PHOTOGRAPHY: LARRY ARNAL
When Stephanie and Timothy Quinn took over the two-bedroom condo that would be their first home together as a married couple, they handed the keys to their designer and didn’t see it completed until they returned from their honeymoon. “I wanted that element of surprise,” says Stephanie. “We gave her a chance to do a big reveal when we came back.” The couple came home, dropped their suitcases, and moved in.
They brought none of their old furniture, but created a whole new space for their lives together. “You don’t get jobs like that very often, where you have complete and utter freedom,” says Yvonne Whelan, principal designer and owner at Yvonne Whelan Design, who oversaw the transformation.
Located in a newly built 26-storey building in Yorkville with 24-hour concierge service and such amenities as a pet spa, the condo has a central living space with kitchen, dining and bar areas. On each side of that living area there is a bedroom and a full bathroom, for a total of about 1,350 square feet. Whelan says that when she first saw the condo, it was a blank canvas – white walls, no light fixtures. But there were some constraints. “It is a small space, so you’re limited in what you can do,” the designer says. “You know where to put the sofa and TV.”
The Quinns wanted to make it a space in which to entertain their friends. So they built a wine fridge into the kitchen cabinetry and turned a wall nook into a bar area with built-in shelves. “It’s a tight space, so when we do have guests, it’s important that it all flows together,” Stephanie says. There’s also an outdoor patio area with seating and a dining table.
The furniture wasn’t a complete surprise. The Quinns did give the go-ahead for a lot of the large pieces. “There were many emails going back and forth: ‘Do you like this chandelier?’ That sort of thing,” Stephanie says. “I sent her some of my inspirations, some ideas from Pinterest, things I like.”
She wanted a masculine feel for the condo, for its decor to be a little darker than her previous homes, and “not too girly,” but still wanted some sparkle and shine. To get just the right bling factor, she wanted to use a variety of mixed metals in the detailing and accent pieces. Her new husband left most of the decisions to her. “If something was missing or not right, he would speak up,” she says. “I knew he didn’t want any yellow!”
Whelan did a layout, planned the furniture, then started finalizing the plan and ordering the pieces. As they arrived, she put them into storage, though she kept some of the more delicate pieces in her own home to make sure they wouldn’t get damaged. She custom-designed the bar, dining table and sofa. Then, with the Quinns safely out of town, she moved it all in and staged the apartment for their arrival home.
The result, Stephanie says, was everything they’d hoped it would be. “When she saw the master bedroom, Stephanie was in tears,” Whelan says. “It’s completely her style.” The guest bedroom was a complete surprise, as were so many of the accessories and other finishings Whelan had selected for them.
“When it came down to the towels, sheets and soaps, I basically bought everything. They moved their suitcases into the bedroom,” Whelan says.
She even bought art, on spec, so the walls wouldn’t be bare and to ensure the space would look completed for the big reveal. “That was really difficult; art is so subjective to the person. I was crossing my fingers they would like it,” Whelan says. It wasn’t too big a risk, she adds, since she had the option of returning it if it didn’t suit them. “If they had not wanted a particular piece of art, I wouldn’t have been offended.”
The result, however, was a “turnkey” home and a delightful, welcome surprise for the newlyweds. •
Yvonne Whelan Design