LIVING LARGE ON A SMALL SCALE
Story by Manning Lee / Photography by Gwin Hunt
Mary-Beth and Bruce Phillips dreamed of simplifying their lives and leaving it all behind.
Unlike most of us, they turned this fantasy into reality.
They sold everything, including their seven-bedroom Victorian home in Westfield, New Jersey, and moved into a 1,400 square foot, two-bedroom condo overlooking Annapolis Harbor. “We sold all of our antiques, furniture, and treasures gathered over our lifetime and moved to Annapolis with only our two chairs and our crystal,” says Mary-Beth. The two-story loft condominium was just right for downsizing. However, its floor plan was slightly outdated, with the feel of the 1960s, and in need of revival.
With an eye for design and a charismatic energy, Mary-Beth, a floral designer by trade, dove into the project. For help, she turned to a team of professionals: Cathy Purple Cherry, Principal of Purple Cherry Architects, Katalin Farnady of Farnady Interiors, and Andy Apter of Apter Remodeling/Craftsman. Purple Cherry felt limited by the width of the condominium. The height of the two-story loft and the original, outdated winding staircase made the space uncomfortable. Her solution was to enclose the loft and redesign the staircase, creating an even flow of open space downstairs and maximizing the condominium’s overall floor area.
Upstairs, Purple Cherry divided the space in two by creating a floating wall. On one side of the wall is the bedroom, and on the other side an office. The floating wall brings the bed forward and closer to the window. The move ensures glorious views and that Mary-Beth and Bruce wake up to the ever-changing scenes of the harbor. The sleeping area is compact, but the space is designed cleverly for both efficiency and ease. The built-in shelves on either side of the bed, the lighting by Tolomeo, and the pullout bedside drawers are smart and practical. On the wall is an unexpected splash of color by Barbara Becker.
On the other side of the wall is a just enough space for a condensed yet fully functioning office. Farnady and Mary-Beth chose sectional desks by Ballard and Storheim, with chairs covered in a durable pear fabric. The Schumacher pear checkered ottoman is the finishing touch, adding a whimsical twist and final polish to the room.
Farnady explains, “What I appreciate about working with smaller spaces is the necessity and the ability to pay close attention to the detail.” Nowhere is attention to detail more apparent than in the charming yellow and black guest suite. The built-in dresser and floor to ceiling window treatments create the illusion of space. The bold movement in the wallpaper by Maija Louekari for Marimekko coupled with the pattern in the carpet introduce drama, heightened by the room’s intimate dimensions.
Once in a while throughout the design’s six-month process, Mary-Beth’s charisma and Farnady’s desire to think outside of the box created a dissonant harmony. They light-heartedly agree that there was a pushing of the envelope between the two of them. They also agree that their tension proved productive and propelled the project to the next level.
The living room is sophisticated, almost seamless, and comes together with the feel of a fine Chanel black patent leather handbag. One’s eye is quickly drawn to the balcony that overlooks the harbor and then captured by stairs built by builder Andy Apter. The stairs and sculptural railing by Frog Valley Forge elegantly frames the room, setting the stage for a warm, but classic modern drama. Continuing the play are highlights composed of contrasting blacks and shades of yellows. The curtains by Sew Beautiful are sewn with golden silk threads that seem to bounce light from the harbor throughout the room. Though space is a commodity, with the creativity of Katalin Farnady, Cathy Purple Cherry, Andy Apter and other professionals, the home has been reborn. Every cubic inch of the condominium’s floor space flows very comfortably. It proves quite unexpectedly that one can live large on a small scale.