Finding Our True Gold: Founder Rachel Nelson on the 2021 Detroit Design Awards

Jun 11, 2021 | News, Residential, updates

Ah, awards event season. How we’ve missed you. While the excitement of in-person events took a hiatus in 2020, I was so happy to spend an evening with the RLC team, celebrating the creative industry we are so proud to be a part of. 

The Detroit Design Awards is always a welcome opportunity to reflect back on the incredible clients we’ve had the honor of working with over the past year. It’s a chance for us to throw on a pair of heels and take in the talent of this city. 

On June 3, I was excited to be back gathering with fellow interior designers, architects, and landscape architects, for an evening honoring the incredible work we create for our amazing clients. The award ceremony recognizes the best in show for exteriors and interiors, as well as the detailed design elements like millwork, flooring, and lighting. Personally, I find inspiration in experiencing what my fellow creatives have been working on. It’s so fascinating to see every designer bring their special touch to our shared craft, including the RLC designers. I get to witness the hard work Jackie, Taylor, and Emily bring to our work every day. It’s so great to share their successes with the entire design community during these annual awards.

While we love ooo-ing over the show-stopping estates, it’s the strategic designs of averaged-sized homes that steal the show for us. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—good design doesn’t have to be a luxury. It just has to be strategic. 

RL Concetti took home six awards in five categories, from entire condominiums to spaces that were less than 200 square feet. We’re honored to be among the winners who were all selected by a panel of esteemed judges. 

It is both an honor to share this win with our clients and with you. Thank you for supporting RL Concetti and our effort to create one-of-a-kind spaces that uplift our neighbors.

Here’s a little more about our winning designs:

Apartment, Loft, Condominium – 1st Place:
Living Free in the D

This project is a love story of historic Detroit meets modern bohemian. RLC partnered with Wayne State University’s Interior Design Program to transform an industrial space in Detroit’s Warehouse District into a luxurious bohemian-inspired home. 

We helped transform student designer Sara Pupa’s concept into a reality that met the needs of our clients: a young family searching for a unique space to call their own. It was important to honor their love for the gritty, industrial Detroit aesthetic with their natural, holistic lifestyle. 

Our design maintained the steel eye beams, original concrete floors, and exposed brick, while also incorporating natural materials, soft neutral tones, lush greenery, and rich patterns. 

See the Design in Detail

Contemporary Master Suite: Living Free in the D

The historic Detroit loft also took home a second award, specifically for the light-filled master bedroom suite. We softened the industrial space by bringing in natural elements such as house plants, wicker pendant lamps, soft bedding, and a circular floral-patterned headboard from the client’s own collection. 

The suite is completely open to the master bath, which features an enclosed shower, reclaimed floating vanity and soaking tub. We created a half wall between the soaking tub and sleeping area to purposely blur the lines between the bedroom and bath. 

See the Award-winning Suite in Detail

Apartment, Loft, Condominium – 2nd Place: 
Just Us 2 in A2

RLC took another win from the Apartment category with our Ann Arbor condominium design. Our clients were two empty nesters with a knack for sophisticated style. When they chose to downsize, they wanted to blend their tradition of entertaining with a streamlined lifestyle.

We created a strategic interior design for the brand new condominium, featuring elements that saved space but did not skimp on comfort or style. We tied the open floor plan, including the kitchen, dining, and living room, together with the owners’ favorite color and textures: cobalt blue, mixed metals tones, and rich walnut. Custom made built-ins provided necessary functionality, including a queen-size Murphy bed.

The compact space is filled with rich patterns, stunning artwork, custom light fixtures, and so much more. We are so happy to help our clients usher in a new chapter of their life in this award-winning space.

See the Design in Detail

Contemporary Dining Room: Just Us 2 in A2

Our Ann Arbor condominium design took home another award, solely for the dining room.  Our clients wanted to make a statement, so we pulled in their favorite cobalt blue and gold accents to create a stunning, sophisticated space. 

Lighting played a key role, with two cobalt blue lamps flanking the gorgeous piece of modern and a custom Hubbardton Forge chandelier crowning the table. The warm, walnut-topped table contrasts beautifully with the glamorous gold credenza. We had upholstered chairs custom built to achieve the perfect seat height so as not to obstruct the view. A subtle wood grain wallpaper and large area rug added the finishing touches to this sleek dining space. All together it creates a room that’s perfectly comfortable for everyday use, yet glamorous enough for special gatherings.

See the Award-winning Dining Room in Detail

Kitchen (More than 500 sq. ft.): Too Good To Be Blue

With some supreme problem solving, we turned a dim kitchen into an immersive multi-functional space. Our clients, a busy West Bloomfield family, needed a more modern footprint to make the most of their space and lush woodland surroundings. 

The design process became a structural transformation, as we opened the kitchen and dining room to create space for a show-stopping island and extended windows for more scenic views and natural light. We transformed the eat-in kitchen to a cozy reading nook and beverage station, perfect for drinking morning coffee while looking out over the woods. 

We created a more welcoming dining room where the family could make time to truly enjoy themselves. Abstract art, silver lamps, and plush chairs adorned with naturesque ironwork gave a unique touch to the formal setting. We loved infusing the space with pops of vibrant blues, rich tones and patterns, and stunning vantage points.

See the Kitchen Redesign in Full

Kitchen (Up to 200 sq. ft.) : Rise on the River

When you live in a downtown highrise with a view of the Detroit river, you have to use the views to your advantage. RLC helped our client achieve the fun and open feel of the cityscape below in their condo with a strategic interior redesign. 

We updated the tight floor plan to highlight the stunning views, ensuring every room has a front row seat. By bringing down walls and embracing an open living area, we achieved a cozy yet spacious experience.

Inspired by the water-reflecting light below, we juxtaposed deep blue walls with herringbone white marble to give the space an airy feel. We designed a multi-use kitchen island and custom cabinetry to maximize space. Mixing gold hardware with stainless steel appliances, the kitchen achieved a stunning modern look. 

See the Kitchen Design in Full

While I welcome back awards ceremonies with open arms, at the end of the day—I gauge RL Concetti's success on how our clients feel in their space. Does it bring happiness? Is their every need met? Is this a space where they want to make memories with their family? These are the award-winning questions in my book. 

I can’t wait for another year of strategic interior design and making a positive impact on our client’s lives.

Let’s work together!

If you or anyone you know is ready to create a gorgeous, meaningful space—RL Concetti is the strategic partner to help bring your vision to life.