Places, Please

By Katie Mavrich, Whirl Magazine

November, 23rd 2010

“The client walked in, saw this light, and bought the apartment in two hours,” Sherman says. The entire apartment was re-wired with Lutron Graffik Eye QS, a wireless lighting control system, which defines areas and holds preset scenes, such as “Romantic,” “Entertaining,” and “Nighttime,” that can be set with the touch of a single button.

Mi se en place, a French phrase for “everything in place,” is a philosophy that most chefs live by to ensure that every ingredient on the day’s menu is accounted for. Interior designer Selma Sherman could easily adopt the phrase as her mantra. “My thing for every client is that good design is a way of life — everything has a place and a function,” she says. As a result, her interior design work is very practical and organized.

Case in point: Sherman did a complete overhaul in this Shadyside apartment. The fireplace that remains is the only component of the original setting. Walls were knocked down and moved to open the space. The kitchen is completely clutter free, thanks to a small cabinet near the chef’s sink that hides the coffee pot and other small appliances. Ample storage in the cabinetry and center island help keep other appliances, which would otherwise take up counter space, at bay. “The client has four sets of dishes. I designed the cabinets so that they had a place [for all of them],” she says.

In the den, a flat-panel television hangs on an entertainment center, and there are no wires, cable boxes, or Blu-ray players in sight. That’s because an infrared panel, located below the screen, controls all of the electronics with one remote, and everything is wired through the wall to a separate room.

“Rooms should come alive with the client’s personality,” Sherman says. “I ask a lot of questions to determine their personalities.” And that’s exactly why, though the apartment is clean and straightforward in its design, it still looks lived in.

Curriculum Vitae

Sherman holds a B.A. from Boston University and a Masters degree in fine arts and art history from Hunter College in New York. She hails from New York, but has called Pittsburgh home for 37 years.

Current Design Trends

“Right now, the trends are not in color or furniture style, but more of nesting and being at home. I think a lot of that has to do with the economy — people are using their homes more, so they are spending more time and more effort on their homes.”

Light my Fire

The fireplace is the only original element in the apartment. Its style fits in perfectly with the clean lines used throughout the apartment.

Open Floor Plan

Sherman knocked out the wall that used to separate the kitchen from the dining room and living room in order to open up the space. She incorporated the built-in wine rack at an angle to further open things up and create a seamless transition between the two spaces.

All Tiled Up

“There are so many wonderful things you can do with tile,” Sherman says. The client wanted the powder room to feel like a “little jewel box,” so Sherman used glass mosaic tiles in shades of blue and aqua on the floor and wall. Limestone, glass subway tiles, and custom tile work are all featured in the apartment’s two other bathrooms and create a spa-like feel.

Reading Nook

Sherman planned recessed reading lights in the ceiling, placing them above chairs and the bed in the master bedroom, so that reading lamps didn’t add clutter.

Free and Clear

The kitchen is flexible, allowing for an intimate dinner for two on the granite island from Premier Granite and Stone. That same granite slab can be used as a buffet station for parties. The Wolf oven and Wolf microwave/convection combination oven, Fisher Paykel two-drawer dishwasher, and Miele Induction cooktop, are all state-of-the-art appliances that are available at Hillmon Appliance Distributors. Sherman works with Cuvee Kitchens’ kitchen planner, Ida McConnell.

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