It's tricky to decorate a home whose most striking feature is a wall of 12-foot windows overlooking the Scioto. So it's fortunate that Ed McCullom had a clear design vision for the carefully curated Downtown condo he shares with longtime partner Shelley Rubin.
The retired retail investor honed his skills while working with clients on store design, and he's not afraid to mix and match classically designed pieces from different eras. In the dining room, an antique English table is paired with a sideboard from Baker's Stately Homes collection, set off by modern Italian black leather chairs and a contemporary light fixture.
The main living area blends bargains like an Ikea couch and a Pottery Barn end table with mid-century-modern finds, including a pressed rosewood Eames lounge chair, a George Nelson bubble pendant lamp and a Glo-Ball floor lamp from Jasper Morrison.
"Classic pieces are classic pieces forever," Rubin said. "This house could have been here 20 years ago or 20 years in the future, and it will still look great."
When McCullom and Rubin moved into their North Bank Park condo early last year, they were one of the first to occupy the 20-level glass tower.
Now, the city-loving couple can't imagine living anywhere else in Columbus. McCullom and Rubin met in Chicago in the early '80s and lived in Boston during the mid-'90s before moving to Ohio, where Rubin took a job as the vice president of advertising for Big Lots.
In each city, they've always lived downtown. The convenience of urban life can't be beat, they say-here, for example, they're able to walk to the Arena Grand, Short North restaurants and newly constructed Huntington Park baseball stadium.
"This was about as urban as we could get in Columbus," Rubin said. "It's still sparse compared with the neighborhood where we lived in Chicago, but in the three years we've been here, there's been so much change and growth."
Their suburban coworkers often ask how they deal with having no outdoor space, but McCullom and Rubin consider the Scioto River and nearby North Bank Park to be their backyard. Their narrow patio offers the best Red, White & Boom view in town, and also makes a nice Sunday brunch location.
The couple keeps several storage lockers both here and in Boston filled with treasures they've accumulated over the years.
"As we move from place to place, we swap this and that out," Rubin said. "This place, you might have a place for it, and the next one it won't work."
Some of the design elements make the cut from house to house, like the dining room furniture, the dark granite countertops and Ralph Lauren's Urban Stripe wallpaper, used as a kitchen backsplash. The only piece the couple purchased new for this condo is a statement-making leather sectional from Roche-Bobois.
There's a story behind just about everything in their home. An oversized poster advertising Muir Woods in California, occupying the majority of a wall in the couple's office, is something McCullom first spotted in an art shop window. It wasn't for sale, so he called the artist, who explained the poster was part of a series of train station ads celebrating the Golden Gate National Parks.
"He said they were so hot, people were stealing them out of the frames from the train station walls," McCullom said. As it happened, the artist had a couple left.
"A lot of times, you think some of these people are untouchable, but you can just pick up the phone and call," he said.
But their favorite pieces are the ones that hit closest to home. Like the creamy yellow cookie jar shaped like a baker, a family heirloom standing watch in the kitchen. It no longer holds cookies, but it does serve as a constant reminder of Rubin's childhood home.
"There's stuff," Rubin said. "And then there are pieces that mean a lot."