Adorno Magazine “Casual Elegance: The Rittingers Define Their Style”

Published August 23, 2014 by BETH GIUFFRE | Photography by DAVID DUNCAN LIVINGSTON.

The long windows in the living room bring in the lush green surroundings


For their remodel, Ann and Bill Rittinger saw their home in Oakland County, Michigan as having a more approachable and unpretentious feel. Surrounded by lakes and greenery, they wanted the house to have a more sophisticated, waterfront feel. At the same time, Ann wanted her guests to be able to walk inside and feel comfortable, with nothing off limits to guests of any age.

At the beginning of the project, the couple hired their first interior designer. Their vision was not compatible with the designer’s desires for the space. Giving the project another chance, they hired up-and-coming designer Corey Damen Jenkins, who was able to step in and design a harmonious home for the family of four.

“We just had to find the balance between good design and livable design,” Jenkins said.

As a recent winner of the HGTV reality series “Showhouse Showdown,” Jenkins has been making a name for himself and his Michigan firm, Design With Vision. Focused on the service that designers provide to clients, Corey jokes that he “never takes himself too seriously.” This has made him a favorite among them.

Bill and Ann like practically every genre of design, from traditional to French Country, so Jenkins went to work to help define their style. “The challenge was helping them understand who they were as people,” Corey said. “I really had to funnel their desire to want a cohesive package. They loved everything, but they only had one house.”

Jenkins also wanted to help the Rittingers understand that their preferences might change over time. “And that’s okay,” he said, “You don’t have to decorate your house for the next 50 years. It can be one design for now and you raise your kids with it, you move them out and you can do your own thing when they are gone.”

The Rittinger family at home

The old ship log was a special find at a local antique dealer

The two-story homes of Michigan are difficult to heat and difficult to design for, with the rooms’ soaring ceiling heights. For the Rittingers’ two-story home, Jenkins made the living room feel more intimate and inviting by adding window treatments.

The warm paint palette is meant to invite you in from the cold, white winters of Michigan. The honey-toned color, deliciously titled Applesauce Cake, is also the perfect complement to every complexion. Jenkins, who wants his clients to look like movie stars in their home says, “Paint color and lighting play a huge role in that. We did testers to see what would look best against their complexion, against their environment, and that color just makes them look amazing.”

During the renovation, the overmantle was added to the fireplace, as well as crown molding to bring architectural interest to the 18-foot walls. “It was like a big cardboard box when we started,” said Jenkins. The classic plaid-patterned carpet was chosen to ground the room and to give it some personality. While she was initially nervous about having such a strong pattern, Ann loves the durability of the pattern and the whimsical feeling it ignites.

The office in the Rittinger household is a splae used by everyone. Ann’s books from her work as a teacher fill the Grange bookcase shelves, which complement the 18th-century antique desk. It was important to make the space conducive for her children to do their homework undisturbed; they can simply close the French doors and have a focused study area.

Being careful not to go too over the top, Jenkins had fun with the room, adding a varied scale of plaid and patterns. He ran a Ralph Lauren map on the walls and ceilings above the chair rails to give the room some visual interest, and applied a fine, houndstooth paper below the chair rail. A one-of-a-kind chandelier from a local showroom adds warm ambiance to the space and the sconces were chosen to bring in the Cape Cod effect, keeping consistency throughout the house.

The Rittingers are drawn to the Cape Cod style of living: elegant, but casual. Thus, the genesis of the bedroom originated from the warm, beach-inspired colors of powder-soft periwinkle blue and sandy taupe. The room, which was furnished with a mere two TV trays on either side of the bed prior to Jenkins’ arrival, is now a sunny, year-round retreat for the couple.

The picture-frame molding on the wall that Jenkins added gives the room dimension and architectural interest while the ceiling, which is lined with wood veneer wallpaper, brings in the feel of nature. At the same time, the geometric-patterned carpet lends a contemporary feel. Ann loves an antique, weathered look on furniture, so Jenkins also incorporated some painted furniture pieces. The nickel-plated sconces, designed to balance all of these pieces with a little bit of sparkle and glam, finish off the room with the understated elegance that dictates Cape Cod living.

GIUFFRE, BETH. “Casual Elegance: The Rittingers Define Their Style.”Adorno. 23 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2015. <>.