Modern Elegance

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Written by Judi Russell
Photos by Farshid Assassi and Duane Tinkey

When Josh Garrett and Kevin Schnell relocated to Des Moines from Chicago eight years ago, they planned to build a house and try out the suburban scene. In the meantime, they rented a downtown condominium. As sometimes happens, the longer the two enjoyed city life, the less interested they became in the suburbs. About 18 months ago, they took the plunge, buying a condominium in the Liberty Building on Sixth Avenue, adjacent to the Hyatt Place Des Moines.

Their ninth-floor condo came with views, but the interior layout and décor were underwhelming, say Garrett, an owner of Jett and Monkey Dog Shoppe, and Schnell, a business consultant who travels part of every week. With the design mantra of “midcentury modern” in mind, they hired Kelli Linnemeyer and her team at Projects Contemporary Furniture to bring a stylish, contemporary feel to what had been a humdrum home. Assisted by McClure Remodeling and Ames architect Peter Goché, Projects turned the unit into a calm, uncluttered refuge.

Dining Room 
When Josh Garrett and Kevin Schnell entertain, guests gathered around their dining room table (top photo) can enjoy either floor-to-ceiling views of downtown Des Moines or the condominium’s sleek kitchen. A few carefully selected ornaments on the Poliform shelving unit between the dining room and office add color, while the Bocci pendant chandelier draws the eye upward. In daytime, the glass globes glisten with reflected sunlight, while at night, they lend a dramatic look to dinner parties.

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Glossy Surfaces
The Poliform-Varenna “Alea” kitchen pairs white glossy lacquered surfaces with cabinet doors finished with Spessart oak. The absence of door and drawer pulls and electrical outlets adds to the kitchen’s contemporary appearance; a column that can pop up out of the countertop provides outlets when needed. Matching the modern mood are the touch-control electric cooktop and Artemide recessed lighting. Schnell and Garrett say the hardest-working feature in the kitchen is the built-in coffee system atop the double oven.

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Midcentury Modern
The flow from dining room to living area is unobstructed. A wooden wall unit holds decorative items and books, along with a flat-screen television; unsightly wires and cords are hidden. The gray sectional sofa and low, rectangular coffee table, both by Minotti, are favorites of Schnell’s, who is drawn to all things midcentury modern. A shaggy rug warms up the terrazzo floor.

The combination of linen drapes and sheers allows Garrett and Schnell to create as much–or as little–privacy as they want. Behind the curtains are a small balcony and a view of the nearby Ruan Center. For Garrett, the views of downtown afforded by the unit’s many large windows were a major reason to choose the Liberty Building as home base.

Throughout the condo, the absence of baseboards and other decorative trim reinforces the unfussy feeling. New terrazo floors make for easy upkeep.

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Quiet Refuge
Schnell, who travels regularly on business, works from this home office on Fridays. The sunburst wall ornament was designed by George Nelson. Schnell and Garrett found the large collage dominating the wall behind the desk at the Des Moines Arts Festival; its pattern is based on the famous Chicago Loop and harks back to their former hometown. After speeding through airports all week, Schnell finds working in his quiet, uncluttered home office a relief.

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Pops of Color
Resident dachshunds Jett and Louie perch on a modern chair in the unit’s entryway. Garrett and Schnell wanted a piece by Omaha artist Thomas Prinz for the foyer but couldn’t find one with the colors they preferred, so Prinz created this work for them.

Storage isn’t a problem in this condo. The foyer sideboard, made by Poliform and finished in the same Spessart oak as the kitchen cabinets, has roomy cabinets and drawers. Off the foyer are a guest bedroom with a full bath and plenty of closets (as well as a spot for Frisky, the couple’s cat). The unit comes with extra storage space on the same floor.

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