Flashy Detroit House Draws Shots: 'Stunning,' 'Crazy Mess,' 'I Would Be Ashamed'

March 17, 2018, 9:04 PM by  Alan Stamm

No matter what real jobs we do, many of us feel qualified as unofficial interior decorators. Not necessarily qualified to turn bare rooms into appealing spaces, but with enough taste to distinguish stylish from style-less.

That same confidence is why everyone is a film reviewer, art critic or editor -- we're sure we can tell quality from crap.

And this time, on the hot-buzz topic of a Detroit home for sale, even critics without design credentials make undeniable points. Photos of Ronald M. Nassar's, ahem, showplace at 450 E. Grixdale Ave. stir online snipe-fests that make political talk shows seem tame. (Well, almost.)

"Wow! Some people have absolutely no taste at all," posts Curbed Detroit reader Keith Charbonneau. "In what world is this even possible?" asks Scott Bartshe of Beverly Hills. On Facebook, Susan Stack of Lake Orion dubs it "Graceland North" and Andrea Cartwright of West Bloomfield describes a "Phyllis Diller's whorehouse vibe."

The name Liberace also surfaces in more than a few reactions at the Freep, Reddit, Facebook and Curbed. Seven photos below suggest why.

The seller is a 67-year-old retired industrial designer who grew up in the home across Woodward Avenue from Palmer Park. His parents bought it in 1959 and he returned after their deaths, writes Judy Rose of the Detroit Free Press. Nassar and a friend, Scott Pipes, worked for the past 20 years to get the look just-so.

Rose describes highlights, if that's the right word:

The dining room is upholstered with simulated white mink, plus gold friezes of cherubs “to feel you’re dining with angels,” in the owner's words.

The living room holds enough pure white, silver and mirrored glass to decorate two rooms in Liberace’s mansion. “A luxurious jewel box,” the owner said.

You could count the statuary five times and get a different result each time — 60 statues? 70? 80? . . .

The lower level has been set up as a cabaret with a bar and a small lighted stage and a figure of Elvis.

The posh property lists for $550,000 with all its contents, including a custom-built Caddy from 1966 and a vintage Lincoln Mark IV that's also one of a kind.

The 1,886-square-foot home in the Grixdale Farms area has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and two half-baths. Nassar is so fussy that his listing at Real Estate One says: "Only shown on sunny days."

Alex Lauer, the listing agent, posts 50 photos (!) and begins his description this way: "Unique barely begins to describe this one of a kind Grixdale Farms estate." The style shows "mind-blowng decorative flair," claims the Realtor. 

Curbed Detroit editor Robin Runyan, clearly a kind and gentle soul, simply calls it "eccentric." At her site, she posts 39 of photos of the must-see property. On Facebook, her article link says: "We've never seen anything like this." Again, so restrained -- particularly for a journalist.

Some of her readers are less polite:

  • Graceland North. -- Susan Stack, Lake Orion
  • It’s the most wonderfully audaciously, horribly beautiful thing! -- Laurie Gebert, Detroit
  • Proving that money can't buy taste! Yikes! -- Shannon McGlothlen
  • Not exactly my taste, but I feel nothing but admiration for the person/people behind this situation. Do you, Detroit Liberace! -- Rebecca Banks, Detroit
  • This house is so weird. Weirdest house of 2018, calling it.
  • Interesting and creepy.
  • Place looks like he robbed Liberace.
  • The patterned shag carpet on the stairs to the basement is pretty stunning.
  • Looks like a salvage yard painted white! -- Graham Knight
  • It looks like a confusing mix of Liberace, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and a consignment shop. -- Julie Maxwell
  • Why would your carpet the ceiling? -- Tim Knoop 
  • I feel overwhelmed by the clutter and glitz. -- Jacy Ann
  • It hurts the eyes and I want to know who dusts all that stuff! -- Gail Johnson
  • This place is a crazy mess. -- Brenda Mearnic, former Livonia resident now in Arizona 

Back at the Free Press, these are among a handful of comments on Rose's article Saturday:

  • Liberace called. He wants his house back. -- Michelle L. Plumb, Monroe
  • This house is for the pimp who doesn't believe in flamboyance. My first impression was a house decorated by the aliens from "2001 A Space Odyssey" after they took some LSD, read "Alice in Wonderland" and then watched "The Brady Bunch." -- Chris Evangelista, South Lyon
  • To each their own, but I would be ashamed. -- Mary Therese Lemanek, Allen Park

Wags also let loose colorfully in comments on a local Reddit thread linked to the extensively illustrated listing:

  • Reminds of the The Korova Milk Bar in "A Clockwork Orange."
  • 98.9% chance this place is haunted.
  • I'm guessing it's haunted by a shitty decorator.
  • Those windows are unsettling. How am I supposed to jump out of them when the ghosts attack?
  • It's tacky as hell, but immaculately well taken care of.
  • The crocheted ceiling got me. Wow.
  • Almost threw up in my mouth.
  • I actually did.

And on a couple of Facebook threads:

  • I can't believe they didn't paint the inside of that piano. -- Joshua Van Berkum
  • Most of this can be removed, but carpeting on the ceiling? Jeez. -- Pat Stoj, Dearboirn
  • Going for that Dr Zhivago "frozen palace in Varykino" look. -- Larry Kutchen
  • A little too "busy" for me. -- Marc Wigle, Detroit
  • Is this what heaven looks like? -- Brian J. Renaud
  • The horror . . . -- Jim Lewison
  • Which mobster owned this house? I have to know. . . . There is literally not a single tacky roadside art novelty that isn't in that house. -- Jason Togyer​ (from two posts)
  • These random Big Lots circa 1999 maître de tchotkes are throwing off the whole "Phyllis Diller's whorehouse" vibe for me. They'd be first to the curb. -- Andrea Cartwright
Photos from Real Estate One







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