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Renovation Extraordinaire

Ridge Road Transformation

In 2017, a team of experienced designers, carpenters, and craftsmen took on an enormous project on Ridge Road in Grosse Pointe. The 7,500-square-foot, five-bedroom, center hall colonial home built in 1920 needed to be completely overhauled.  

Todd Emerson, founder and president of Sterling Custom Homes & Renovation, and his brother, business partner, and vice president, Marc Alexander, were at the helm of this incredible transformation.  “There were sagging floors and staircases and all these structural issues that we had to straighten out first,” says Todd. “We redesigned the floor plan, moved many walls including load-bearing walls, added doors and windows, finished the basement, and did many other things to create beautiful spaces.”

The home contains some very unique elements, such as a glass-enclosed wine cellar that divides the kitchen and the dining room, an art studio for Harriet to paint, and even an elevator. “In the art studio, we exposed the brick on the inside, and then for the floor, we used reclaimed wood from an old firehouse in Detroit,” he says. “We put a clear coating on it, but didn't sand it, so it looks very vintage.” The ceiling is open to rough-hewn wood beams which give it a rustic look. The whole room feels like it’s been there for ages and isn’t something that was recently renovated.”

The shower in the spa-like master bath is also, literally, a work of art. There is a custom-made floral mosaic on the shower wall that was reproduced by Milestone Tile & Marble from a piece of artwork. “It has white flowers on a black background and it's very pretty,” says Todd.

The master bedroom closet is every woman’s (and some men’s) dream come true. The size of another bedroom, it can fit whatever is acquired on even the largest shopping spree. The mirrored doors and built-in vanity ensure a perfectly put-together look.

Another bathroom has a gold-finished vanity with a black countertop sink and gold accents. Beautiful glass sconces hang on each side of the mirror above.

Harriet, he explains, wanted to restore the house and modernize it for today's living, and that's exactly what they did. Crown molding and other elegant details were added to create interest in every room.

Sterling Custom Homes & Renovation didn’t stop with the inside. They had Detroit Garden Works come in and create lovely gardens, peaceful fountains, and comfortable seating areas that make the grounds feel like a sanctuary. Visitors may actually feel like they’re in England or France. “The owner, Deborah Silver, is a really good architect,” he says. “There’s an enormous steel pergola that is custom made and about 75 by 75 feet.”

Harriet was so happy with the finished projects inside and out that Todd and Marc actually brought her to the design awards event after having dinner beforehand with her and their wives.

When it comes to designing homes, Todd finds that most homeowners have very specific requests. The most popular today, of course, are open floor plans. They also want big mud rooms and a lot of high-end appliances and cabinetry with plenty of storage in the kitchens. In the Ridge home, floor-to-ceiling cabinets and a huge island with plenty of drawers and comfortable seating were installed. The black trim around the cabinets, windows, and French doors set off the pristine white theme of the rest of the kitchen. Gold accents add an elegant look to the streamlined countertops and cabinets. This same white and gold color scheme is carried over into the master bath and master closet to tie the different rooms together in a seamless fashion.

Todd adds, “They also want big garages that are very well organized and heated. In Harriet's house, we completely restored her garage, coated the floors, and put up a commercial slot wall so that she could hang hooks anywhere along the perimeter.”

Wanting a home to be as maintenance-free as possible is also huge.  “We accomplish that by using synthetic materials, as well as durable natural materials like stone and brick,” he says. “On the exterior of a house, instead of using wood, we’ll use a PVC plastic material that looks like wood and comes in all different sizes. We can trim a whole house with that, and it's paintable so we can paint it any color you want.”

Other common installations include saunas, steam rooms, and heated floors. And, COVID has definitely changed what is being requested in new builds and remodels. With many people working from home, offices are very important. Incorporating entertainment spaces into designs is also a huge demand.

“Everybody wants a finished basement, to have that extra space,” says Todd. Here, the family can watch movies, play games, or work out. “We don’t even build new homes anymore that don’t include exercise rooms.”

Control4 and other home automation technologies are also very popular. With these, he explains, you have one remote that can control all of your televisions, your lighting, and your thermostats. You can even turn on your fireplaces. You can also access any cameras that may be located around your house and enable you to see the video feed right on your TV screen. It can control just about every function in your house.

As far as lot sizes, he says that depends on personal preferences. A lot of people like privacy and to be far away from others, while others still want to be part of a neighborhood, especially if they have kids.

The demand for new homes and remodeling has definitely increased since COVID. “Everybody wanted to improve their space because they were stuck at home,” he says. “We had a record year last year and we are definitely on pace to beat that by 20% this year. If I could find the property, if I could find the lots, I would build more, but the lots are so expensive and they're so few and far between.”

To find out more about Sterling Development Corporation, 248.203.2036 or go to