A Look at a Dreamy Lanai in Bloomfield Hills

This three-season room on Gilbert Lake invites lazing and loafing.
Photograph courtesy of Wayup Media

When interior designer Terry Ellis began working on a Bloomfield Township client’s home in 2021, her task was to create their dream home. She was responsible for providing space planning and selecting fabrics and furnishings for all the rooms in the three-bedroom, 5,600-square-foot contemporary home, including this lakeside lanai.

When she asked the couple how they wanted to use the lanai, the homeowners, whose children are grown, told Ellis they wanted the room to accommodate card-playing (Michigan rummy, to be exact) and hanging out. A beautiful fireplace and barbecue grill also adorn the space.

“Guests and family can easily get to the lake, take a boat ride, come back to eat, enjoy a fire, and lounge,” Ellis says.

Ellis’ top three favorite elements of the lanai are the variety of textures, the functional layout, and the view. The home, which was completed last October and was designed by architect Kevin Akey, principal at AZD Associates in Bloomfield Hills, sits on a lot that Ellis says may be “the best” on Gilbert Lake.

“It’s the perfect spot to watch sunsets, and there’s a lot of privacy,” she says. “It faces the south but has visual access to the setting sun.”

Here, the designer — whose company, Room Service for Interior Design, is based at the Michigan Design Center in Troy — provides tips on durable, weatherproof furnishings; easy-maintenance materials; and performance fabrics.

Photograph courtesy of Wayup Media

Sitting room

There’s plenty of seating, which is important in a lanai, Ellis says. The outdoor sectional and “a few chairs for those who prefer to sit upright rather than in the deep, plush sectional” are from Bernhardt Furniture Co. at CAI Designs at the Michigan Design Center.

Deal ’em up

The couple play cards at the concrete dining table. The designer learned from another client not to choose a granite tabletop because cards “fly” across the slick surface. “The concrete table has a sort of mottled top,” she says.

Pillow panache

For the accent pillows, the designer selected Pindler performance fabrics (from the Pindler showroom at the Michigan Design Center). They are great for indoors or out and are stain, fade, and mildew resistant.

On the surface

Even though there are screens and vinyl options for the walls, the space still can be exposed to rain, wind, and dust. “You must think about surfaces that can be wiped down easily. The Sunbrella performance fabrics [which she chose for seat cushion upholstery] are fabulous,” Ellis says.


To have a barbecue grill within this type of covered space, it’s important to install a large fan hood, Ellis says. The grill’s cabinetry is made of a weatherproof wood built for the outdoors. Ellis says high-end appliance stores can point you in the right direction if you’re looking for weatherproof kitchen and grill setups.

A rug plug

Go for a polyurethane rug for indoor-outdoor use, Ellis says. “We chose a handwoven one with a textured pattern, and we had cut right to the inch.” While the rug, from The Ghiordes Knot at the Michigan Design Center, appears to be a sisal or jute material, it’s actually synthetic and the material is extremely durable. “It’s easy to clean,” Ellis says. In fact, the designer had additional runners in this material cut to use indoors.

Neutral zone

The homeowners prefer a neutral palette, and that’s evident throughout the home and in the lanai. Ellis shares that neutral doesn’t mean boring, especially when you have a pleasant mix of materials and textures. “People say neutrals are so boring and vanilla, but look at this room, including those sock-weave chairs around the dining table.” From Bernhardt Furniture Co., the chairs are covered with a supple sock-weave upholstery in a polyester.

Look up

The ceiling is a stained wood plank that echoes the soft-grain, wide-plank flooring in the home’s interior space. Although Ellis didn’t select the ceiling materials, she says they were a brilliant choice that creates a wonderful flow from outdoors to in. “This room has to be an extension to the entire interior.”

Screening for the best

The architect selected a Phantom brand screening system. The screens are remote controlled and can raise up or drop down, offering the homeowners ease and convenience. They also can close off the room with a secondary clear vinyl shade that operates on the same headrail as the screening product.

Table talk

The dining table, from Bernhardt Furniture Co., is made of cast concrete. Considering potential damage from outside elements, Ellis says the stainless-steel base is the way to go. “It’s less prone to corrosion.” Meanwhile, the coffee table, also from Bernhardt, features a striped-stone top, “but it’s laminated so that the surface is protected and easy to clean.”

This story is from the July 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition. And click here to see more metro Detroit interiors.