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A dinning room in Detroit, MI featuring modern interior design and a reclaimed white oak table designed by Woodward Throwbacks.


Project Type: Residential Design, Full-service Interior Design
Location: Detroit, Michigan

This is an interior design project, but it’s also a story about a neglected house worth saving. While thousands of houses are demolished every year in Detroit, some of these structures are truly worth the blood, sweat and tears it takes to restore them. And this isn’t just our philosophy at Woodward Throwbacks. In 2022, Detroit rehabbed more homes than it demolished. Talk about a comeback!

This project will show you what a total reclamation can look like–designed and built by Woodward Throwbacks. Enter the #WTPhillyHouse, one of our original interior design projects that’s a whole-home renovation.

We first came to the house on Philadelphia Street as a potential material salvage project before the structure was slated to be leveled. But once we looked past the fire-damaged walls to the awe-inspiring architecture, we knew the house was worth fighting for. We worked with The Detroit Land Bank Authority to purchase the house with our sights on a complete home renovation.

Click here to see before and after photos of the Philly House renovation.

Image of bathroom interior design, featuring a modern vanity designed by Woodward Throwbacks out of reclaimed parquet flooring.
Modern interior design for kitchen, featuring reclaimedkitchen counters custom-built out of salvaged heat-resistant phonetic resin science lab tables.

Our first goal for the Philly House was to modernize the interior architecture and interior design while keeping the original story and character by incorporating reclaimed materials. We adjusted the house’s layout to fit our 21st century lifestyle, including adding a bathroom on the first floor. We also doubled the kitchen’s size by removing one wall and pushing another wall back, creating a communal space that opened up to a dining area with sightlines to the living room.

The design intent for the Philly House was to incorporate reclaimed materials in a novel way. We reused salvaged materials from the house itself, including the basement metal support columns as a table base, retired basketball court flooring for a living room end table and bedroom flooring, and the lath board for a credenza.

Kitchen table made from reclaimed oak and metal support columns, custom designed by Woodward Throwbacks.
Reclaimed metal support columns used as table legs in a modern table design by Woordward Throwbacks.
Modern living room area featuring reclaimed fireplace mantel and parquet flooring coffee table. Interior design by Woodward Throwbacks.
Rustic end table created from reclaimed wood flooring, designed by Woodward Throwbacks.

We poured our all into the kitchen update–undoubtedly the most important room of any home. Warm wood tones are balanced with cool emerald greens and black and gold accents to create a modern aesthetic using as many sustainable materials as we could muster. The banquette millwork was constructed from salvaged church pews and reclaimed white oak timbers. We used these same materials to design our very own half-moon kitchen island. The countertops were created using salvaged science lab tabletops from Marygrove College, made out of a durable, heat resistant phonetic resin that has the look and finish of soapstone.

Modern kitchen interior design, featuring a half-mood kitchen island in white oak from Woodward Throwbacks.
Modern kitchen interior design, featuring cabinet and wall cladding made from reclaimed wood rom Woodward Throwbacks.
Kitchen shelving made from vintage wood scaffolding designed by Woodward Throwbacks.

Another goal was restoring the home’s historic design moments and adding a few of our own. The foyer had architecture detail that turn-of-the-century architecture is famous for: tile entryways and tin ceilings. We completely restored the colorful tile and replaced the tin crown molding to complete the welcome-home experience.

A few of the Philly House’s millwork features were in disrepair. We salvaged some key structures from a few historic houses in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, including the first floor staircase and the beveled glass fireplace mantel. One of our favorite modern additions to the house was a spiral staircase, gifted to us by a Boston Edison neighbor. It was painted a deep green and installed as a connector to the second and third floors.

Salvaged tin crown molding restored and installed in the foyer ceiling.
Modern living room area featuring reclaimed fireplace mantel and parquet flooring coffee table. Interior design by Woodward Throwbacks.
Foyer tile, restored by Woodward Throwbacks.
Salvaged staircase from an 1800’s row house in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan.
Fully restored bathroom, featuring floor-to-ceiling tiled shower, reclaimed his-and-her sinks, and refurbished floors by Woodward Throwbacks.
Vintage spiral staircase from the Boston Edison neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan.
Bedrooms interior design featuring an army green Industrial Multi-Drawer Dresser by Woodward Throwbacks.

The Philly House was our most ambitious project to date–one that will stay with us forever. It taught us to trust our instincts, whether we’re saving a house or salvaging a material. When we invest in second chances, we get to create a whole new story.

Work with us on your next interior design project!

We love to partner with people who share our values of sustainability and our love for modern design. Drop us a line if you’d like to work with us on your next home projects or commercial built-out. We can help make your space one of a kind.



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