One tenacious homeowner bounces back high above the Ohio River
To the right of the fireplace are doors to the balcony. The terrace is to the left of the sofa.
During a time when most of us would have retreated to our beds with a stash of chocolate and a stack of DVDs, one determined woman took a different path after dealing with an emotional double blow. | The timing was not great—while coping with the dissolution of her marriage and leaving her Hyde Park home, this person also discovered that she needed to undergo knee replacement surgery on not just one, but both knees. It was, as she describes, a “very emotional, very trying time.”
When deciding where to recuperate—both short term and long term—she was drawn to The Ascent in Covington.
“I knew before I moved here that I loved this place,” she says. “I had visited friends who lived here and I knew that I wanted to live on the river somewhere.”
A bit of serendipity combined with some smart thinking when the woman discovered that The Ascent had two condominiums set aside for short-term rentals. The single-level floor plan, combined with the building’s elevator, private car and driver made it a perfect place for the post-surgical patient to recover. So, in June of 2008, she hired a nurse, moved in, and took her new location and lifestyle for a test ride.
The designer used furniture, including this taupe linen sectional, to define living spaces in the open floor plan.
Moving on up
By August, recovery was well underway and she decided she was ready to put down permanent roots in the building. After looking at one particular 3,200-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2½-bath unit on the 17th floor, she was ready to buy.
One of the building’s penthouse spaces, the unit featured a front balcony facing east, a side terrace with sunset views to the west, a panoramic view of Covington and the cut in the hill from the master bath, and an abundance of windows and natural light. But there was plenty of work to be done: the walls were in place, but the floor was just concrete; there was no lighting or plumbing; and the homeowner wanted to be settled by Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, the real estate agent knew a talented designer who could help with furnishing the new space. After the homeowner viewed Renan Menninger’s portfolio she knew she’d found the perfect designer to help her shift from her previously antique-centered style to crisp and clean contemporary.
“I wanted to go to the opposite end of the spectrum,” the homeowner says. “And I needed to do it in a hurry. Renan and I spent almost every day together for three or four months at least—maybe more than that.”
Menninger says she thoroughly enjoyed the time she spent with the homeowner and was not intimidated in the least by the time frame.
“For me, the pace was fantastic,” says Menninger. “I was able to take her energy and really go with it. I wish all my jobs were like that. Sometimes the train slows down and you really lose the creative energy.”
A wine refrigerator is built into one end of the kitchen’s massive island.
It’s all about the details
Together, the pair traveled to granite yards, flooring centers, fabric stores and lighting studios. The designer’s goal was to create a contemporary, yet comfortable, soft and feminine space for the homeowner, while staying true to what the architect—world-renowned Daniel Libeskind—may have envisioned for the space.
“To me, this design was about sky and water,” Menninger says. “The idea was to incorporate the surroundings. I kept the furniture low and clean so that the focus was on the view.”
With a nod to the Ohio River below, when the two discovered a river-like pattern flowing through the piece of granite they selected, they elongated the island to nearly eleven feet so as not to interrupt the surface’s “flow.” Nearby, over the dining room table, a light fixture suggested by Drew Dearwester of Switch Lighting and Design undulates in a similar manner.
It’s touches like these that contribute to the clean and crisp—yet incredibly inviting—finished look of the space.
“That’s my forté,” says Menninger. “I love helping people understand that contemporary does not need to have a cold and unapproachable esthetic. It can be warm and inviting.”
The bed and side tables in the master bedroom were designed by Menninger.
All settled, so to speak
The week of Thanksgiving, less than six months after her surgery, the homeowner moved in to begin her new urban lifestyle. Although the mood has definitely changed, things haven’t slowed down a bit. She keeps busy with lots of volunteer work at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and the 4th Street Boutique which benefits Dress for Success—in fact she is co-chairing that organization’s Fashion Bash Luncheon and Saks Fashion Show on September 20 at the Hyatt for approximately 700 women.
Plus, she’s met several new friends from the building—including a man she has been dating for the past couple of years. And, the floor she lives on is known as the party floor in the building. “I leave my door open and people know to come and have a drink,” she says.
When the weather is warm the party may move out to a living room she has set up on the terrace. Or, inspired by the view outside her window, the homeowner may decide to capitalize on her new knees and her new life and stroll across the Roebling Bridge with a whole new spring in her step.
Designer: Renan Menninger, Allied ASID, RM Interiors; Architect: Daniel Libeskind; Builder: Corporex; Flooring: Ohio Valley Flooring; Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry: Sims-Lohman; Countertops: Mont Granite; Kitchen backsplash: Dickey’s Glass; Bathroom sinks and faucet: Keidel; Lighting: Switch Lighting & Design; Wallcovering: Donghia; Furniture: Voltage; Glass sliding interior doors: Dickey’s Glass; Fireplace insert: Bromwell’s; Fireplace surround: Designed by Renan Menninger; Master and guest beds and bedside tables: Designed by Renan Menninger, constructed by Don Justice Cabinet Makers