Some Central Ohio homeowners are embracing cutting-edge design without sacrificing warmth.
Photo by Ryan Young
Modern design doesn’t have to be cold. It can be classy and comfortable, with splashes of color—and personality.
That was interior designer Debra Winterick’s goal for a complete condo makeover in Dublin last year when the homeowner’s cutting-edge taste pushed her a bit outside of her comfort zone.
“He originally told me he wanted something not traditional, but more like transitional,” Winterick says. “Then everything he showed me was ultra-modern.”
From the subtly patterned cloth drapes and soft leather furniture in various hues on the main floor to the color-filled blocks of modern art and greenery scattered throughout the home, Winterick gave the space a clean, sleek look without making it feel cold.
“I don’t like minimalism,” she says. “I don’t think it has any warmth. I like accessories. I like art. I like things on the table that reflect the people who live there. You can do that with contemporary design.”
Winterick added warmth, texture and muted color to the living room by stoning in the fireplace with cut slate. Replacing the dated spindles along the stairway with stainless steel cables could have created a chilling effect, but Winterick softened the look by topping them with a dark wooden handrail that complements the distressed, wide-plank flooring below.
“Of all of it, I think that made the biggest impact in the place,” Winterick says of the railings. “It just set the tone for everything.”
The condo overhaul also involved gutting the master bath and rebuilding it to open up the layout; replacing a wall between the kitchen and family room with a hand-cut, curved glass counter; upgrading the tall, painted wood kitchen cabinets with horizontal aluminum-framed glass-front storage that flips up to open; and installing new lighting, rugs and hardware throughout.
The rebuild took about three months, beginning in August 2012, during which time the homeowner moved out and let the professionals do their jobs.
“It was a challenge with him being absent,” Winterick says, noting she shipped large boards of coordinating fabric samples and furniture renderings to the homeowner for guidance along the way. “I couldn’t just say, ‘Come look at this; come sit on this.’ It was challenging for me, but I enjoyed it.”
“He gave us a lot of freedom,” says Hanno Schickram, owner of Structure & Space Ltd., who renovated the condo with Winterick. “He didn’t want progress reports or pictures of the work. He said, ‘Just get it done.’ It was a little unnerving at times, but it all came together beautifully. He’s a happy camper.”
RACK ’EM UP
Modern design isn’t only for living areas.
Just ask Keith Sharrock, a design consultant with Dave Fox Design Build Remodelers, who built a sophisticated, futuristic wine cellar for a northwest Columbus client in 2009.
“No matter what the project, modern design is about expressing this clean look,” Sharrock says. “People don’t think they can do that with wine. They think it has to be an old cellar with oak or wood shelving. In modern design, it doesn’t matter what it’s made out of. If it’s cool-looking, it’s cool-looking.”
Sharrock gleaned the idea for the glass-and-metal wine showroom of sorts from high-end restaurants where wine bottles are easily seen and displayed.
“This guy wanted to be able to see and talk about his wine bottles,” Sharrock says. “Plus, he liked modern design.”
The hardest part in fashioning the space was figuring out how to marry form and function since humidity and glass do not always mix well and proper wine storage requires precise moisture and temperature control.
“I know glass and I know HVAC, which is cooling and humidification,” Sharrock says. “But it still took about a month of researching the dew point of moisture so I knew we wouldn’t have drips of water on the glass.”
Next came the search for metal wine racks, which Sharrock thought would add an element of interest to the room while maintaining the modern theme.
“We found none, zero anywhere in the country,” he says. “We looked everyplace. I was fortunate enough to talk to someone in the industry who knew someone in the Virgin Islands that did something like this.”
Then there was the issue of lighting with all that shiny glass and metal filling the room.
“We wanted the lighting behind the bottles,” Sharrock says. “Wine bottles take on different colors because of the different glass, the different wines. It’s a very colorful space because of the backlighting. And the LED lighting eliminates the UV rays that can damage the wine—and it doesn’t get hot, so you don’t have to worry about temperature changes.”
The result earned Sharrock and his crew a “Wow!” from the client.
“Now he can talk about the wines without entering the space and disturbing the environment,” Sharrock says. “It was definitely, definitely what he wanted.”
LET THE SUNSHINE IN
Connie Klema doesn’t like the “cold, almost forced” look of some modern homes. So when the local developer and attorney began working with the architectural team of Frank Elmer and Ruth Gless in 2008 to design an uber-modern spec home in Italian Village, she wanted warmth built into it.
“Not until it was built did I realize how brilliant they were in their design,” Klema says of the red brick and gray block three story that overlooks Interstate 670. “They allowed the modern look, but it’s tempered with this softness and this strength.”
Owner John Galvin had been looking for something modern, unique and located in the Downtown area for five-plus years with little luck.
It was important to him to have a home that balanced both interior and exterior spaces for work, family and entertaining guests and be close to all the amenities in the Short North and Arena District.
“Being a creative professional, I wanted a balance of urban contemporary with simple and efficient materials, Galvin say. “You see samples of this type of design in Dwell magazine but rarely in Columbus, Ohio. I think the vision that Connie, Frank, Ruth and their team pulled together reflects exactly what I was looking for.”
The 1,500-square-foot home, completed in September 2012, includes floor-to-ceiling windows on the front and door-sized windows that open inward on the rear, allowing for lots of natural light and fresh air.
“The windows, I think, are elegant,” Klema says. “Instead of something cold like vinyl or metal, they have beautiful wood trim.”
Ditto for the oak flooring on the metal cabled stairway that climbs one entire side of the home—all the way to the rooftop patio.
“The fact that we didn’t go with metal steps was a decision I made,” Klema says. “And it changed the whole look of it, style of it, feel of it. I wanted a warm, sort of a Dutch-architecture-type look so it’s not so industrial. It’s actually a home.”
Even little touches like the leather-finished dark granite countertop in the kitchen, the light caramel walls and the gas fireplace tucked into a cubby in the living room add a comfortable feel. The metal accents also have a warm tint and the light fixtures sport frosted glass to avoid a glaring look.
This is the smallest of the three single-family homes Klema plans to build in a row on East Russell Street. Each will look identical from the front, she says, but the others will have two-bedroom layouts and more square footage due to the extra depth of the lots.
“This project has brought more response than anything I’ve done in my life,” says Klema, who has been developing real estate since 1983. “It was on the [Short North Tour of Homes and Gardens] this fall and everybody was just in awe. They loved the design. They loved the windows. It’s just very unique.”
Nancy Byron is a freelance writer, editor and publicity consultant in Dublin.