The challenge: Tanya Spaulding and David Shea were ready to refresh their condo in the North Loop. “It was starting to look dated,” said Spaulding. “We’re in the design business [Shea Design] so we’re seeing what’s new and current all the time. It was time to get a clean, fresh update.”
As restaurant design pros, Spaulding and Shea have extensive design expertise, but they still chose to collaborate with an interior designer, Voss, who lives in their building and could contribute residential design experience. “The cool thing about working with them is they knew exactly what they were looking for — clean, modern and simple,” Voss said. “They didn’t want anything fussy or complicated.”
The starting point: The couple’s condo is located in Bookmen Lofts, a true loft-style building that was built in 1914 as a warehouse for a book wholesaler and converted to condos in 2005. “The bones of the space still are great, with factory windows and exposed brick,” said Voss. But the finishes were starting to look tired. Spaulding and Shea, the second owners of their unit, had made some enhancements, including installing engineered wood flooring on top of the original concrete, and updating all the lighting. Now the kitchen and master bath were due for a makeover.
“The kitchen didn’t function well,” said Irmiger, especially for a couple who do a lot of entertaining. And Spaulding and Shea wanted a different look. “We love contemporary,” said Spaulding. “We wanted something that could stand the test of time, with cleaner lines and black-and-white simplicity.”
Working within the footprint: The kitchen was gutted, but the basic layout was not changed. “It’s tricky in a condo,” said Voss. “You don’t want to move the plumbing or mechanicals. There can be disruption to neighboring units. You have to be a bit of a surgeon, rebuilding in the same place.”
Bigger, better island: The original two-tier center island was removed, and a new larger one, all of a single height, was built. The waterfall island is cantilevered at one end to create a table with seating for casual entertaining. It’s topped with black siren granite with white veining in a leather, no-shine finish. That granite was repeated on the countertop and backsplash. Spaulding and Shea wanted the cooktop inset, so that it was flush with the countertop, with knobs for the Wolf range drilled through the stone. “It looks like a cooktop built into granite,” Spaulding said. “In a small space like that, little details make a difference.”
“Designed for their lifestyle”: The configuration of the original cabinets wasn’t ideal for the way Spaulding and Shea like to cook and entertain. “When they moved in, they made their needs work with the space,” said Voss. But the makeover allowed them to create the kind of storage they wanted — new custom cabinets with pullouts and inserts and more refrigerated beverage storage. “They travel a lot, and they eat out a lot,” said Voss. “They don’t do a ton of cooking at home, but they do have friends over for wine and snacks. It was designed for their lifestyle.”
Flooring fix: The new white cabinets contrast with the dark oak flooring, which is stained a warm coffee brown. “We had to blend the floor without replacing it, Irmiger said, fingering in new wood to mesh seamlessly with existing wood. “We made our own floor planks.”
Bathroom makeover: The master suite had a quirky feature — a bathtub in the bedroom. “It was very odd,” said Spaulding. Voss encouraged them to remove it. “It took up a huge chunk of space, and they never used it,” she said. That wasn’t a hard sell. “With 1,600 to 1,700 square feet, you have to be very judicious about how you use space,” Spaulding said.
Removing the tub freed up space for a bigger shower, with a steam unit, and custom cabinets. “They got a significantly better shower and increased storage for her fabulous shoe collection,” said Voss.
An interior window was added to allow more light into the bathroom. “We wanted the bathroom to be light-filled, with natural light spilling from the bedroom into the shower,” Spaulding said. “It feels bright and clean,” with floor, walls and shower of honed marble.
After seeing their new master bath, Spaulding and Shea decided to update their second bath, as well. “Once we saw the new one, all light and bright, we said, ‘The other one has to go,’” Spaulding said. “Now we wonder, why didn’t we do this immediately?”
Biggest challenge: Scheduling. “It’s hard to live in a construction zone,” Voss noted. Spaulding and Shea travel extensively around the world, and chronicle their travels in a blog, “Everday Champagne”]. “We worked with the general contractor to set up a schedule that coordinated with them being out of the city. It was sort of a dance. That was the trickiest part of the project, making it the least disruptive of their lives.”
The result: When they are in town, Spaulding and Shea enjoy entertaining small groups. “We have a lot of chef friends, and we have two or three couples over and cook with chefs,” Spaulding said. “Before, it was guests on one side and cooks on the other. Now it’s integrated. We’re all sort of part of it. The table and island broke down the barrier.”