Paradise Restored

New owners breathed renewed life into a neglected 1920s bungalow-style home with a rather casual exterior that belies an inner elegance. Today, the porches and unusual figure-eight floor plan make the house a natural setting for gatherings.


In Pleasant Ridge, merely going for a walk can end in a real-estate deal.

Just one safe block away from their “June Cleaver” colonial, Robert Campbell and Don Daniels had their hearts stolen by a neglected 1920s home dubbed by locals as the “mushroom house” for its distinctive roofline.

“Actually, I’d always admired the house next door [to the mushroom house],” Daniels admits. “This one was in such deteriorated condition.”

But when they heard through the grapevine that the mushroom house was available, they investigated, and their curiosity was rewarded. Behind a tangle of mulberries on one side of the house, they found a lovely conservatory that wasn’t visible from the sidewalk.

Residents in the tiny suburb of just 1,100 homes are known for house hopping. “Many of the people we know are on their second or third [Pleasant Ridge] home,” Daniels says. Campbell counted and found that, indeed, 15 of the 30 homeowners on their block have lived in at least one other Pleasant Ridge home; some are on their third.

In Campbell and Daniels’ case, the move from Poplar Park to Oakland Park put them on a decade-long home-restoration odyssey that, among other things, included a highly detailed, true-to-the-original roof replacement. Through research, they found a Florida-based company that knew how to do a wave-course cedar shingle pattern. “They worked on this roof for seven weeks,” says Daniels, a choral-music director. “We could have bought some rental property for what it cost.”

The distinctive roof earned the home its “mushroom house” nickname.

The painstaking restoration also included adding a master bath (the only actual addition to the original structure). Every window in the house was heat-gun stripped, and the basement was turned into living space with a catering kitchen and Arts and Crafts-style fireplace surround.

“It’s been evolutionary,” Daniels says. “We both wanted to be stewards of the house.” As part of that effort, they gleaned what they could about the home’s history. The original owner built it in the 1920s for his bride, they learned. And the architect was Frederick D. Madison, who designed many public buildings. Interior-designer friends Arturo Sanchez and Barry Harrison (of Art-Harrison Interior Design in Royal Oak) provided a bit of guidance along the way — particularly in the living room.

“There’s a graciousness about the house,” Sanchez says. “It’s so cottage-y outside and so formal inside.”

The exterior appearance — a mix of Arts and Crafts bungalow with hints of Tudor — was aided by a new landscape that emphasized perennials and trees. Campbell, the only male in the Pleasant Ridge garden club, is also a real-estate agent (with Century 21 Town & Country in Birmingham), which makes it appropriate that he helped add curb appeal.

Campbell says they selected the tree varieties they planted based on types once popular in metro Detroit’s older neighborhoods. “If you walk around Boston-Edison and Palmer Woods, there are wonderful beech specimens,” he says. Mostly, Daniels and Campbell based their interior and exterior design choices on what suited their own pleasure, a recipe that has stood the test of time.

“In my profession I’m in so many homes,” Campbell says. “And I always come home feeling good about where I live.”
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Men's Spring Fashion: On The Town

Men's Spring Fashion.

Fall Arts Preview: Upcoming Events

Cultural life is especially vibrant this season. In this section, we offer a glimpse of upcoming exhibits, concerts, and drama, along with an introduction to the fresh faces of the DSO and a look inside a new book devoted to Detroit’s architecturally stunning churches.

2011 Men's Holiday Fashion

MAN ABOUT TOWN: A throwback to an earlier, classic era projects an undeniably suave, masculine appeal.

Best of Detroit 2011

Thousands of readers — the largest number ever — played favorites in online voting for Hour Detroit’s 2011 Best of Detroit list. Check out the 258 winners, and then go play tourist in your own hometown.

Best of Detroit 2013

Thousands of readers selected their favorites in online voting for Hour Detroit’s 2013 Best of Detroit list. Find out who joined the league of over 500 superheroes in the city!
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  5. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  6. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  7. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  8. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  9. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission