Doreen Hunter: The House Whisperer

Doreen Hunter The Style Whisperer
For this home in Rosedale Park, the client wanted their home to reflect their heritage as “Black Americans”. Hunter incorporated their artifacts, artwork and wide collection of books. The space provides a perfect area for reading and for the couple to host their book club meetings.

Doreen Hunter fondly remembers her childhood and afternoon drives with her family through Detroit’s historic neighborhoods. She was fascinated by the huge mansions and wondered what lay behind those massive doors and beveled windows. It was that early inspiration that led her to a career in design. 

Headshot of Doreen Hunter
Doreen Hunter Interior Designer

After briefly studying business and law, she realized her real passion lie in design and architecture. She ultimately earned her B.A. in design from Central Michigan University. However, it wasn’t easy for a young black woman in the 1980’s to make her mark in an industry that was dominated by white men and women. After ten years of pursuing her dream she landed her first design project.

Now, more than thirty years later, Doreen has achieved a level of success which includes being named the first African-American President of the Michigan Chapter of the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). “This position means so much to me, especially after years of struggling to make a name for myself in the industry”, Hunter explains. “Interior Design has changed so much over the years and it’s exciting to see that professionals are more sought after than ever”.

When asked about her process when taking on a new client, Doreen notes that listening is the most important skill that a Designer can possess. After thoroughly understanding the needs of the client, she helps them to bring their vision to life, always with the thought of practicality and functionality in mind. “Understanding and discussing a realistic budget is crucial to a successful partnership with a client. If there’s any mystification in that process, the results can be disastrous”, the designer commented.

Supply chain slowdowns as a result of the pandemic have been a major issue as of late. Doreen noted an appliance delivery for one of her clients that took nine months. In addition to residential work, Hunter is well-known for her work on retail and commercial projects where these delays can create an entire host of issues. The shortages and slowdowns create a huge challenge for designers and their clients.  As a result, Doreen has gotten creative in re-purposing existing pieces for her clients or sourcing one-of-a-kind antiques and artifacts from private sources to complete her projects.

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When we asked the Designer what her favorite current trend is, she didn’t hesitate to remark on how big a role technology plays in the way we live. “Homes now have totally integrated systems which provide maximum accessibility, ease and comfort”. When asked about her least favorite trend she hesitated slightly, “I don’t get too caught up on whatever the current trend is. If you stay true to your design aesthetic and the need of your clients, the work will speak for itself”. Doreen focuses on building rapport and trust with her clients. It is their personality that she looks to represent in her work to create a home that is truly a reflection of its owners.

Hunter reinvigorated an outdated bathroom for her Rosedale Park clients. The subtle grey tones make the space seem very spacious and elegant. Not shown is the linen closet with roll out shelves to maximize storage. The long narrow space presented challenges but the use of bright white and a paired down vanity create an elegant streamlined look. For the Rosedale Park kitchen renovation, the Designer created a harmonious look with the use of wheat, honey and earth tones. The room is anchored with a large colorful painting.

For this home in Rosedale Park, the client wanted their home to reflect their heritage as “Black Americans”. Hunter incorporated their artifacts, artwork and wide collection of books. The space provides a perfect area for reading and for the couple to host their book club meetings.

Doreen’s tips for sourcing a professional Interior Designer

When selecting a professional Interior Designer, it is important to create a dialogue and discuss how he or she works. Looking at the Designer’s portfolio and scope of work is important but that first face-to-face meeting is crucial in determining if there is a natural connection between the client and the professional.

To learn more about hiring a Designer and source local professionals, go to www.asid.org 

Additional information about the Design profession can be found at www.mi.asid.org or www.accredit-id.org 

Palmer Woods photos by Boswell                                                                                                                      

Rosedale Park photos by Jeff Garland

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