gates and Moroccan sculptures mark the formal entry to the
University Club Tower condominium. The Four Seasons Room
beyond features hand-cast plaster crown moldings, inlaid wood
flooring and hand-polished Venetian plaster ceilings that
reflect the sky and the views down to the water, which adds
depth to the space. "The biggest challenge was to find
the (trades) people who are capable of producing the kind of
detail we were looking for," interior designer William
designer William Koehnlein was in on the ground floor of the
University Club Tower, drawing up plans for his clients’ high-rise
condo even before developers broke ground on the project.
Taking up about
8,000 square feet on one of the top floors of the city’s
third-tallest building, the condo’s focal point isn’t the
panoramic city views but the clients’ expansive art collection.
clients wanted to have a space that would allow them to live fully
with their collection of art," says Koehnlein, director of design
for Collaborative Design, Waukesha. "The artwork dictated the
environment it wanted to be displayed in."
art degree proved valuable to the project as he spent three days at
the clients’ home cataloging the artwork that would be used in the
condo, including old masters paintings, sculpture, stained glass and
furniture, with some of the pieces dating to the Italian Renaissance.
projects that I’m involved in, the client looks for us to do the
final decorating job," Koehnlein says. "In this case they
had most of their furnishings from a lifetime of collecting. We were
responsible for creating the background the furnishings would fit
William Bouguereau painting is featured at the end of the
floor plan works off of a central access point that separates public
and private spaces within the condo. From the main entry is the dining
room, called the Four Seasons Room from the sculptures that reside
there. To the north are the kitchen, study and master suite; to the
south are the library, billiards room, sitting and guest rooms. Each
of the areas also has an enclosed terrace. The condo’s central
corridor showcases artwork. "They wanted the main corridor to be
large enough that they could step away and view artwork from a
distance, so the corridors are quite wide," Koehnlein says.
What is the mood
of the condo?
definitely traditional, but it’s very warm and inviting. Everyone we
have walked through the space is struck by how inviting and warm it
is. It definitely has a dressiness to it that is not typical. But the
whole space is very eclectic, housing a collection of art they have
collected throughout their lifetime. Many pieces have been handed down
in their family. It’s a look we will often try to attain in a new
home, to make it look like it’s collected over the years."
This is a
designer’s dream project. What was your biggest design challenge?
a vision to the clients so they could understand how it would look.
They had some strong ideas of what they wanted in the space and we had
to show them all the options so they could achieve what they were
looking for. They brought a lot of things to the table that were
successful in the outcome that I wouldn’t have necessarily
How did you
choose wall colors to accentuate the art and not compete with it?
curves of the kitchen design take their cues from the building’s
architecture. The booth seating is situated in a cozy alcove
with views of Lake Michigan. One of the condo’s two enclosed
terraces is located off of the kitchen. Koehnlein says his
clients wanted the kitchen to be separated from the public
areas of the home.
is critical. The background is not totally void of tone. The
background color is more of like a middle tone, which allows the
artwork to kind of pop a little bit. Most of the wall covering is
fabric we had backed and hung as wall covering."
What are the
unifying elements from room to room?
"There is a
flow of complementary colors being used from one space to the next. A
lot of the same colors are being used but in different quantities in
each room. The same species of wood is being used but we did different
detailing. We also tried to have lots of refined details but not let
them be over the top that they override the focus of the furnishings
and artwork. The drapery treatments are unique in the four seasons
room. The fabric has a really large-scale print printed border on it
that we used to create the pattern on the valance. As it lays down the
side panel you can see it being used vertically and on the valance
horizontally. The fabric on the walls we used as the draw drape so
when those are drawn closed it’s a continuation of the wall
library is the main living and entertaining space in the condo.
The window scheme was altered to allow for more wall space to
hang artworks. A TV is hidden in the console. The fireplace
mantel is custom-carved marble.
the master bathroom, Koehnlein played with curves to create an
elegant space befitting the rest of the condo. The floor mosaic
reflects light as does the ceiling. The room also features his
and her water closets with separate entry to the shower.
wood floors and 15th century stained glass panels create a grand
setting in the billiards room. Beyond the windows is one of the
two enclosed terraces in the condo.