It was never Jeff Mitchell's intention to move to Hamtramck, but he found and fell in love with a "hidden gem" on Yemans Street.
The Chicago-style home was built in 1999 from the ground up after the previous home burned down. Designer and builder Scott Kosick purchased the lot at a city auction for $1,500. In Hamtramck, the lots are small — so the only place to build is up. The 2,500-square-foot home is 20-feet wide, 35-feet tall, and about 50-feet long.
Turns out Jeff's great-great-grandfather, Hisa Mitchell, and his great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth, settled in Hamtramck from Germany.
"Hisa's son, great-grandpa Henry, and his siblings attended Hamtramck schools. He only made it to eighth grade. One of Henry's brothers — so my great uncle — was city treasurer and Mitchell Street is named after him," said Jeff about his unexpected connection to the area.
There was something different about the home he purchased in 2004, which has become quite the attraction with airy, sunlit living space spread over three stories. Jeff realized just how different when grabbing the paper in his pajamas one morning.
"There were like 30 people standing there with cameras," he said. "It's become a point of interest. It doesn't look like any other house in the neighborhood. Cars stop. People stop. Walking tours come by in the summer months."
It was quite the transition for Dimitrius when he first moved in six months after he started dating Jeff in September 2012. The couple married this year in August.
"Every time we are outside, members of the community ask questions. Whether they want to know more about the house or they want advice or ideas," said Dimitrius, who is not shy about his passion for home decorating.
"When he arrived, things changed. He started redesigning the kitchen and the guest room right away," said Jeff.
The grand tour begins with first-floor ceilings that rise 10 feet. A dumbwaiter in the kitchen is one of many fun secrets and surprises in the home as is the instrumental music played throughout which creates a relaxing ambiance. The Mitchells decorate on a budget, designing Oriental and Egyptian themed rooms with unique pieces of furniture and artwork.
One might think they spend a fortune, but, "We are thrift store shoppers. IKEA is our friend," said Jeff, adding that a majority of the work is do-it-yourself.
"Just go for it," he said. "I never knew how to lay a floor, but I laid the entire bamboo floor by watching TV shows or internet videos. We say let's try it and sometimes it doesn't work and you have to redo it, but don't be afraid to try."
Upstairs are two second-floor bathrooms, one for each bedroom, and Dimitrius's favorite: the home theater room. He said, "I love watching movies. I'm transported" in the space that seats 14 people, features a 3-D projector and a 13-foot wide screen.
The color scheme varies throughout the house with different shades of brown, black and white, and gray – all accented with Tiffany blue, as blue is their favorite color.
"Jeff is more modern and edgy. I am more 'blingy' and 'queeny' and girly, but he tones me down. The yin to my yang. We complement each other," said Dimitrius.
The third floor aerie functions as a lounge area and greenhouse – where their tropical plants are stored during the colder months. "They remind us of vacation," said Jeff.
Following a trip to Holland a few years ago, the couple had a "fabulous" experience at a bed and breakfast. Considering all the attention their Hamtramck home receives, it made sense to the Mitchells to welcome guests into their space through Airbnb. Their "luxury home with a modern twist" can be found on the peer-to-peer online community marketplace which connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations.
Having company is perfect for the couple that enjoys entertaining, which makes the "party deck" on the third floor the perfect spot for their outdoor dining room where guests can indulge in Jeff's cooking, his other passion.
"We cook a lot and we try to take turns, but Jeff cooks so well," emphasizes Dimitrius.
Each floor is complete with an outdoor deck. Jeff's favorite spot is the rooftop deck where he takes advantage of peaceful treetop skyline views.
"We get together with maybe around three couples for manageable and intimate parties and movie nights. For larger parties, different groups of people hang out on different floors," said Jeff, adding that keeping the house clean can be a challenge. "It's three floors of fun. We are always running around with a vacuum and duster."
The Hamtramck community has welcomed the Mitchells, including their "great neighbors" who enjoy a little friendly competition with saws and power tools from time to time. The couple has settled in and plans to say for a while.
When asked what's next on their list of things to do, Jeff said, "Overall, we're really happy."
"We are?" said Dimitrius, who has plans to install a second sink in the master bathroom, maybe add a gazebo next year and fill it up with roses. He might even increase the size of their outdoor pond where beautiful Koi live. He said, "There's always something."