A West Coast couple creates unexpected luxury in Center City, Allentown.
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Rich warm tones and earthy accents help balance the coolness of concrete floors throughout the home.
The Best-Kept Secret in Allentown
She wasn’t the only one to see it that way. For most of its 80-year history, the 1930s-era building served as offices for the Mayflower Moving Company and as a distribution center for a magazine publisher. It wasn’t until 2008 that New Jersey-based architect Nicholas Tricarico purchased the property with the intention of transforming it into SoHo-style lofts. He divided up the massive space on the lower three floors, creating five luxury apartments on each, crowned by the sprawling 3,400-square-foot penthouse. His grand vision, coupled with an appreciation for the architecture of the Palace of Versailles in Europe, led him to dub the restored building Versailles At Eighth.
“This is probably the best-kept secret in Allentown,” says Ken Palumbo of the Frederick Group, the property’s listing agency. Each of the apartments enjoys an open floor plan, high ceilings and polished concrete floors, and share use of a common atrium, lobby and parking garage (a rare treasure, as any city dweller will tell you).
Still, Palumbo was initially concerned that despite all the aesthetic benefits, the lack of bedroom doors on the spacious, whitewashed rooms might be a turnoff to potentials tenants. After all, he acknowledges, “This is not typical family-style living.” He convinced Tricarico to hire Shoshana Gosselin, a Lehigh Valley-based interior designer. A unified color scheme for the hallways and common areas broke up the endless expanses of white-on-white and made the place seem less like a massive shoebox and more like a home.
Palumbo needn’t have worried, though, at least as far as the penthouse was concerned. The Conrads’ two children were both away at college, and even without interior doors, the open floor plan still affords plenty of privacy during their occasional guest visits thanks to the shotgun-style layout of the four bedrooms beyond the main living space.
The white walls were another matter. Immediately following the Conrads’ July 2012 move-in date, Kim hired Gosselin for a two-hour consultation. “I picked out the colors, and she told me what walls to put them on,” Kim says. Though the home’s modern bones and polished concrete might seem to call for cool or neutral shades, Kim naturally gravitated to the kind of earthy tones she’d had in her two previous homes. Besides warming the large, open space—which took close to 24 gallons of paint to cover—the result meshed nicely with the exposed brick as well as furniture and artwork the Conrads had brought with them from the West Coast.
That one-time consultation would be all the interior design help Kim would need. She started planning the second she saw the listing photos, and even with a deadline imposed when the Old Allentown Preservation Association asked the Conrads to be on their 2012 tour that November, she never slowed her pace. “After we moved in, we spent one week living with just mattresses and lawn chairs and I was dying to get started,” she recalls.