Stark,
    Drapery: Kravet,
    Bed (“Prado I Bed” #405-600-01-BRN): Ebanista.
    Pillows on bed: Kravet,
    Applique on pillows: Schumacher,
    Trim: Robert Allen,
    Drapery fabric behind bed: Kravet,
    Bedside tables (“Black Sands Night Chest” #537-625, Royal Kahala Collection from Tommy Bahama Home): Lexington Home Brands,
    Lamps on bedside tables (discontinued): Feiss,
    Mirrors: Ethan Allen,
    Sofa (“Fitzgerald” #N1457): Bernhardt,
    Sofa fabric; pillows on sofa: Kravet,
    Coffee table: owner’s collection.
    Floor lamps (“Corridor Floor Lamp” #8448): Currey & Co.,
    Chaise (“Draycott” #H3801-64): Lee Jofa,

  • Werner Straube

    Master Bath

    The master bath was renovated for a more symmetrical and sophisticated feel. The leather settee was recycled from the Wiggintons’ former home and re-covered in white leather. 

    Wall and ceiling paint (“Ashley Gray” #HC-87): Benjamin Moore,
    Trim paint (“Garlic Clove” #510-1): PPG Pittsburgh Paints,
    Perimeter tile on floor: Calacatta marble.
    Patterned center tile (“Seine”): New Ravenna, Through Virginia Tile,
    Pendant light (“Fluted Pendant”/Nickel): Global Views,
    Mirrors (“Venetian Beaded Mirror”): Restoration Hardware,
    Wall sconces (“Laurel” #6001-PN): Hudson Valley Lighting,
    Art: De Grimme Gallery, Michigan Design Center,
    Settee: owner’s collection.
    Settee leather (“Ophidian”): Kravet,

  • Werner Straube

    Guest Bedroom

    An artful mix of patterns in a contained palette dominates the guest room. The high ceiling allows for a large hanging lantern to make a statement. 

    Ceiling wallcovering (“Dunston Stripe”/colorway discontinued #LWP30607W): Ralph Lauren Home,
    Wallpaper inset behind bed (“Chiavi Segrete”/Green #97/4014.CS, by Cole & Son): Lee Jofa,
    Drapery behind bed, window valance, pillow (“XU Garden Veridian” #XU GARDEN.313): Kravet,
    Hanging lantern (“Loggia, Large” #9075); table lamps (“Westlake Table Lamp” #6434): Currey & Co.,
    End tables (“Martello Night Table”#543-623, Ivory Key Collection by Tommy Bahama Home): Lexington Home Brands,
    Bed: owner’s collection.
    Chair: owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric (#Mankolam.11, linen): Kravet,

  • Werner Straube

    Historic Home

    This handsome American Colonial Revival residence in Bloomfield Village was designed by the Detroit firm Maul & Lentz in 1939. Members of the American Institute of Architects, partners Walter Maul and Walter E. Lentz left their mark on many historic gems in the suburban communities dreamed up by Detroit developer Judson Bradway. A blue-blood real-estate tycoon, Bradway encouraged the development of Tudor and Colonial revivals within the approximately one-square-mile residential community of Bloomfield Village, beginning in 1924 and ending with about 950 houses in 1964. “It wasn’t developed all at once,” says Art Atkinson, village manager of the Bloomfield Village Association. Bradway issued restrictions on what was allowed within the development, and even today, the neighborhood maintains his standard of “harmonious homes” distinguished by architectural details; pleasing scale, balance, and proportion; high-quality materials; and tasteful paint color.

  • Werner Straube

    Family Portrait

    Jeff and Courtney Wigginton with their sons, Winston, 5, and Hayes, 2.  

  • Michael Garland