For Candace Griffin, there’s no place quite like Detroit. Maybe it’s her childhood memories (she grew up in nearby Lansing), the city’s rich musical history, or the city’s current renaissance, but after stints in Chicago and San Francisco, the designer and owner of Candace Mary Interiors moved back to the city with her wife, Pippa Laundy, to jump-start her business and lay down some roots.
“My parents are still in Lansing and we wanted to be closer to them,” says Candace. “There’s also great energy and lots of soul in Detroit; it just felt like the right fit for us.”
From the start, the couple had their hearts set on finding an old home, something that embodied the spirit of the city. They found it in a 3,300-square-foot circa 1921 Colonial with plenty of old-school charm. The home was completely renovated by the previous owners, and although many of the updates were welcome (HVAC, plumbing), other more cosmetic “improvements” had to go.
The scope of work ranged from the easy (brass outlet covers, lots of paint) to the extreme (a top-to-bottom bathroom reno, rebuilding the chimney). And while most people in this day and age knock down walls with abandon, Candace opted to erect one in the master bedroom. “It was one long room and we weren’t using the space well,” she says. “On one side, we had open racks with shoes and clothes everywhere, and it was always a mess that we could see from every angle of our bedroom.”
So she created a separate dressing room, outfitted with budget-friendly cabinetry. “We went with Ikea’s PAX system and then elevated it with fun hardware,” says Candace. She later found a center island—a steal on Facebook Marketplace—and painted it a complementary white.
The kitchen also needed extra attention even though almost everything in it was completely new. To get in the zone, she brought in updated hardware and appliances.
“Cooking is a creative outlet for me,” says Candace. “I like to zone out when I’m doing it, and it brings me peace.”
She also installed a hexagon-tile backsplash and upper cabinets for additional storage, and carved out an adjacent bar area in the eat-in nook. “That’s for Pippa,” she explains. “We really like entertaining and mixing up cocktails.”
Candace’s signature sip is the Last Word—gin, green Chartreuse, lime, and Maraschino liqueur—which originated in Detroit in the early 1900s; Pippa’s is a classic Pink Lady.
Now that their projects are complete, it’s time for the couple to clink glasses back in the spot where they met: the Windy City. Says Candace, “Detroit has been good to me and a special place for us, so the plan is to still take design projects in Detroit. But we are hoping to grow our little family, and it will be nice to be close to loved ones in Chicago.”
And of course, she’s already started making a lengthy to-do list for the “new” house—a faux prairie–style home built in the 1990s—beginning with paint and ending with a totally refurbished kitchen.
“I don’t think it would ever feel right for me to move into a house that is completely ‘done,’ ” she says with a laugh.
By Laura Kostelny | Photographs by Diana Paulson | Before images courtesy of Candace Griffin | Prop styling by Candace Griffin