ROYAL OAK, MI – For Debbie and Mel Christiansen, a fresh start means a second marriage for each, a custom-decorated loft at SkyLofts MarketSquare and the opportunity to travel together, as his corporate career takes him around the world.
Debbie Christiansen, 49, said MarketSquare’s “lock and leave” qualities especially suited the couple’s new life. Mr. Christiansen, 54, travels frequently as a managing director for AlixPartners, a corporate restructuring and consulting firm. The maintenance-free condominium lifestyle means she can join him at a moment’s notice.
“To be able to pick up and go – this is absolutely ideal,” she said. “We pack our suitcases and walk out the door.” Since marrying in April they honeymooned in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and visited Hawaii, California, New York, Washington, D.C. and Europe.
The couple thoroughly researched the options for combining her Southfield apartment and his Troy condO into one household.
“We looked in Birmingham,” she said, “but that’s not us.” They knew they wanted a condominium, but weren’t even looking for a loft until Mr. Christiansen found MarketSquare online. They came to Royal Oak and mistakenly visited another development. Dissatisfied, they drove past MarketSquare on their way home and Mr. Christiansen said, “I think that’s the place we wanted to see.” One look was all it took.
“We knew as soon as we walked in this was going to be our space,” Mrs. Christiansen said. They instantly fell for the openness, high ceilings and light flooding in through the windows. They also “clicked” with New Homes Manager Michelle Harrier. “She’s fabulous,” Mrs. Christiansen said.
The couple often samples the many restaurants in walkable Royal Oak, but the open kitchen and island have inspired Christiansen to cook more. They entertain on weeknights, since they and their circle of friends tend to travel on weekends. Their guests appreciate MarketSquare’s ample visitor parking.
The couple also values the heated, indoor parking, where Mrs. Christiansen parks and where they keep her husband’s sports car. (One garage space is included with all MarketSquare lofts).
When choosing an interior decorator, Christiansen turned to Mary Jane Williamson. Before establishing an independent business, Williamson worked in corporate design at Troy’s Ford & Earle, and Christiansen, former facilities administrator at AlixPartners, had been a client. While the couple honeymooned, Williamson went to work creating a rich, warm, copper-brushed environment in their new home.
Williamson used intense, saturated wall colors throughout the loft. The walls of the great room and kitchen and dining area are a deep mink brown, the bedroom intense olive green and the master bath brick red. The flex room, used as a den, has one wall in a dark, brown-tinged red.
The backsplash in the kitchen is composed of one-inch Bisazza glass tiles, brushed with copper. It pulls together the honey oak cabinets, stainless steel appliances and the existing granite countertop, with its dark brown field and red flecks.
Sheer drapes filter light from the east-facing windows and the door wall leading to the generous terrace.
“I wanted something elegant and not too stuffy,” Christiansen said. “I love the daylight.” Similar sheers in the bedroom have a heavier under-curtain for privacy and darkening.
The custom Marulanga leather sofa and fabric chair in the seating area are convertible. One minute they have a high back, the next minute it folds forward to provide cushy lumbar support. Two molded wood stools can double as additional seating or tables. Modern leather bar stools can be pulled up to the island or lowered on their pneumatic base for use elsewhere.
While theirs is a new home and a new start, the Christiansens maintained links with their personal histories with decorative items and practical pieces of furniture. A collection of Ecuadorian figurines and folk wood carvings reflects Mel Christiansen’s upbringing with missionary parents. A zebra rug in the den came from his expedition to a Texas wild game ranch. Mrs. Christiansen still has her teenage hope chest and they store glass and crystal in a Victorian china cabinet she discovered at an estate sale. Both older pieces blend well with the contemporary dining set and living room furniture. Everywhere in the loft one sees photos of the couple together.
SkyLofts MarketSquare is located at 101 Curry Avenue and 11 Mile Road, two blocks east of Main Street in downtown Royal Oak. The information center is open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. One- and two- bedroom loft condominiums are available; pricing is from the $220s. All available lofts are completed and ready for immediate move in.
Founded in 1993, Morningside Group is a real estate development firm that specializes in creating premier mixed-use and multi-family developments in urban locations throughout the Midwest. Long recognized as a leader in the design and construction of highly acclaimed buildings, Morningside Group has built an enviable track record of successful public-private partnerships.
Morningside’s incomparable work ensures that each new development will join a growing portfolio of prized buildings which includes, in Michigan, SkyLofts Royal Oak, and Liberty Lofts in Ann Arbor and, in Illinois, Arbor Court and Prairie Town Center in Oak Lawn, Crescent Court and Museum Square in Elmhurst, Morningside Square in Downers Grove, The Glen Astor in Glen Ellyn and buildings in Evanston and Skokie.
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