A pre-war condo renovated to reflect the original architecture
By Sarah Levitch
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
Make new renovations, but keep the old; one is silver, and the other is gold. When renovations began on this beautiful duplex condo back in March, the homeowner envisioned a timeless space with a delicate balance of modern and classic. Located in a pre-war building, a previous owner broke through the wall of the tenth floor, constructing a duplex apartment connecting the tenth and eleventh floor. As it was, this penthouse abode’s interior was a bit outdated and unfitting to the building’s architecture, including an Art Deco style staircase. This provided the current homeowner with an opportunity to revive the interior by reflecting the style of the exterior.
The homeowner remarked, “Buildings kind of talk to me whenever I look at them. This building feels like an apartment building that you’d find in Central Park because it’s a classical, pre-war building. I wanted to update the space with modern conveniences while respecting the period and the architecture that’s unique to the building. There’s always a balance between making a vintage building liveable with modern conveniences while still respecting the integrity of the exterior and interior architecture of the building.”
The biggest changes the homeowner made were an update to the kitchen, three bathrooms and the staircase. “For the kitchen, I had custom cabinetry made that is white with marble countertops and backsplashes. I modernized the kitchen by breaking through the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room. I did a very traditional black and white stone floor because a lot of those pre-war buildings naturally have the stone kitchen floors,” said the homeowner. Two of the bathrooms kept their original tile, with new vanities and countertops, but the master got a full makeover. The homeowner also reconfigured the staircase, putting in a new railing more appropriate to the building’s style.
Situated high up in the corner of the building, the condo’s main living space presents a breathtaking, panoramic view of downtown Louisville, Cherokee Park, across the river to Floyd Knobs, IN and all the way to Ruth’s Chris Steak House on Hurstbourne. A sure way to impress guests, the homeowner noted that visitors have also commented on how peaceful the condo feels as a result of what the homeowner described as the neutral “envelope.” “All of the walls, trim, ceiling and cabinetry are in an off white color. For me, that’s the envelope. The artwork, decor and wallpaper are really what add the feeling you want the space to have. I decided to use more wallpaper that is somewhat colorful and has patterns. I typically do an incredibly neutral palette without color, but for some reason, it spoke to me that this was an appropriate space to add some decorative elements,” said the homeowner.
With the beauty and soul of an old building comes challenges, too. For the homeowner, knocking down the kitchen wall made of solid masonry proved to be the major feat. Nevertheless, opening up the space proved worthwhile, with a new sense of peace and hints of the original architecture in the archways and plaster molding.
What’s left is a timeless space with hidden touches of modern life that any admirer of original architecture would appreciate. The homeowner reflected, “I tried to be very mindful of the envelope of the space, so that anything I put in it, somebody wouldn’t say, that person did that in 2020. I think in 30 years, it will look as good and appropriate as it does now. That’s what good design that respects a building’s architecture does. It never feels dated; it always feels relevant.”