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Kevin Aeh | Photo: Tony Soluri | January 17, 2014
A magnificent Michigan Avenue bachelor pad grows up, with multiple facets and Bond-esque gadgetry.
Let’s travel back in time to a little more than 10 years ago. That’s when the owner of this Mag Mile penthouse apartment was a bachelor in his late 20s. The businessman saw that Michael Richman of Michael Richman Interiors Inc. had designed Playboy’s Bachelor Pad of the Millennium and wanted a similar wow factor for his new 5,000-square-foot high-rise home. That original design included a pool table and a game room. “He used to have parties after I designed his first home, and he’d host 300 people,” Richman says. “It was a little Gatsby-ish in that way.”
But after living in the home for more than a decade, the owner was approaching a milestone birthday and—thanks to a new love in his life—was ready to concede some of his bachelor tendencies. His personal life was changing, and it was time for the apartment to reflect that too. He purchased the 1,900-square-foot condo next door and brought Richman back to reorganize the original footprint and mesh it with the new acquisition for a seamlessly expanded space. “A new lifestyle brought on new requirements for them,” Richman says. For instance, his girlfriend loves to bake and cook, so the kitchen was totally relocated and expanded, with layered gloss, laminate cabinets and countertops made from Silestone quartz. “The kitchen wasn’t very important for a young bachelor, but it became more important for the couple now,” Richman says.
But just because our former playboy was settling down doesn’t mean his penchant for bells and whistles and show-shopping decor was going anywhere. In fact, these details got more impressive—especially when it came to his more personal space. “The owner had three babies on this project,” says Michael Miller, director for Centaur Interiors, the company brought on to facilitate the engineering, construction and design details. “And they were the office, the shower and the bar.”
The bar is actually one of the main focal points in the home, thanks in part to its gem-like geometric shape. “I became inspired by faceted architecture,” Richman says, and adds that he saw the sculptural, angular style becoming a growing movement in design. And, luckily, the owner was drawn to it as well. “He’s a wonderfully critical thinker and a great decision-maker,” Richman says. “And he immediately saw that this was unique and special.” The bar also acts as the central anchor of the apartment and divides the living and family spaces from the owner’s entertainment area. “So, it’s not like we were just setting a spaceship in the middle of the apartment,” Richman says. In fact, you’ll find angled walls and faceted ceilings in key areas throughout the apartment.
Of course, dealing with odd shapes and angles can be a challenge for construction. “The building was constructed 30 years ago, and the style back then was closed-off rooms,” says Miller. Now, when you’re in the gallery, you have unobstructed views from the east to the west. That was made possible by securing part of the hallway from the building. And in addition to completing the construction for the entire unit, Centaur also refurbished out-of-date pipes (upgrading them from galvanized to copper) and oversaw other electrical engineering work that included high-efficiency air filters and heated floors. “It was probably one of my most challenging projects,” Miller says.
But it certainly paid off. One of the most impressive parts of the build-out is the semisecret room the owner wanted. Much more than a den, this area features a wall of three flat-screen TVs, a private bathroom, a humidor, an espresso maker and a custom 10-foot long desk. “It’s one of my favorite areas,” Richman says. “There’s a lot of black steel. … The floors are black porcelain.” One way to access the room is through a pivoting steel bookcase, which acts as a secret door. “I’ve had clients before who wanted that James Bond flair, so it was fun to incorporate that,” Richman says. High-tech, futuristic touches, like keeping most fixtures—such as light switches—hidden, amplify the mystique. In addition, installing smart home systems throughout allows the owner to control everything via his iPhone or iPad.
Another notable room is the master bath, which features a shower that rivals some of the best spas in the city. “Custom spas and baths used to be the focus of our business, so I’m very familiar with that,” Miller says. The team worked closely with Hydrology to feature the latest innovations in this room. Richman is glad Centaur was there to help. “We designed the shower not completely sure it would work,” he says. “Centaur was great in figuring it out.” Highlights in the room include a massive standing shower with two 24-by-24-inch showerheads (spray, mist and waterfall functions, LED lights that change colors), a shaving sink with a heated mirror and a bench, and a slatted shower floor made from Corian solid surfacing.
Yes, a lot of these details have more of a masculine feel, but Richman says the owner’s girlfriend is OK with that. “We were at brunch one day and the boyfriend stepped away for a minute, and I said, ‘You know, this is really very masculine. Are you sure you’re comfortable with this?’” Richman recalls. “And she said, ‘If he wants it to be this way, I fully support the vision. But can we keep it warm and comfortable?’” Richman says a lot of the finishes and furniture are the result of the discussions and design presentations he had with her. “The texture and the fabric we used really warm up the space.”
Will the couple remodel once again when their family possibly expands? “The home wasn’t specifically designed for children… but there is a space that could easily turn into a nursery,” Richman hints. Still, if need be, the team may most likely be game for a round-three revamp!