Rooms With A View

Contributing Writer

Before an interior design project begins, the designer usually asks the homeowners what they want.

Sometimes the answers are long autobiographical sketches about family history, tradition and taste, or what they read about in a decorating magazine.

When Tassels designer Crystal Newton asked her client, Ruth Brinkley, what she wanted for her new condominium unit at Waterfront Park Place, the answer couldn’t have been shorter or more concise.


That can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but Newton took much of her inspiration from the lines of the apartment itself, built seven years ago with straight lines and right angles – especially the unit’s most dramatic architectural element, the large, tall and gridded windows that look out on the Ohio River and Indiana beyond.

In an open floor plan like this, sight lines can mean everything. So Newton arranged two large pieces of furniture – a granite-topped kitchen island, rounded off into almost a kidney shape, and a long, rectangular dark wood dining table with a shiny chrome table base – so they line up in a straight line with the window view.

So as you enter the unit from the front door, your eyes are drawn right through the room to a vase of red roses just in front of the window.

“Red is a perfect accent color because it is so eye-catching,” Newton says. “There’s a danger of overusing it because it can be overpowering. But in pops of color here and there – pillows, accents or an array of flowers – it’s always bright and interesting.”

The overall wall palette is a very neutral light gray shade called Cumulous Cloud. Newton then used a lot of contrasting tones, playing with color and texture to soften all the angularity. A gray subway tile backsplash contrasts with the dark cabinetry. And three black bar stools at the island have geometric bases the shape of three interlocking gyroscope circles.

The dark dining room table has a shiny chrome table base and the upholstered chairs a gray and cream zig-zag pattern. Below the table is a dramatic statement rug, pulling in all the blacks, grays and browns in the room. And against the wall is a very modern wood buffet with burrowed wood insets and shiny nickel handles. An Art Deco mirror hangs on the wall.

Two cream woven chenille club chairs by the window, with a subtle herringbone pattern, swivel so Brinkley can face inward when having guests or outward just to look at the view. A mirrored side table with dramatic circles is set there, part of the modern geometric aspects of the space.

On the floor is a cowhide rug glazed with shimmering gray paint.

The large open living room is a play on textures and shapes. Neutral furniture is made visually interesting by an assortment of pillows in different shades of red. A simple bookshelf against the wall is balanced by a custom-built floating TV stand and leather, saddle-shaped benches with shiny chrome nailheads.

A long hallway leading to the bedroom ends in a mirrored wall and a metal table with a sculptured Atlas-holding-up-the-world base.

In the bedroom, Newton reupholstered Brinkley’s headboard with a faux textured leather and built a custom desk for the corner of the room to serve as Brinkley’s mini-office “because she works so much at home, and there was just no room for a separate office,” the designer said. It’s a quartz top built around a corner column so that it faces the two corner windows and Brinkley can enjoy the view as she works. The column was wrapped with a faux finish that mimics the bed linen.

One of the pieces Newton inherited was a large painting of The Three Graces on the wall. “She had grown attached to it, so we had to work around it,” Newton says, “but it ended up adding a whole new dynamic. And it proves the point that when you have a basically neutral color palette, almost anything can work with it.”

A remote-controlled electronic shade along the wall of windows can be raised, lowered or partly raised, or raised in sections, so the homeowner can enjoy all aspects of her phenomenal fifth-floor view.

It must be one of the reasons why she says, “I love coming home and spending time here. It’s so relaxing.”

Cabinetry provided by Barber Cabinets rugs provided by Anabel’s Oriental Rugs.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune