Photos by Scott Amundson
Was it meeting in the elevator? Fate? Karma? Whatever brought these two neighbors together reads like a Hallmark movie plotline. Their adjacent downtown condo units were older although adequate for single life. His two-story was a bit newer, with grand views of the downtown skyline and river, plus a big terrace for entertaining. Hers abutted his unit kitchen-to-kitchen, with a comfortable patio and views down the river.
When their lives came together it was natural that their homes would, too. The goal was to merge their spaces, like their lives, into one. At first glance, Steve Kleineman of SKD Architects knew what was needed. The sightlines from 23 stories up would become panoramic, and the spaces could be perfectly aligned. The design took off.
Once the common wall was removed, the new views were nothing short of amazing. The redesigned living spaces are now open, contemporary, and with the main focus on the panoramic vista of the downtown skyline and Mississippi River.
In condos, square inches are precious, so every space has been designed to consider convenience and comfort. For example, while overlooking the river, you can sit and grab a drink at the wet bar between the dining area and patio, then relax in the sun on your private terrace. Later, catch up on household finances at your workspace off the kitchen and set the game table for your weekly bridge game.
But the upstairs was ideal for the new, perfectly private owners’ suite. The light-filled bedroom boasts a cozy sitting area and fireplace, while a separate exercise room, spacious walk-in closet, and second laundry complete their beautiful retreat. An additional two bedrooms with baths and laundry were located in their own wing opposite the living areas to graciously welcome guests.
In areas away from the windows, lighting needed to be addressed. “Everything there felt dark,” Kleineman says. “We focused the lighting to draw your eye, creating drama and interest in addition to opening up the floor plan to quality views from every active part of the house.”
“We kept ceiling heights as high as we could, often using indirect lighting to visually emphasize that height,” Kleineman adds. “We also used soffits to define spaces. It forced us to be very deliberate running duct work and sprinkler piping.”
“Walls, cabinetry, and lighting were treated as compositions of art,” he continues. “Each wall was addressed. Walls, niches, and floating shelves were created to place art. Careful thought went into the placement of functions and features, like an awesome 7-foot linear fireplace, TV wal,l and furnishings to capture great views from every angle of the opened-up space.”
Accent walls, richly finished wood walls, plus beautiful coffered ceiling details further distinguish the living spaces while using the extra ceiling depth for recessed lighting. From the round dining area to the kitchen and great room, the open layout redefines the main living space, while the lighting, repeating patterns, fine craftsmanship, and cool contemporary palette all work in harmony.
This truly is urban living at its finest.