Soothing shades allow one Center City couple’s collection of modern artwork to stand out.
Designed by Betsy McCue Train, the décor in Marjorie Weingarten’s home (including the living room, pictured) juxtaposes modern art with classic furniture and family mementos.
“The amenities are what sealed the deal for us,” says Marjorie Weingarten of her apartment in 1706 Rittenhouse Square, where she and her husband, Bryan, were among the first occupants when its doors opened in 2010. She notes the personal elevator access, the automated underground parking, the concierge service, and, of course, its proximity to the square.
Working with designer Betsy McCue Train and architect Christina Carter, senior associate at John Milner Architects (104 Lakeview Dr., Chadds Ford, 610-388-0111), these empty nesters made the empty spaces—all 4,000-plus square feet of them—their own with the addition of a 1,000-bottle wine closet, built-ins by local furniture maker David Wothers, and separate his-and-her baths (instead of one shared master bath) in the three-bedroom residence. Adhering to her mantra of “design follows the architecture,” Train encouraged the couple to rethink the formal furniture and traditional artwork with which she had populated their previous Main Line home. “They didn’t want to go out and buy new furniture,” she says, “so my solution was to reupholster most of it in the same neutral chenille fabric.” One holdout in the ultramodern scheme: the dining room, where a reproduction Queen Anne pedestal table of tiger’s eye maple and antique Sheraton sideboards rest under the watchful eye of American primitive and Impressionist paintings.
White cabinetry in the kitchen complements shelving found elsewhere in the home.
Most of the figurative paintings on display are contemporary, though. “I like people as subjects,” Weingarten says simply. “But there are a lot of ways to depict them”—like the fantasy world of little girls created by outsider artist Henry Darger, or the portrait of Jackie Kennedy Onassis made from diamonds by Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz. “Margie loves whimsical work,” says Train. “And she has a very spontaneous, delightful eye.”
That’s why the designer recommended a chandelier fashioned from common light bulbs but given wings, literally, by the addition of angelic feathers to lighten up the elegant dining room. The Weingartens “responded immediately to the unpredictability” of the piece, by the German lighting designer Ingo Maurer, says Train. Dramatic sculptural and craft pieces punctuate the apartment throughout, from a Carrara marble bench by Jenny Holzer that straightfacedly suggests you “turn soft and lovely anytime you have a chance” to a see-through Lucite coffee table by Yves Klein that’s filled with piles of glittering gold leaf. “It looks wonderful at night when the lights hit it,” says Weingarten.
A 1,000-bottle wine closet is another custom addition.
The full-floor residence—with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow light on all four sides and an open floor plan with 10-foot ceilings and no columns—is a great setting not just for art but for all décor, says real estate broker Laurie Phillips of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Realtors. “You can have any kind of art or furniture here,” she says. “Take what you have if you’re downsizing from a larger Main Line home and it will look just as beautiful.”
Cohesiveness in such a large apartment is critical. Oak floors covered in sisal rugs unite the home’s diverse spaces, as do double-hung beige drapes, which shield the sun’s rays or reveal sweeping views, depending on the mood. The bright Joanne Hudson kitchen is outfitted entirely in white cabinetry that echoes shelving found elsewhere in the house, while the baths are uniformly clad in light woods and limestone. “This has been a really comfortable place to live,” sums up Weingarten. “Everything flows very naturally, but it feels contained and manageable. It’s cozy even though it’s large.” For more information, contact Laurie Phillips, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Realtors, The Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 W. Rittenhouse Sq., Ste. 406, 215-790-5644