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Decorating a loft with mid-century modern design
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Greg Lukeman's loft in the Ely Walker Building was not going to become a glorified bachelor pad.
Forget the typical leather-and-chrome treatment — default decorating in the city's converted lofts.
Lukeman, 49, executive director of Food Outreach, exudes style and savoir-faire, and he found an interior designer wanting to create the same sensibility in his home.
"I wanted to do high design. I wanted a mid-century look to it," Lukeman said. He recently downsized from a 2,500 square foot Cape Cod, traditionally decorated house in St. Louis County to a 1,400 square foot loft with distressed hardwood floors.
"A lot of my work and life revolves around the city," he said. "I have always wanted to have a modern and minimal living environment."
Lukeman is part of the growing number of people taking up residence in downtown.
Because of the crash in the housing market, the number of condos sold in downtown last year was down more than 50 percent from the prior year, according to the 2008 Downtown St. Louis Housing Report. But many developers turned their exisiting units into rental apartments, so there were 6 percent more people living downtown compared to 2007.
"People who wanted to live in downtown weren't sure they wanted to buy, but now people can rent," said Kevin Farrell, director of economic and housing development with the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis.
Lukeman was one of those who decided to rent a loft on Washington Avenue as a way to test out city living.
"I wanted to be closer to work, be able to walk to restaurants, the gym and cleaners."
He brought a few pieces of furniture with him, including a vintage Eames rocker and a blond Thonet chair, and made some finds at The Future Antiques on Grand Boulevard. Jacob Laws, a young and upcoming designer with CURE Design Group, helped him blend new purchases with the look he wanted to achieve.
"I loved the juxtaposition, the character of older pieces and the high style of the mid-century pieces," Laws said "There is a collaborative effort between old and new." Mixing the styles also gave the space a more collected aesthetic, rather than a cookie-cutter page out of a catalog.
The main living area of the loft is a shotgun space, with a long, open floor plan. Laws chose a monochromatic color scheme and varied the tone of the paint color on the walls. In the early evenings, the walls look mossy gray and turn darker and deeper into the night.
A round dining table in the middle of the area creates movement in the center of the space and breaks the linear feel in the room. The base of the table, a collection of curved steel lines, looks like a sculpture in itself. The glass and metal of the dining table and cocktail table are warmed by the older wooden pieces.
"I didn't want someone to walk in and see the expected," Laws said.
"I didn't want a really raw loft space," he said. So the main furniture pieces temper the edginess of a loft space.
The Knoll sofa is finished in tufted velvet in a color called "Parchment," which almost blends in with the wall. A monochromatic color scheme creates a sense of a larger space and more cohesiveness. The legs of the cocktail table are mirrored and seem to disappear in the room, creating more spaciousness in the living area. Laws added the wooden Herman Miller stools in order to have more accessible seating for entertaining.
"The pieces are doing their job and doubling as art," he said.
The end result resembles a hybrid: an inviting condo with a loft's open spaces and high ceilings.
"I couldn't be happier," Laws said. "The space personifies Greg — eclectic and modern, sophisticated and well-grounded."
And Lukeman has a new home — reinvented.