Friday, May 11, 2012

Detroit News: "HGTV Program Makes Area Designer A Star"

 Bloomfield Hills designer Corey Damen Jenkins shows his flair

Article by Susan R. Pollack

Bloomfield Hills designer Corey Damen Jenkins, above left, created this Old World Italian kitchen and breakfast nook in his showhouse for the HGTV “Showhouse Showdown” competition, which he won. The episode aired twice in March. (HGTV / Scripps Network)
Corey Damen Jenkins, an interior designer in Bloomfield Hills, almost didn't return a phone call from HGTV inviting him to participate in "Showhouse Showdown," a nationally televised reality design competition.
"I felt at first that it was a joke, someone messing with me," says the 35-year-old designer.

Jenkins, who was one of two Michigan designers cast from among 52 considered, went on to win the competition with his Old World Italian farmhouse design. It featured hand-scraped planked floors and Tuscan-plastered walls finished with an eight-step hand-application process.

Filmed in Midland but called "Saginaw Michigan Showdown," the episode aired recently on HGTV. During a Saturday open house, about 800 locals came out in the pouring rain to tour. The first 100 were given scorecards to determine the winner. And Jenkins is now a featured designer — along with the likes of Candice Olson and David Bromstad — in's national Designers' Portfolio, an online resource viewed by millions.

An Oakland County native, Jenkins spent 10 years in purchasing for the auto industry before launching his design firm, DWV: Design with Vision, in 2009. Homestyle recently caught up with the busy designer to learn more about his work:

Congratulations on winning the showdown . How did you get involved?
The folks at HGTV saw my website and gave me a call. I didn't call them back at first. … Later, when they called me back (to say he'd been picked for the show), I almost dropped the phone.

What did you do then?
I drove up to Midland, which is not exactly my background. I wanted to get to know the area.

Was the show challenging ?
I've never had to design so quickly! I prefer to bake my design versus microwaving. It really showed me what I could do under pressure and tight time constraints. Gorman's was very supportive and enabled me to get custom pieces quickly. Showrooms at the Michigan Design Center — Robert Allen and Kravet — supplied the fabrics that gave the house that really luxurious finish and feel. And several local family-owned companies, such as Designer Furniture Services, donated literally thousands of dollars and manpower. That's how I was able to maximize my budget.

What's your background?
I grew up in Pontiac and Auburn Hills and later Rochester Hills. I graduated from Pontiac Northern (1996).
Early on, I always knew I wanted to get into this field. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I was rearranging my parents' furniture. They did a major remodel when I was maybe 13 and I came up with some ideas: I had a color swatch with my mom's handkerchiefs and scarves and I drew out sketches. I was very serious.
In school, I took architecture, drafting, everything that was remotely related to design. I took a lot of trade school classes — I just loved that.

Jenkins stocked the "Showdown" house wine cellar with Michigan-made wines from Fieldstone Winery in Rochester. Beth Singer
After high school?
I had an opportunity for a scholarship to the Center for Creative Studies (now the College for Creative Studies) in Detroit. And I had an offer from a New York-based construction firm looking for interns for historical hotel restoration projects. I decided to move to New York at 19 and worked on some gorgeous renaissance-style hotels.

What happened after that?
Then I had a bit of a career shift. My dad's a banker, my mom is in the banking industry and both my (younger) brothers, too. I was making a clear break from tradition. My dad really wanted me to focus on business; he didn't want any starving artist kids.
So I did purchasing for 10 years in the automotive industry. It was a postponement of my dreams but I'm really glad I got that experience. Now I know how to crunch numbers, too. Eventually I got laid off.

Then what?
I did decorating here and there, some nonprofit community work, pro bono design projects. … And then I decided to take control of my own career, my own destiny. In 2009 I started DWV: Design With Vision in Bloomfield Hills.

How's business?
I have two assistants working for me. We've been able to maintain a consistent flow, mainly word of mouth. Most of our work is in Grand Blanc, Davisburg, Northville, Ann Arbor, Oakland Township, and I'm starting now to get some in Birmingham.

What are you working on?
Right now I'm juggling six different projects. One is a family in Northville with a very Park Avenue/contemporary meets traditional mix. And her sister hired us in Ann Arbor for a huge, 22-space project. It's in a totally different direction, more rustic.

The Northville project is an entire first floor — kitchen, breakfast nook, parlor, foyer, two sunrooms on each end of the family room. In the living room we installed a black and white, Greek key-pattern carpet. The walls are a soft taupey gray and the sofa is a bright lemony velvet. It's modern-traditional, very clean, very exciting. There's lots of crystal but very contemporized.

Any other cool projects?
I've been working with a Davisburg couple on their home since 2010; we stepped outside the box with honey-colored walls and fun plaid carpet. They called us back to remodel the kitchen, a study and the second floor. I'm excited about the study: I'm covering the walls and ceiling with a vintage-looking geographic map. There's a chair rail framing the room's perimeter and from that point down I'm running a masculine hound's-tooth wallpaper.

I like doing the unexpected, something different. If I can move clients outside their comfort zone even 5 percent I feel I've done my job.

This warm bedroom master suite helped Jenkins win HGTV's "Saginaw Michigan Showdown" design competition. HGTV/Scripps Network
How would you describe your design style?
A fresh continental mix of traditional and modern design. I like things mixed and matched. You'll never see me do a 100 percent period room. Like with the HGTV Tuscan house, I had crocodile-skin upholstered chairs — so whimsical. I can't really explain the rationale. If it works and I'm feeling it, I just do it.
I try to stay away from trends. I don't want to have to "Botox" any of my rooms — I don't want them to look dated. In our economy staying power is very important.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love working out, hitting the gym. Staying fit, mentally healthy, is important — this is such a detail-oriented job. I still love drawing — there are sketches on my website — and I love reading decorating books, trade magazines. I really eat and breathe and drink the stuff.
(313) 222-2665

Thursday, May 10, 2012

SNEAK PEAK: New Powder Room Design!

Click on photo to enlarge

SNEAK PEAK: Over the last year, our firm has been constructing an exciting residential project in Northville, Michigan. In what we'd like to call a modernized "Europe Meets Park Avenue" style, the entire first floor of this  home is being dressed in a black and white color concept, tempered with soft gray. To break up the monotony, each room will have differentiating vibrant pops of color ranging from citrine to tangerine!  Here's a look at the powder room where the Cole & Son paper is currently being installed. The ceiling has been treated in a black, high gloss finish. A petite Nulco chandelier featuring black and clear crystal drops is planned for the vanity area; this will add a touch of feminine elegance to this space.

Adjacent to the foyer, we are designing this powder room to serve as an "appetizer" of things to come for visiting guests. We appreciate our fearless clients!

Detroit News: "Music room features timeless, classic design"

 Article By Jeanine Matlow

"In a world filled with iPods and other devices, it's uplifting to see a traditional music room. This was the concept chosen last fall by Corey Damen Jenkins, principal of Design With Vision in Bloomfield Hills, for The Art of Designing with Antiques series at Judy Frankel Antiques Centre in Troy.
What the designer dubbed "Salon de Musique" was meant to be different from anything that had been created for the series.

"I wanted to do something no one else had done before. It was my interpretation of a classic music room," says Jenkins, who took advantage of the French pieces available in the gallery at the time. "Technology can date. Fifteen years from now, today's technology will be dated. My goal is to give clients a space that is timeless and always looks fresh and classic."

Seemingly disparate objects worked together like an Art Deco-style table, French painted bookcases and a Napoleon-style desk in the study area (not shown). Traditional French armchairs were paired with contemporary art. Animal prints appeared in the rug and pillows. Most of the gilded mirrors are from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

"The arrangement on the wall made a very narrow room seem larger. When used in conjunction with each other, they make such a powerful statement," Jenkins says.

Corbels that held decorative objects broke up the mirrors and "brought an unexpected element to the wall that provides balance," he says.

A stately piano from Evola Music in Bloomfield Hills was brought in along with a Baker sofa from the Michigan Design Center in Troy. The artwork above the sofa is by Lenore Gimpert.

Jenkins says we should think of pianos as furniture that should be showcased. This music room was divided into three distinct sections. The piano provided a place for people to gather in the middle, while the study was on one side and the seating area on the other.

"The way we live now is that we have to find more purposes for one space. Everyone could enjoy the piano because it was centrally located in the space," says Jenkins, who added themed references throughout, such as framed music notes in the study.

"I like to do something that's subtle without beating you over the head with it," he says.
A trio of chandeliers defined the different areas. "Together, they made an amazing composition, while adding a beautiful decorative element," Jenkins says.

Crown molding added interest to the walls, which were covered in a light shade of cream. "It's the whole that made the impact, not the parts," says Jenkins. Though his creation is no longer on display, the inspiration lives on. The designer is working on a music room for one of his clients.

For information, contact Corey Damen Jenkins at (248) 770-5771 or go to

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at