Stunning Downtown Cincinnati Penthouse Condo
Between the Extremes: Homeowner provides balance between high-tech work and relaxed roots
Traveling southbound on Interstate 71, parallel with the city, drivers enter the Lytle Tunnel to travel underneath Lytle Park. The Procter & Gamble complex is off to the right and the hills of Mt. Adams are off to the left. And in between, appearing to balance on top of the tunnel, sits the condo of Jennifer Day.
It seems fitting her home is nestled between the hustle and bustle of downtown and the relaxing atmosphere of Mt. Adams, because the condo itself has become a middle ground between Day’s fast-paced life in California and her quiet upbringing on a farm in rural Ohio.
The palatial penthouse unit has three bedrooms, an open floor plan and million-dollar views. Yet, there is a sense of warmth, familiarity and coziness that Day attributes to the collections found throughout her home.
UC DAAP trains an eye for design
“I come from the opposite of this,” Day says of her early years growing up on a farm. “But I always had an eye for design. My mom would come home and the house would look totally different. I loved rearranging things.”
Day took her design intuition to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning where she studied interior design. As much as she enjoyed her career in design, she transitioned into the marketing sector. The ’96 Olympics took her to Atlanta for work, and from there she moved to California to the mega center of the high-tech boom in Silicon Valley.
In 2008, on a trip home to visit family, Day decided she was ready to move back to Ohio. “I picked up a Cincinnati Magazine, and on the plane ride back to California I decided I was moving.”
Much of the initial house hunting happened over the Internet. After a few failed attempts at different properties, she stumbled upon her home. “It needed a lot of tweaking,” Day says of her initial visit to her condo. “But the foundation was all here, and I knew what I wanted to do.”
Eclectic, modern style
While her style continues to evolve, her taste has always been eclectic with modern, clean lines. “I have a lot of the same pieces I had in California—but they look completely different in this space. This condo allows for a little more drama.”
The two favorite rooms in her home are actually the smallest—the lounge and dressing room.
The lounge, located between the dining room and guest bedroom, is a great place to read and watch television while enjoying the amazing views from a high-top table nestled next to the expansive windows. This space is also very functional for entertaining. The television retracts down into a custom-made buffet, which can be set as either a bar or a dessert station. The high-top table provides additional seating for guests, and two comfy chairs create a conversation area for guests.
The dressing room is another spot where friends like to hang out. The fainting bed is a focal point of the space. Day vividly remembers the bed from her family farm. The top folds open, and she remembers sleeping on the mattress hidden inside. She had the piece reupholstered to match her current decor, but it still holds fond memories.
Design tips you can use
Day’s home is full of unique pieces and creative design elements. It’s like a Design 101 classroom, and she was gracious enough to share some tips:
Create a flow between minimal and compact spaces
Normally the dining room table is kept bare (it was set for company the day we visited) because it is positioned next to the lounge where the room is full of furniture and the shelves are full of collections.
“This design style gives the eye a break when it needs a break, but it also provides comfort when you need comfort,” Day explains. “My bookshelves tend to be full, so I usually keep the space around my bookshelves pretty minimal.”
Fireplace keeps things functional
This principle came into play while Day was redesigning the fireplace in her living room. She wanted the fireplace to be vertical to bring drama and height to the space, but she also wanted to create a sitting area beside the fireplace. The seat needed to be just the right height so people could enjoy the view yet allow space underneath the seat for storage.
“I mocked everything out in cardboard to make sure it was perfect before it was built,” Day says.
Surround yourself with things you love
For Day, these are collections of bottles and buttons, family photos, trinket boxes and her father’s trumpet found on the shelves in her office—the place she spends most of her time.
Now that she lives in Cincinnati, she works from home for a California-based company. The space is inviting with a sofa flanked by matching bookcases. The shelves of these bookcases hold childhood treasures—including a collection of bottles.
Day suggests putting knickknacks in bottles for display instead of leaving them empty. She has her grandmother’s buttons, her dad’s marbles and shells from her brother’s wedding carefully nestled inside her bottle collection.
Remove cabinet doors to expose what’s inside
This can be accomplished by either using glass cabinet doors or by leaving shelving exposed.
“I always liked opening a cabinet and seeing what was inside,” Day explains. “So, I thought, ‘Why not use it to break up the darkness of cabinetry?’”
Her grandmother’s punch cups are visible through glass cabinet doors in the kitchen. Master bathroom shelves display another bottle collection.
Invest in signature pieces
Whether you enjoy pottery or art, Day recommends saving money to splurge on the real thing.
“When I was in my twenties, I told myself I wasn’t going to have anything on my walls until I could afford the real thing,” she explains. “My walls were bare for a long time. When I was thirty, I finally bought my first piece.”
The first big art purchase was Venus. “I was sitting at a red light outside Malton Art Gallery, and I saw her through the window,” she explains. “I knew I had to have her.”
Do what feels right
Despite the tips on how she designed her own space, Day reminds us of the Golden Rule of design—there really isn’t one right way to design.
“I think there’s this misconception that interior designers spent time in school arranging shelves and hanging artwork on walls, but we didn’t do that,” she explains of her degree. “In school we learned things like the physics of heat, light and color and science behind design. When it comes to decorating, I just do what feels right.”
General contractor: Lance Parris; Tile work: Phil Ohntrup; Draperies: May Decorating; Rugs: The Rug Gallery; Tile: The Hamilton Parker Company;
LIVING ROOM Fireplace insert: Bromwell’s; Cabinetry: Don Justice; Ottoman and tray: Williams-Sonoma Home; Table lamp: Restoration Hardware;
DINING ROOM Dining table: Arhaus; Dining chairs: Room and Board; Chandelier: High Street; Floral arrangements: Eden Floral Boutique;
OFFICE Cabinetry: Custom by Rob Stigler’s Woodworks; Artwork: Malton Art Gallery; Sofa: Room and Board; Side table: Williams-Sonoma Home; Ottoman: Custom;
DRESSING ROOM Fainting bed: Reupholstered by May Decorating; Painting: Malton Art Gallery; Mirrored table: West Elm; Cow hide: Plantation Home Design, San Francisco;
KITCHEN Cabinetry: Lower are original; Upper by Innerwood and Company; Pottery: Mica, Anthropologie, and Frances Palmer Pottery; River photo: Legacies;
CLOSET Built-ins: Closets by Design;
GUEST ROOM Lighting: Switch; Throw: Williams-Sonoma Home;
MASTER BATH Cabinetry: Innerwood and Company; Fixtures: Ferguson; Lighting: Switch