If you want attention, whisper. A Michigan home does just that.
The aesthetic voice of Kelly and Matt Shuert's Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, home speaks a language of monotone neutrals. But don't grab a pillow and drift into dreamland quite yet. Spilling from one room to the next, the taupe, ivory, and brown palette is no design snoozer. Instead, the basic hues join forces for a color trifecta that delivers a chic background for elegant entertaining of people and parties-occasions where this family of five shines.
From their first discussions in 2007 about building a new house, Kelly and Matt knew that it needed to welcome and comfortably accommodate the people they care about and the celebrations to be enjoyed with them. That included not only family affairs and holidays, but also philanthropic events. Kelly, who began volunteering for Variety the Children's Charity years ago, now serves as president of the local chapter, and when the need arises for a venue to hold fund-raising events, the Shuert residence oftentimes proves the ideal location.
"Variety is part of our family," says Kelly. "I love that it's an international charity with local roots. The money we raise stays here in Michigan and helps a broad scope of needs. My own children are involved with the organization, too, so we all contribute to the community without taking time away from each other."
Gatherings at the Shuert home can tally upward of 200 people, as in one Variety gala that featured tabletop schemes by Detroit's leading interior designers. An annual Christmas Eve open house, where Matt, Kelly, and their three teenagers all invite family and friends, also brings in a crowd for festive cheer.
The property on which the new house sits was selected for its proximity to Cranbrook, a national historic landmark in Bloomfield Hills that includes a school for K-12, a graduate Academy of Art, and leading museums. Its idyllic campus of mature trees and architecture is where the couple loved to stroll. Because their children are students at Cranbrook School, choosing the neighborhood was an easy decision, but they first had to find a piece ofland that was available. Once something opened up, they builtwith a design process that proved to be a challenge. They insisted their house appear old and blend in with the Cranbrook style, avoiding attention as the neighborhood's newest addition. To meet their requirements, Matt and Kelly hired architect Alexander Bogaerts and interior designer Lucy Earl, who worked in tandem to build a structure and subsequently plan interiors that reflected their clients' vision.
"In the past, a traditional house might have blue in one room, green in the next," explains Earl. "But with the homeowners' modern sensibilities, it was more interesting to have a traditional shell with interiors that were quiet and well-edited. This house has threads of browns, grays, and taupes that run through it, with subtle color added by the rugs to give each room its own personality."
The sophisticated dressings of the house all translate into high-impact style and easily embrace the greenery and extra sparkle of Christmas decorations. Luminous velvet and silk fabrics plus twinkling light fixtures exude glamour. Handcrafted rugs in refined palettes and unique fireplace treatments nod to history and heritage. For example, reclaimed petrified wood encases the living room fireplace with rugged texture and also forms the dining room fireplace surround. Three generations of the Shuert family paid a visit to Detroit's 108-year-old Pewabic Pottery to stamp their mark on the home with the individual tiles they designed.
Whether it's an average day or a special season, the Shuert home welcomes all visitors with open arms and a beautiful visual presentation. "Christmas is an especially meaningful time, when we revisit all our family traditions," says Kelly. "The open-house ritual started by my parents continues in my home, and friends who do not have family in the area join our clan. We've hosted my son's drum teacher, priests who aren't giving Christmas Eve Mass, and countless others. It's a magical time."
Photography: John Bessler
Produced by Khristi Zimmeth
Architect: Alexander Bogaerts, Alexander V. Bogaerts & Assoc., 2445 Franklin Rd., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302; 248/334-5000, bogaerts.us 
Interior design: Lucy Earl; assistant designer: Rachel Hartung, Jones Keena & Co., 2292 Cole St., Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/644-7515, jones-keena.com 
Builder: Thomas Sebold & Assoc., 35990 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304; 248/642-7711, tsagc.com 
Landscape architect: James C. Scott & Assoc. Inc., 300 E. Long Lake Rd., Suite 120, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304; 248/646-6564, jcsa-la.com 
Holiday decorating: Gabrielle Reilly, Flowers by Gabrielle, 15029 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230; 313/331-9250, flowersbygabby.com 
The living room's fabrics are elegant but also practical. To determine if they could withstand family wear and tear, the designer spilled red wine on them to see if they would be easy to clean. They passed the test. A long, narrow mirror borrows its linear pattern from the lines created by the mortar between the stacked stones of the dramatic fireplace.
An antique Asian console table visually boosts a painting by artist Catharine Warren.
The English Tudor-style house was inspired by the traditional architecture at the nearby Cranbrook estate and school.
A simple lighted garland embellishes the outer edge of leaded glass panels that frame the front door.
Hickory Chair dining chairs covered in a zebra-patterned fabric offer a modern contrast to the Royal Crown Derby dinnerware.
Stained a rich, dark brown, the paneled library and its leather furniture exude a woodsy feeling. A red-and-brown-patterned rug adds color.
The family room is the setting for a second Christmas tree, decorated with Kelly's extensive collection of Christopher Radko ornaments.
Holiday references are pared down in the master bedroom, where a graceful garland of greenery swags the mantel.
A jeweled pillow and a faux bois side table fashionably complement matching slipper chairs upholstered in taupe velvet.
In the master bath, a chandelier spotlights a dramatic tub, made in Peru from a single piece of stone. A pair of wreaths at the windows quietly salute the holidays.
A subtle leaf-patterned wallpaper by Kravet contrasts effectively with cabinetry stained a blackish-brown. Restoration Hardware accessories adorn the cabinets.
"We wanted the girls' bedrooms to take them straight into college and work as they became young women," says designer Lucy Earl. Daughter Sydney's pink bedroom features a dog motif.
Gabby's purple bedroom has a subtle soccer motif. Both girls worked with Earl on their spaces. "We wanted them to reflect their personalities," the designer says.
Son Hunter's room is brightly colored in more boyish stripes and has artwork that demonstrates his interest in airplanes.
Kelly and Matt Shuert and their children (from left) Gabby, Hunter, and Sydney, who is holding Coco.