Pattern Language: A Textiles Enthusiast at Home in Ann Arbor

If clothes make the man, do textiles make the manse? Krista Nye Schwartz of the interior design firm and blog Cloth & Kind thinks so. For Krista, every project begins with a favorite pile of fabrics, her family’s own Ann Arbor, Michigan, house included. The daughter of a University of Chicago Southeast Asian studies bibliographer, she says that a year spent living in India when she was eight started her on a life path paved in “intense color and texture and pattern.”

Her passions translate well on Pinterest where, with her design partner, Tami Ramsay, Krista has developed the Textile & Pattern Resource, an archive of Cloth & Kind–selected fabrics that designers the world over turn to as an ideas database. A believer in spreading the word about “the artisans and the hands that make the cloth,” Krista shows us around the Ann Arbor house that she rescued from squirrels and shares her finds.

Photography by Rinne Allen.

Above: The stucco house dates back to 1905 and was “thick with cobwebs, critters, and mold,” Krista says. “I was ready to work on a house; I just hadn’t expected to fall in love with the haunted house on the block.”

Above: “Introducing copper downspouts added so much to the exterior,” Krista tells us. For clients, she and Tami have since discovered a way to get the look for less: They paint aluminum downspouts with Sydney Harbour copper paint. For an intriguing downspout alternative, go to Gardenista’s 10 Easy Pieces post on Rain Chains.

Above: Krista says, “The house had me as soon as I stepped into the front stairwell and saw the nine-foot ceilings and crown plaster moldings.” Though she classifies the project as “a complete gut rehab,” she kept the hardwood floors throughout–”refinished with an updated darker stain”–and largely preserved the original floor plan. The foyer walls are covered in Schumacher grasscloth wallpaper hung with a Juju Hat, a Cameroonian feather headdress, from L’Aviva Home. The living room’s antique hexagonal table holds a half-dome brass lamp from Three Chairs, one of Krista’s favorite Ann Arbor sources.

Above: A custom chaise longue in the living room is upholstered in a faded orange linen. The framed textile, an embroidered and mirrored vintage Indian relic, is one of the starting-point pieces that inspired the house’s palette of persimmon, pomegranate, and other fiery hues.


Above: Krista describes her approach to design as “textile centric.” This chaise cushion with antique Indian embroidery comes from John Robshaw’s one-of-a-kind Souk Pillows collection. 

Above: A Thonet Era Armchair from Design Within Reach stands next to a limestone mantle that Krista designed and had fabricated by local stonework company Pascucci Marble & Granite: “The size and scale of it are impressive, yet it’s intentionally understated.”

Above: The living room’s bird lampshade and cachepots are from Jayson Home, in Chicago. “We moved to Ann Arbor from Chicago, and Jayson was my go-to resource for home furnishings when I needed to find something quick. Jayson’s collection is really well curated; they scour the world for vintage finds.”

Above: Capitalizing on the bank of windows in the dining room, Krista built a long window seat, and paired it with a table from Dovetail Furniture and Eames Molded Plastic Dowel Leg Armchairs. The seat cushion is in Bailey, a Sunbrella fabric from Lulu DK that Krista classifies as “the best line of indoor/outdoor fabrics that look anything but indoor/outdoor. They are super durable and stain-resistant–perfect for a dining room bench seat.” The parade of pillows includes designs by John Robshaw and Chanee Vijay. The chandelier is the Gothic Neo-Geo from O’Lampia.

Above: Partially open to the dining and living rooms via archways, the kitchen features an island of Calacatta Gold marble, designed so that the stone appears to cascade over the edge. “It was incredibly complex to achieve; the slab of marble was butterflied, then perfectly mitered in the corners to achieve a seamless waterfall effect.” (Learn more about marble counters in our Remodeling 101 post.) The hanging lights are Thomas O’Brien Hicks Pendants in bronze with antique brass accents from Visual Comfort.

Above: The house’s original kitchen was divided into a high-style laundry room, mudroom, and powder room. In the laundry, the counters are honed Absolute Black granite–”the finish gives them that sophisticated matte look”–and the room is lit by a Lindsey Adelman Clamp Light of blown glass that incorporates a brass-plated industrial clamp.

Above: The sink is made from a zinc washtub that Krista found at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market. She had Metal, her local metal shop, drill a hole in the tub and mount it atop a metal stool base–and from there, her plumber took over. It’s sized perfectly for bathing the family’s Shiba Inu pups, and also for “cleaning the messiest of kid messes and hand-washing delicates.”

Above: The mudroom has custom shelves equipped with baskets similar to the Samantha Seagrass Baskets from Pottery Barn. The cupboard catches and polished nickel knobs are from Merit Metal: “When you compare their latches to what’s widely available, the difference is astounding,” Krista says. “Merit’s are significantly more substantial and hefty, and are designed to last.” The rug is the Song Cotton Carpet by Madeline Weinrib, one of Krista’s design heroes, whom she and Tami interviewed for Cloth & Kind’s Proust on Design blog column.

As for the window shade, Krista tells us: “The design of the mudroom came together around Lee Jofa’s Nympheus fabric in aubergine. The Nympheus hand-block pattern dates back to 1915 and was inspired by the silk panels of a 15th-century Ming dynasty screen. Designer Thomas O’Brien reimagined this archival print for Lee Jofa. It’s not an inexpensive fabric, so the mudroom was a perfect place to use it. It’s a small window, but it’s visible from the kitchen, and I get to admire the pattern every day.”

Above: Krista designed the Quiet Room as a place for her kids, Alex, 7, and Tahlia, 4, to read. It’s furnished with a Indian Woven Daybed available at Calypso St. Barth, and a Dwell Studio Draper Stripe Rug.

Above: A perfect perch: a window seat surrounded by built-in bookshelves. The storage cubes are Serena & Lily’s woven Pandan Bins in silver. The shade is John Robshaw’s Lanka print, and the cushion is John Robshaw’s Kota in linen.

Above: A Limited Edition Vintage Hmong Cross-Stitch Pillow from Non-Perishable Goods. Read about the Portland, Oregon, workshop in our post A Second LIfe for Textile Castoffs.

Above: “Alex is into whales and fish and water,” says Krista, by way of explaining her inventively nautical approach to his room. The bed is cantilevered out from the wall–”during the remodel, we added extra wall studs”–and also supported from underneath and by ropes. The room’s other main attraction, the ceiling light, is Australian designer Henry Pilcher’s Block Light: “I found it online and got obsessed. It’s designed to sit on the floor, but I had it converted into a ceiling fixture.”

Above: Alex’s diamond-patterned duvet is a discontinued item from the Land of Nod. The custom window shades are Katie Ridder’s Beetlecat fabric.

Above: Fiesta Garlands from Non-Perishable Goods complete the shiver-me-timbers look.

Above: A desk was inserted in Alex’s room in a niche that once held a sink. The wall art is a framed Whales Tea Towel by Enormous Champion.

Above: Dynasty Slate Prima, a wallpaper by Eskayel, patterns the third-floor bathroom in a Rorschach-like watercolor print.

Above: The guest room’s wicker bed is from Zak & Fox; Krista snapped it up on One King’s Lane. The bedside light is a Design Your Own Mottega Lamp from Arteriors–”you get to pick all the details: the shape, glaze color, base, and shade,” says Krista. It sits on her great great grandfather’s trunk that made the voyage with him from Sweden to the United States. The pillows are from D. Bryant Archie’s One of a Kind collection.

Above: The master dressing room has custom built-ins painted in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue in high gloss. The area rug is a Vintage Moroccan Wedding Blanket from Maryam Montague’s Red Thread Souk.

Above: Order at the top: In her attic office, Krista built shelves into the eaves. The bins are similar to the Whitewash Rattan Baskets from the Container Store. Krista organizes her magazines and books, like her Pinterest boards, by hue. Watch for Cloth & Kind’s redesigned website launching any day now.

Have a look at more of our House Call posts, including New Paris Style: A Mother and Daughter Houseboat and Endless Summer in a London Victorian. More textiles? Peruse our Fabrics & Linens posts.

And don’t forget: Voting is now under way for the 2014 Remodelista and Gardenista Considered Design Awards. You can vote for the finalists every day until this Saturday, August 8. The winners will be announced August 9.

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