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Sfumato transforms garden-level digs into a chic sensory experience

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Now with fragrant cocktails

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Late last year, the husband and wife team of Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson opened their flagship fragrance shop Sfumato in the garden level of an 1880s Midtown mansion. On March 21, they plan to open a craft cocktail bar, Castalia, to complete the transformation.

Curbed stopped by to check out the space, complete with molecule-inspired lighting by Lead Head Glass.

The mansion sits at the corner of Second Avenue and Alexandrine Street in Midtown. The house itself has been home to an art school, a church, and a boarding house, and has been used as a single-family home. Property owner Mark Beard says that the underground location was a dentist office in the 1920s and a real estate office in ’50s. It had been blocked off for years, although many visitors today ask if the space has always been here.

Peterson and Larson had been talking with Beard about the space for a couple years. They received a Motor City Match grant last spring, and they also received funding from the Detroit Development Fund. They started digging up the patio and flooring last May, with build-out finishing up in the fall. At one point, they even had a mini-excavator in the space.

Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard visited before buildout started. You’ll notice a foundation rock coming out of the wall that’s still part of the space.

Larson says the underground location doesn’t have many windows, but that makes it a good space for “sensory amplification.” The cozy 650-square-foot location has a custom bar, mahogany cabinetry, and furniture designed by Paul Karas of Ware Mfg. Tables can be moved around depending on the amount of people in the space and the need for seating. A terraced area outside will also allow for outdoor seating in warmer weather.

Sfumato Fragrances uses only natural, plant-based ingredients in their products, which are also sold online and through independent retailers. The shop itself also carries essential oils, incense, and books. Sfumato is open Wednesday-Sunday from 12-6 p.m. Castalia opens March 21. Here’s a look inside.