“Our house and garden are very personal and reflect the things that we like and enjoy,” says Joel Baird, an interior designer from Mount Clemens. “I like to create interesting ‘rooms’ in the garden that get revealed as you look around. I don’t want you to see everything in one view.”
Joel and his wife, Denise, moved to Mount Clemens decades ago, buying their first house on Smith Street. Their current home, where they have lived for 30 years, is home to their stunning garden. Mount Clemens appealed to Joel from the start. “I grew up in Armada,” he explains, “and used to come to Mount Clemens for doctor visits. I would drive through this neighborhood when getting back over to Groesbeck to go home. I always loved the old houses and architecture here.”
Professionally, Joel works collaborating with designers on hand-knotted rugs and custom broadloom carpet designs at the Michigan Design Center’s Ghiordes Knot showroom, along with his own interior design company, Baird Design Group.
Of course, Joel doesn’t limit his love of design to his work. At home, his garden reflects his eye for color, style, and natural beauty. “I designed the garden over the years and have refined it along the way. We like to have a very relaxed, cottage-style garden with a pergola and sunroom as features for guests.”
Among the plantings, including Denise’s beloved hydrangeas, Joel incorporates art in the yard, displayed on the house, in the sunroom, and throughout the garden. Some are Joel’s original work, while others are pieces he and his wife have collected. They also collect china and items with thistle motifs, which they worked into the design of a custom garden gate.
The sunroom, the perfect spot for spending a pleasant afternoon, was built about 20 years ago, along with a carriage house. “Many of the homes in this area have original carriage houses in the back yard due to the access to the old alleys,” says Joel. “We studied the other buildings and built a similar story and a half building with a stairway and a full second story for storage.” The sunroom, attached to the carriage house, “feels like it is part of the garden since it has windows on three sides and sits in the formal garden.”
Many of the homes in the neighborhood feature fairy gardens around the bases of trees, notes Joel, and their home is no exception. “We just started ours this year, at the base of our magnolia tree in the shade garden by our front door. I handmade some of the items and we are slowly adding things as we find them. We like to have one new item each time our granddaughter comes here.”
Joel’s advice to those looking to elevate their own gardens is to start by selecting areas for structural focal points, such as architectural items and urns. For interest, install an easy-to-maintain water feature. “We have two that just recycle water from reservoirs underneath, so no children can fall in and harm themselves,” he says. When it comes to the plants, Joel recommends planning for year-round interest, with a variety of blooming times for flowers. Also, “mix green leaf plants and trees against red leaf plants and trees—gardens are more about contrast than matching colors.”
At home or in the garden, Joel and Denise love living in Mount Clemens. “Whenever we discuss moving,” he says, “we decide not to—it would be very difficult to find another house in a community as interesting as what we already have.”
Visit Joel’s Instagram account @joelrbaird to see more of his work.