Downtown Living Room

These longtime clients of mine felt it was time to move from the suburbs and into the city, as they spent most of their socializing time in this downtown area.

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Designer Credits: Suzan Wemlinger

Project Overview:

Recent empty-nesters, they were excited about this big change. They asked me to come and look at the condo before they purchased it and get my thoughts on what it needed.

Downtown Living Room

After discussing the look, atmosphere and vibe they wanted, we determined that our operative word for the condo was “cosmopolitan”. This condo, with its million dollar view of one of the great lakes, definitely did not have a cosmopolitan feel. It looked like it belonged in the suburbs – a very attractive, well-built space, but an over abundance of cherry wood and traditional elements were ill-placed in this luxury condo.The kitchen, living and dining rooms were all one large space, so it was important that they flow well. The fireplace looked like it belonged in the north woods – heavy and overpowering. Light maple floors kept the condo further away from the uptown look we wanted.

We carried the marble from the kitchen into the living room, and used it around the fireplace and for the floating hearth. The TV that was going to go above the fireplace was going to be set on a bracket that would extend the TV out, then bring it down for better viewing, so a double recess needed to be built above the mantel. This was an engineering nightmare, in part because with a condo, certain things (like ducts) had very little room to be moved. I also took the same Ann Sacks tile that was used in the kitchen, and used it (rectangular version) in the recessed TV niche. A desk is built in to the left of the fireplace, and a wet bar is on the right. The mantel is a custom piece: it’s concrete, designed to look like a wood beam, perfect when heat resistance is needed. New 5″ plank floors were installed and stained a dark black-brown chocolate.

Two cream sofas face each other and flank the fireplace, with two swivel chairs facing the fireplace. This makes for a great U-shaped conversation area. The space is grounded with an antique rug, which was shaved, distressed and washed to give it its unique patina. An acrylic coffee table allows the rug to be the focal point while giving everyone a place to put their drinks. I kept a very neutral, monochromatic look, with some pops of blush pink, and a fun animal print fabric that is carried in from a bench in the entryway. There is very little wall space, and I felt art on the wall overlooking the lake would take away from the view.