Like a lot of empty nesters, the prominent couple who own this condo sold the big house in the burbs when the children were grown and moved into the city. But space was not one of the things they were prepared to sacrifice. Neither was a relationship with nature – so often inaccessible to apartment dwellers. In fact, a major selling point was the view from the giant windows that line two sides of the condo. A sea of green treetops goes on for miles, but it starts right across the street. In winter, the snow-covered branches and other structures create an entirely different effect, but at all times a sense of the outside is very much present.


The generous size was the other attraction for the residents. The 5,000-square-foot condo was actually adjoining units that had been connected by the previous owner, doubling the space. The size enabled the couple to design two private wings and a large public area. One wing houses the master bedroom, baths, and study, the other two guest bedrooms used by their children when they visit. Joining the wings is a giant, L-shaped space, largely open, that contains the living room, dining room, family room and home office, along with two working fireplaces.


Enter interior designer Selma Sherman of Selma B. Sherman/Interiors, a longtime friend who decorated the couple’s previous homes. Her first challenge was to change the layout by officially integrating the apartments, which meant removing one of the two kitchens and opening up the walls. When it came to creating the breakfast room, a load-bearing wall had to be demolished – a major undertaking in a condo with floors above it and city inspectors to satisfy.


Mrs. Sherman’s second challenge was to incorporate furnishings from the suburban house and from the owners’ Arizona home, which they had decided to sell. While one was quite formal and traditional, the other was more relaxed and steeped in the colors of the southwest.


“The house in Arizona was mostly teal, which doesn’t work out here, and the wife’s favorite color is peach. She thinks women look beautiful in it,” says Mrs. Sherman. “I found this fabric from the Ritz Collection in Paris that had both the peach and the turquoise colors in it. That became my focal point and I branched off from there.”


Knowing the owners well was a major advantage for Mrs. Sherman, who notes that many clients become friends because designing someone’s home is ultimately an intimate process. Their lifestyle and history are important factors in creating a space that fits their needs.

“I tailor my design to the client’s lifestyle. This apartment is very flexible because the clients entertain a lot, both casually and formally, and they have to be able to accommodate that. They often have large groups, and the furniture can be moved to accommodate any of those needs. Good design is a way of life,” Mrs. Sherman notes.


While the warm peach tones unite the rooms, one of Mrs. Sherman’s biggest accomplishments is defining each space within the condo, creating distinctive rooms with invisible borders and individual character. The formal living and dining rooms lead to an informal family section with comfy sofas, a large television and a glass-topped table for easy dining. A pass-through to the kitchen was built to let light into the dark, trapped space, but it also serves as a visual extension of both rooms. Numerous lighting options are especially important to Mrs. Sherman, from the many recessed lights to a 19th-century English chandelier.





With 28 years of experience, Mrs. Sherman likes the fact that she’s not known for any particular look, though she favors contemporary. “People come to me because I take care of the details and they don’t have to worry, from start to finish.”


That was especially true with this project. Condo regulations gave Mrs. Sherman only six months to complete the work. The secret she says was having everything ready to go including a perfect match for the Rosa Aurora marble that she scoured the country to find. “We didn’t hit a nail until we were completely ready!”

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