The Wright Move

A Downtown Condo is Transformed Into a Weekend Retreat

By Nancy Miller  |  Photography by Erik Branch

Brent and Jerrica Wright are philosophical about interior design. “I hope the interior of our home conveys that we are willing to move outside our comfort zone and to challenge our personal limits,” says Brent about the Waterfront Park Place condo that is their weekend home.

The Wrights and their three children live in Glasgow, Kentucky, where Brent is a physician. They chose downtown for their city retreat because they were drawn to the area’s energy and the proximity to cultural events and myriad restaurants. 

A magnificent view of the river was a selling point of the condo, but the poorly designed existing space didn’t function well for the family, and the drab beige background didn’t express the Wrights’ exuberant personalities. A major facelift was mandatory in order for the family to love their home.

“When we have built a house or have become involved in a design process in the past, we exerted a lot of control, but this time we realized we didn’t have the depth of expertise for such an extensive project,” admits Brent.

Barry Wooley Designs repeatedly surfaced when they searched online for interior designers. Since the Wrights had frequently passed the company’s showroom on Main Street, calling for a design consultation seemed to be a “meant-to-happen” next step.

The Wrights joined Barry Wooley for what he calls an “inspiration meeting” during which he queried the couple about their design aspirations and how they intended to use the space.

Barry asked them to fill out a lifestyle profile, an exercise he requests of all clients. It allowed Jerrica and Brent to elaborate on their preferences in color, shopping habits, leisure activities, even their favorite movies. “Filling out the questionnaire was revealing for both of us. We discovered new things about ourselves once we were putting our thoughts on paper,” she says.

The designer and his team then led the Wrights on an exploration of design possibilities and presented storyboards for a home that reflects highly individualized urban sophistication.

“We wanted the condo to be modern, completely unlike our house in Glasgow, yet warm and kid friendly. When we come to Louisville for the weekend we need to be ‘ready, set, live.’ Barry understood that and he perfectly gauged our personalities and tastes,” says Brent.

The three agreed that stylish functionality would become the cornerstone of the design and that the magnificent view of the river would be a focal point. “I think of the view, which is framed by the bridges, as an art installation because the movement of the river and vehicles is always changing. The view is mesmerizing. When I look out the windows, I feel like my blood pressure drops 10 to 20 points,” he adds.

The Wrights don’t always share the same tastes in décor. She leans toward traditional while he favors contemporary or modern. But they’re good at compromising and meeting in the middle. The melding of tastes is beautifully evident in the condo.

“Jerrica and Brent are so engaging and totally light up their surroundings. I was thrilled to be able to create an environment that reflected who they are and that expressed their innate style,” says Barry. “To do that, Jacqui Smith and Sara Osborne, designers at Barry Wooley Designs, worked with me to develop a neutral palette that interspersed accents of color. Another facet of our design was to choose furniture and accessories that speak to contemporary design  and at the same time bring in a friendly coziness.” BW craftsmen and the firm’s tech team were integral to executing the designers’ vision of a home that displays the finest workmanship and state-of-the-art technology.

Jerrica and Brent had purchased their condo fully furnished but liked very few of the pieces. With an experienced eye for what could be, not necessarily what is, Barry convinced them that some of the furniture could be repurposed and brought to new life. The condo’s redesign also encompassed new furniture, light fixtures and accessories.

Tackling the minimal amount of storage was a formidable challenge that demanded a great deal of ingenuity. Barry addressed the dilemma by adding built-in cabinetry and selecting furniture that served dual roles of storage and design elements.    

“The foyer was the first place I created drama,” he says. After dropping the ceiling to hide mechanicals, he covered it in matte black ceiling tiles. Upholstering the walls in charcoal gray diamond pattern leather panels established a seductive welcome. A German silver machine-tooled chest, large mirror and chain link sconces add just the right touch of glitz.

“Because of the expansive windows, the condo has minimal wall space, so mirrors, art, everything we put on the walls had to be carefully edited for maximum impact,” says Barry. “And every room had to make a bold statement. What’s so interesting about design is that a bold statement can often be delivered by subtle technique.”

The Wrights’ love of color is on display in pillows, lamps, rugs and artwork throughout the home. The designer is adamant that layering different hues of a color provides intrigue. Take a look at nature, he advises. A landscape of trees is interesting because of the varying shades of green. He carries out that same natural approach by mixing hues of the same color in textiles, wallcoverings and art.

“In great design, color and texture work together,” says Barry. “To illustrate that, I used cream color leather club chairs with metallic blue pillows, a green animal print leather ottoman, a blue and green rug and a machine-forged metal accent table, all of which married in harmony,” says the designer, referring to the sitting area off the foyer.

He repeated the magic combination of color and texture in the living room where two mohair sofas accented with silver, gray, yellow, pink and purple pillows are flanked by silver leaf mirrored end tables. A sculptured wood coffee table adds organic texture and is juxtaposed with a luxuriously soft gray and white rug. “The space encourages you to touch every surface,” he says.   

A collection of airplanes references the Wrights’ fondness for Thunder Over Louisville, for which they have a front row seat, and several drums that are a fun reminder of Brent’s hobby.

Adjacent to the living room is a corner dining room with a wood and chrome base glass table and a starburst light fixture. The open floor plan is ideal for entertaining. “We recently hosted a party for thirty people. It worked out wonderfully. There was great flow between the living room, dining room and kitchen, and no one felt at all crowded,” says Jerrica.

Her husband agrees: “The floor plan gives us so much open space but still has pockets of privacy that keep everyone happy. We like to be close but also like to be able to spread out a little.”

Barry and the homeowners aren’t afraid of a splash of dazzle, as can be seen in the powder room. The black wallpaper tricks the eye with what appears to be rhinestone salamanders although the surface is flat, not raised. 

“Contrary to what many people believe, a dark color does not make a room seem smaller as long as there are contrasting surfaces,” says Barry. He proves that in the master bedroom where a navy blue velvet custom upholstered winged headboard is placed against a navy wall. Contrast comes into play with white and cream linens and mirrored nightstands highlighted with brass trim. A showstopping vintage acrylic ribbon art décor hangs above the bed.

The spa-like master bath, with travertine-topped maple cabinetry, is glammed up with metallic waterfall tile. Ever the detail-oriented designer, Barry accessorized the room with towels that have a design that mimics the tile.

“I really hesitated about Barry’s ideas of a bunk bed in the room that’s shared by two of the children. But, once I saw it, I knew it was exactly what was needed,” says Jerrica. The kids feel the same way about the room that’s designed to be a living area with the sleeping accommodations at the top. On the wall are sconces that resemble the lighting in a yacht. Electronics are hidden in a floating white lacquer cabinet. It’s not a room for which a parent’s saying “Go to your room” would ever be a punishment.

“Our oldest son loves his own bedroom nook with its upholstered walls. It’s where he feels like he’s hiding,” she says about the area where Barry exhibited masterful space planning. Curtains can be pulled to separate the bed from a desk and a seating area that’s outfitted with a gray linen convertible sofa. The space’s orange and gray color scheme is complemented by fiber art by noted Louisville artist Mary Craik.

“When asked what is my favorite part of our condo, I struggle to answer. I love everything about it. It’s the perfect weekend home for our family. What makes it extra special is that while working so closely with Barry, he became part of the family,” says Jerrica.