Rob Lewis immediately fell for the downtown lifestyle after moving to Oklahoma City from Corpus Christi, TX two years ago. He lived at the Sieber Hotel for a year-and-a-half until moving into his new renovated home.
When it was time to purchase a home, Lewis looked at both old and new houses and condominiums. Ready to take on a project, he settled on a lofty space with a storefront view of Hudson Avenue, a unique building full of possibilities in Midtown. Some may remember the two-story red brick building just west of the Federal Building; it was the long-time home of Allen’s Café. Built in 1928, the building was originally used as a plumbing supply store.
Midtown was definitely his first choice. “I like the Midtown area because it’s so easy to walk to restaurants and shops and it seems entertainment literally comes to you,” says Lewis.
Marva Ellard, the owner of the Sieber Hotel and an urban developer, helped Lewis locate his new home near and also served as his general contractor on the renovation.
Rob started the design process with Ellard and his cousin, Walter Antin III, a Parsons School of Design and Harvard Architecture graduate based in New Orleans. The building was originally designed for two living spaces with the owner on the ground floor and a second living space on the second floor. Both spaces are approximately 1,500 square feet.
Ellard’s experience with historic buildings was instrumental in restoring the unique features of this building, especially the storefront. While some of the original material remained, tremendous care was taken to restore the front façade.
Working with his cousin, they decided to remove all the interior walls and just start from scratch. “We started out with an empty palate, a large brick rectangle with 15 foot ceilings” he laughs. Like most lovers of modern spaces, the idea of a separate dining room seemed like a waste of space to Lewis. “I like the big space for entertaining. It’s totally open and inviting now. When you cook in my kitchen, you’re looking out onto Hudson Avenue and Oklahoma City.”
Jo Meacham, owner of Urban Kitchens, and designer Michale Stapleton created a kitchen that was both modern and functional. Lewis knew he wanted a modern feel for the interior and says he got a lot of functional ideas for the kitchen from his brother’s condo in Washington D.C.. He was also sensitive to the age of the building he had chosen. “Regardless of the modern touches we added inside, you are never unaware that you are standing inside a nearly 100 year old building,” he says.
The upper kitchen cabinets are hinged and fold up, unlike traditional cabinets which open outwards. This allows for larger cabinets in a smaller space. Each appliance was carefully selected and strategically placed to insure that the function and flow of the kitchen was easy and accessible.
Bamboo was chosen as the material for the bathroom cabinets. The under-cabinet lighting gives the cabinets the impression of floating above the tile floor. Behind the vanity, the original glass block window was used to create a focal point with an area for green plants, softening the modern edge of the room.
Stapleton worked closely with Lewis in completing the interior design and finishes for both the upper and lower spaces of the building. The original concrete floors remain with only a polish to make them shine. The original red brick walls remain in place and sheetrock walls were used to create interior rooms.
One of the special features of the home includes an original walk in vault located on the ground floor beneath the stairs to the second floor. “Being that we started with a completely empty space I didn’t want to fall into the trap common to most downtown lofts where useful closets are few and far between. Useful and smart storage space has been a very high consideration throughout the design process and this is evident with the enormous master bedroom closets in both units.”
Rob Lewis is now the proud owner of a loft with an amazing storefront view of downtown Oklahoma City, and says he couldn’t be happier with the results. His property also has some room for new construction. The possibilities are endless.
“A lot of my friends live in Edmond and they want me to visit them there, but there is just so much to do literally right outside my front door,” says Lewis. “Hudson is a great corridor through downtown and midtown—the Myriad Gardens, library, Civic Center, museum, restaurants—all within a few blocks. I’m just waiting for a grocery store.”
A grocery store. Now, that’s a great idea.
The upstairs unit will be a two bedroom two bath 1500 square foot unit available for rent in December 2012. For details please contact Rob at RCQLEWIS@GMAIL.COMShare story on Facebook Share story on Twitter Email a Friend.