Making The Most
Park Avenue to Bratenahl Lakefront

by Melissa Lefelar

Moving from a two-bedroom apartment in bustling Manhattan, the city that never sleeps, to a Cape Cod style townhouse on the shores of Lake Erie is a transition that few homeowners make. But a local executive did just that, and the home that he has created combines both his old, metropolitan world with his new, quieter life in Bratenahl.

When the homeowner came here to work as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for a large downtown company, he knew he wanted to live near the water. He looked on both sides of town, but didn’t find what he was looking for until he discovered a two-bedroom end unit at Bratenahl’s Shoreby Club. He loved the lakefront location and the activities at the nearby clubhouse, but knew the home needed a renovation to fit with his lifestyle.

His real estate agent put him in contact with Trac (pronounced “Trace”) Papish, Principal and Senior Designer of Associated Designs in Cleveland Heights, and the two worked closely for the six months it took to complete the project. Even the former owners were anxious to see what the two would come up with. “They were very excited to see what we were going to do,” said Papish. “Most people, when selling their home, are offended that you want to change it, but they weren’t.” The former owners favored a nautical theme, which Papish said was very appropriate to the setting, but didn’t fit the tastes of his client. To create what he refers to as a “first floor apartment” feel, most of the home was gutted and reconfigured.

Papish knew that the owner’s previous address would influence the way he designed the space. “We wanted to create an open floor plan for him, so that the space was useable and functional. That’s why we have things like the glass handrails, so there aren’t a lot of barriers,” said Papish. The openness also creates an illusion of more space; though the first floor is only about 1100 square feet, it appears larger. “In New York, I had more of a traditional apartment,” the homeowner said. “I wanted this to have a bit more of a mixture of some of my older antiques with the new, to create a clean, new feel to it.”

This attention to design goes all the way down to the new custom moldings and baseboards, with hidden electrical outlets. “He has all of these beautiful pieces. He wanted cleaner lines, so we took away the curve of the more traditional (baseboards) and added more of a block, which is more transitional,” said Papish.

The homeowner spends the majority of his time on the first floor, in the living room, kitchen and outside deck. Papish worked to make that area flow, whether the owner was enjoying a night at home by himself or entertaining his employees with a summer cocktail party. “The key is to get people through it, to get people out on to the deck. So the island is placed at a vertical alignment instead of horizontal so there are no barriers,” Papish said. The guests are drawn to the deck with a commanding view of the club’s boat slips and the lake beyond, and also the placement of the bar next to the French doors.

Papish also created intimate seating pockets throughout the first floor, so that the homeowner and his guests felt more comfortable within the expansive area. The furnishings reflect the mixing of old and new, as well as the owner’s world travels. “I lived for four years in Brussels. I picked up some things there, some artwork and furniture, also in Paris and other European cities,” he said.

In front of the granite-surround fireplace sits a Louis XVI sofa he purchased in Atlanta and a marble and mahogany coffee table from Belgium. Two new salon chairs from the Thomas Pheasant Collection and upholstered in a tan and navy leaf print complete the seating area. An 1890 Biedermeier commode sits behind the sofa and displays more artwork. A 19th century oil painting of the Belgian coast, the owner’s favorite piece, rests above the floating mantle. Special lighting on dimmers is used to enhance the important artwork throughout the home.

A round, Barbara Barry dining table with six Thomas Pheasant salon chairs fills the circular dining space. The chairs are upholstered in a Pollack print with blue leather on the backs. The quarter sawn oak floors are stained tobacco, fitting the metropolitan flavor and also accentuating the beauty of the furniture.

While walking through the space, you are constantly reminded of the nearby lake and peaceful surroundings. Papish said that isn’t by accident. He used a total of nine hues to create a custom, soothing color throughout the home, which works to draw the eye outside. “We used this tone because it’s more soothing from the outside to the inside. So you have this pale beige/yellow tone, but it brings the green and the blue out. It actually brings the lake and the land inside,” he said. It gives it a very rich, vintage 1940’s feel. And it also makes the furniture rise up.

The new kitchen would fit in the home of a Michael Symon, with top-of-the-line appliances and plenty of work space. The homeowner said he is no Iron Chef, but still wanted the best kitchen possible. “I cook when there are people coming over, but for myself, I’m pretty lazy,” he said. There is a juxtaposition of light and dark in the custom cabinetry, designed by Associated Designs. The cabinets are a combination of tiger maple and ebony-stained maple. There is ample storage space throughout the kitchen, including under the 5-burner Wolf cook top for pots and pans and beside the stainless range hood for spices and cooking oils.

The focus of the right-side wall is the Sub-Zero, glass-doored refrigerator. Its clean lines and striking design make it stand out from your typical refrigerator freezer. And its stainless steel material led to another atypical choice. “We just did the whole wall in stainless for an industrial look,” said Papish.

Two kinds of granite were used in the kitchen: Antique Brown for the area surrounding the sink (though it really appears bluish-black in color) and for the fireplace surround. Persia, in shades of brown and tan top the elevated island and the living room bar. The backsplash is Italian Honey Onyx quartz and again carries into the bar area. “It has depth to it and is beautiful. Instead of using your typical subway tile, which is popular now, we picked something else, which works very well,” said Papish. A 27-inch flat screen television is mounted on a raised swivel arm, which makes it visible no matter where you are on the first floor. All three of the home’s flat screens are connected to the whole-house sound system.

The master suite is reached by going through a short hallway off the living area. To the right is a petite powder room painted a soothing green color. Art abounds even in this small space with a pair of 19th century Galien-Laloue oils: one in the water closet and one in the adjacent alcove.

The bedroom has all new furnishings. A king-size bed from Donghia, featuring a beige satiny headboard and crisp, white linens, anchors the room. Modern side tables with lamps provide light, along with a clever use of recessed lighting with dimmers for couples whose bedtimes don’t mesh. “You can read without bothering the other person, so (when your light is on) there’s no light on the other side of the bed,” says Papish.

The room is compact, but it feels bigger because of a turreted seating area that looks onto the boat dock. Two Donghia salon chairs in a Nancy Corzine fabric frame the view, along with an Empire, marble-topped table. The owner’s collection of glass paper weights from around the world is displayed below in a glass bowl. Papish maximized the storage space with a corner, ceiling height cabinet that holds the owner’s stereo and other electronic equipment. A 32” flat screen on a swivel arm is viewable from the bed or the seating area. A floating single wooden shelf is just below the TV and runs the length of the wall, offering a handy surface that would otherwise be the top of a dresser for keys and pocket change.

An all-cherry open closet sits between the master bedroom and bath. The same crown detail used throughout the house is evident, even in this private space. Two mirrored dressing doors, plenty of hanging space and deep shelves maximize the available square footage.

The bathroom is an oasis, dominated by a rectangular soaking tub with Carrera marble surround. The same marble is floated on the walls for towel storage and used on the countertop. Double porcelain undermount sinks by Barbara Barry, a green glass walk-in shower and backsplash and black granite floor complete the look. The same tiger maple custom cabinets that are found in the kitchen provide stylish storage for toiletries and grooming products. Two large vanities, with fog-proof mirrors, open towards each other revealing otherwise hidden space for daily use items.

The upstairs posed an interesting challenge, as one of the best views of the lake was lost to an open space above the home’s foyer. Papish cantilevered a new floor over that space, making it usable as a seating area and giving the homeowner one more place to enjoy Lake Erie. In addition to four club chairs, a telescope has pride of place for stargazing on clear nights.

After removing an existing closet and wall, the new space was combined with an old bedroom as the new media room. A 42-inch flat screen allows the homeowner and friends to watch movies. The built-in shelves along one wall hold books and more objects de art. The guest bedroom is the only carpeted room in the home. It has the same turret seating area as the master and the same spectacular view of the marina and lake.

Anyone would feel very comfortable in the upstairs bathroom, which was completely gutted to get the desired look. Done in complimentary tones of beige, tan and cream, the wall and shower tile and limestone surround invite guests inside. The floor tile makes an interesting border for the mirror above the sink.

Both the homeowner and Papish acknowledge that the key to such a successful renovation was their collaboration. Everything was well thought out, without looking overly planned. In fact, while the renovation was taking place, the homeowner would venture over often from his nearby rented condo at Bratenahl Place and survey the progress.

“If you really look at the furniture and upholstery, nothing is matchy-matchy-matchy. That was the whole purpose of this. We didn’t want it to look like we walked into a furniture store and bought it. We wanted it to look like it was collected on his travels,” Papish said.

The designer and client went together to the Ohio Design Centre and to other vendors. That close working relationship achieved the desired results.

“He would share with me his thoughts and we would then do designs and we’d walk back through it. He was very hands on and was so easy to work with,” says Papish.

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