Way to Go: Loft Living Suits Them Just Fine

A television on a turntable in the middle of a wall and a Murphy bed built from Lowe’s cabinets and hardware found on the Internet demonstrate the creative customizability of the spaces available at SkyLofts MarketSquare in Royal Oak.

With a simple swivel, Tony Walser and Bob Burrell can watch their 40-inch LCD TV from the living room in their loft or from the bedroom. For that matter, they can angle it for easy viewing from their open kitchen.

“It’s a flexible space. The TV wall was just a divider Ð and not load-bearing,” said Walser, a manufacturing engineer at Ford Motor Co. He used oak boards to craft a cabinet to frame the television screen and hold other electronic components. He stained it black to create a smooth backdrop. The power is simply fed through the wall up from the bottom and the cable wire comes in from the top. On the opposite side of the swivel is a contemporary painting. Depending on where they are watching television, the painting serves as a focal point in the opposite room.

To accommodate a home office as well as visiting friends and family, Walser built a bed that folds up against the wall in the loft’s flex room. He assembled pantry-sized cupboards in a cherry finish to create depth and a frame around the bed, then built the bed’s platform and mounted it between the cabinets, using the Create-a-Bed hardware found online. The bed uses a standard mattress. When overnight company arrives, they simply fold down the bed to create a guest room. When they do not have visitors, it is folded up and resembles a wall-to-wall armoire allowing more room for their home office. The loft’s 10-foot high exposed concrete ceilings still leave plenty of room for decorative objects and pictures above.

“The legacy of lofts is that of spaces that are infinitely customizable,” said David Strosberg of Morningside Group, developer of SkyLofts MarketSquare, 101 Curry Avenue. “We adopt universally-appealing elements of that legacy Ð high ceilings, exposed systems, open floor plans Ð while adding the amenities that today’s homebuyers want. That still leaves plenty of room for the kind of creativity that Tony and Bob have demonstrated.”

Burrell, 55, and Walser, 45, were living in a 1927 Ferndale “shotgun” house two years ago when they began an intense search for a new home. They looked all over southeast Michigan, from Ann Arbor to Mount Clemens. They considered every kind of housing, including attached and detached condos and single-family homes, but “every time we looked in our price range we found a 1950s bathroom and a kitchen needing work,” Burrell said. “I said, ‘I’m just too old for this.'” The Morningside concept struck an immediate chord. “We liked the modern feel Ð a little industrial but with a more refined look,” he said. They were the first residents to move into the building.

Sand-colored walls in the loft provide a backdrop for earth-toned furnishings, gleaming metallics and splashes of the primary colors that predominated in their former home. They shopped at a veritable Yellow Pages of Detroit furniture and accessories stores. The black leather sofa came from Macy’s furniture outlet at Northland Center. The flex room’s office cabinets are from IKEA, stools at the extra-long kitchen peninsula came from Bright Ideas, the print chair from Art Van and the coffee table from Scott Shuptrine. Then again, a coat of red paint and modern hardware on a 1940’s era dresser in the bedroom turned it from bland blonde to a boffo contemporary piece.

Burrell has the eye for accessories and color and he likes to paint. He serves as Walser’s assistant on their projects. One test of their relationship was remodeling the bathroom together in their old house, which was a success despite the incident with the sledgehammer and the toilet.

“It’s a blessing and a curse with Tony,” he chuckled.”These creative types just go off sometimes.”

Burrell retired from a job in quality control at Ford Motor Co. in 2007. MarketSquare’s location suits his new status.

“We wanted to be in a city, where there are plenty of things to do,” he said. “Everything is so close. I can walk to the library, Superior Fish, CVS and a hardware store.”

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 a 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.

Click here to visit the SkyLofts MarketSquare website!

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