Leaving her 4,000-square-foot home in Auburn Lakes wasn’t easy for South Franklin Circle resident Emily Blake. Not only was the home metaphorically crammed with memories, it was literally filled with a fine collection of American antiques.
Paring down her treasured pieces to a special few was a challenge. “But I made the decision when my husband died that the house was just too big,” says Emily. “Many of my things went to Habitat for Humanity; others I just gave away.”
The payoff was a brand-new, 1,433-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in South Franklin Circle, where Emily has lived since 2010. “I went to one of the first-ever meetings that they held [for potential residents],” she says. “And I signed up for an apartment within two weeks of the opening.”
While it took some time to sell the Auburn Lakes home, Emily says her new digs were definitely worth the wait. “Not only did I get some input into the apartment’s design, but the location is ideal: Two of my four children live within 10 minutes of me!”
While Emily cheerfully refers to her remaining antiques as “junk,” in reality they are a carefully curated collection of family heirlooms, flea market finds, and antique store purchases. Together, they create a serene yet artful ambiance that is both casual and cozy.
Anchored by off-white walls and carpeting, a spinning wheel is one of the first items a visitor is likely to spot upon entering the home.
“It’s been in my family forever,” says Emily. “It belonged to my great-great grandmother, who I never knew. But my grandmother had it and said she recalled her mother spinning on it. It has great sentimental value.”
A clean-lined hutch, its shelves neatly arrayed with an impressive collection of pewter, is another eye-catcher. Look closely and you may notice that the corniced top slopes gently toward the rear. “It was in my grandmother’s pantry,” Emily explains, “and the top was slanted to fit into the space.”
While both the spinning wheel and hutch are family treasures, Emily admits she is especially attached to a piece in the dining room that she calls “the two-holer”: an eccentric twist on a standard hutch that includes flying-buttress-like extensions on each side, each with a hole in the top.
In this case, speculation is half the fun. “Maybe the holes were originally for sinks,” Emily conjectures. “Or they could have been meant to hold serving bowls. But when they aren’t in use, you can cover the holes with little lids!
“I’m very fond of all my pieces. But really, I would have to say this one is my favorite.”
While Emily isn’t hung up on the ages of her pieces, she is particular about the materials: All her antique furniture is either cherry or walnut, rather than the more common poplar and pine. In contrast, a gleaming set of white-painted shelves was custom-built to accommodate an artful arrangement of blue glassware, lusterware pitchers, and family photos.
Because she bought her apartment before construction, she was able to customize several other parts of her floorplan, including turning a closet into an office and increasing the size of her porch, which now boasts a set of vintage wicker furniture.
“This really feels like home now,” Emily says. “I’m always busy. I take yoga, stretching and balance classes, enjoy the community table at Radius and attend all the different seminars.
“In fact, my kids are always calling me, and I’m never home! ‘Where are you all the time?’ they ask me. But I know they’re glad that I always have so much to do!”