Walk down East Main Street in Louisville and you will notice a beautiful church on the corner of Main and Shelby streets. It’s no longer a working church and is currently being used for commercial and residential space following a $3 million renovation. Three apartments and an event space can be found inside the beautiful Gothic Marcus Lindsey United Methodist Church at 801 Main St. The largest of the apartments, located in the back portion of the old church, is a stunning three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath space with a large great room and a large sunken kitchen. It is a modern oasis inside a 127-year-old building.
It is this space that Speed Art Museum Director Ghislain d’Humieres decided to call home when he moved here almost two years ago. After looking for three months, he found that this Gothic-meets-modern space was the perfect fit for him. It was a few blocks from Local Speed, where he will work until the renovated Speed Art Museum opens next year. It was located in a diverse and cultured neighborhood. It had enough space to entertain large or small groups. His former home in Oklahoma City, the site of Ghislain’s (pronounced with a hard “g” as “Gee-lawn”) last job, was a house by Bruce Goff, an architect who even Frank Lloyd Wright complimented as being “creative.” So the typical, traditional home was not on his radar.
He enlisted the help of internationally renowned interior designer Nicolas Raubertas, owner of Privat Design, to turn this new home into a welcoming abode. The energy of this home mirrored the energy Ghislain has for the renovation of the Speed; it is welcoming to all, offering culture and an experience to its guests. Nicolas was able to incorporate all the elements of Ghislain’s extensive art and furniture collection, along with modern elements of decor, to achieve this goal. This home is a curated personal museum within a sacred space.
Sit back and enjoy this home as you would enjoy walking through a museum. Click on all the applicable links of the artists and furniture to learn more about each one. Art is all about the experience, and we can guarantee you will have a good one touring this home.
You enter the home from the street level and walk up a flight of stairs into the grand great room, which is more than 60 feet long. This is an incredibly vast room, and Nicolas has broken the large daunting space into individual vignettes. The floor is stained concrete, which is dark and shiny, though not cold, as one would assume, as there is radiant heat emanating from underneath the floors. Hides and afghans act as rugs to break up the space and to add texture. The centerpiece of the room is a large window, originally the back of the church, surrounded by smaller, arched windows lining all sides of the building. The windowpanes are new, but the brick framing structure is original. Natural light floods the space, with the reaches of that light extending throughout the entire apartment. Though the painted walls are light colored, there are dark, exposed brick walls and dark flooring, none of which seems heavy or dreary with the element of light flowing in.
As you let your eye wander around the room, you register the pockets of created space. Some spaces lend themselves to solitude. Some lend themselves to chatting. Others to eating or sitting at a table. But there are numerous functions assigned to each space and each piece of furniture.
After a survey of the entire area, you begin to notice the individual pieces of art and decor. Some seem so neutral and benign, while others cry out for your attention. It is here that you not only notice the art and the collectibles, but begin to see the variance of textures that all enhance the art and furniture collection.
White and dark brown colors dominate this room. White leather couches, coupled with a white, hide-upholstered bench, add to the warmth and inviting nature of this vignette. Picture yourself sitting, reclining and chatting with friends here in comfort.
As you begin to notice all of the furniture, you realize that it is art, as well. Case in point: the original Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, made of rosewood and leather and originally owned by famed Hollywood filmmaker Billy Wilder (his credits include Sunset Boulevard). The chair is in perfect condition and fits the body like a glove. To most guests, this is a nice place to sit and kick your feet up. To others, they would pay money to see this at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, where an example is in its permanent collection.
Leather furniture is a companion to the hides and afghans, and it is unique and exquisite. These brown leather sofas are Swiss from the 1970s, made by the exclusive leather furniture company de Sede. So coveted, this sofa was once bid on by Mick Jagger. Also notice the modern leather chairs opposite the sofas, complementing, yet not competing with, the grandeur of the sofas.
The rug in this area is made from black Mongolian sheepskin, custom designed by Nicolas. It is a massive rug, at 16’x 28,’ but it is not made in one piece. It separates out into six different sections, so that it can be scattered throughout a large room and also making it easier to move and transport.
The south side of the apartment faces Main Street, with the original window architecture still intact. The furniture is geometric and modern in this nook, but the art is folk or religious. It is the blending of all the personal items of Ghislain’s collection with the cleaner lines of the furniture that makes the space feel not like a museum and more like a home.
This table pictured below is captivating for so many reasons. First, it was designed by the famed architect Zaha Hadid, who in addition to designing this table, also designed the futuristic BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany. This black, lacquer table is part of her Liquid Glacial collection, where the legs of the table are fluid, seemingly pouring down out of the top of the table.
The real headliner of the main floor is not the furniture, the rugs or the art. It’s the fish. There is a stunning water feature running the length of the great room that is home to several large koi. It is like a manmade creek running through the house. The fish are true pets, each one with a different personality. There are bridges to access the guest bedroom and the office from the main floor in order to cross over the water.
Over the bridge is a cozy guest bedroom with an exposed brick wall and arched architecture. The bedroom looks out onto the great room with just a single-pane plate of glass. Again, there are many textures in this room, from the hides on the bed to the black Mongolian sheepskin rug. Art hangs salon style along the entire expanse of the south wall, all in simple frames and all different subjects and mediums, but cohesive in its presentation.
The guest bedroom has an adjacent jack-and-jill bathroom that connects to the office. This is listed as another bedroom and has the same architectural features as the guest room. Ghislain uses this as his office and displays his most personal art collection in here. Most notable is the painting of a woman in the black hat, which is a portrait of his great aunt by famous French painter James Tissot.
Though there is a sense of symmetry throughout the apartment, the kitchen placement is asymmetrical. It is sunken down to street level, a floor below the main living room, but open with exposed rafters and an open stairwell. This room is a hub of activity, as Ghislain likes to cook and entertain here. There is a large cooking area and an expansive table, with room to serve many guests. While there is a small table upstairs where guests can eat, there is no formal dining room. The kitchen is where the cooking and eating happen.
Look above to the light fixture known simply as 85 Lamps by Droog. It is the most basic of lights, with 85 bulbs, wires and connectors, but with a maximum impact aesthetically. Then turn your gaze downward to the beautiful triptych by Louisville artist Shohei Katayama. This piece is made with blue paint and a white Sharpie marker. This is Ghislain’s most recent purchase and current favorite piece.
The bedroom is another symmetrical space, located on the top floor of the apartment. Like the kitchen, it opens up on one wall to the living room below with beautiful exposed beams. The master bedroom has two closets, a bathroom, dressing space and a sleeping area, all in a loft-like setting. A wood wall separates the bedroom from the dressing room and bathroom and creates a cozy nook. There are exposed beams on either side of the bed, and one wall has frosted glass behind the beams, while the other side opens up to the downstairs great room.
This home has achieved a brilliant balance of mixing old with new, both with the architecture and the furnishings inside. It is a wonderful showcase of a personal art collection and the stories behind all of those pieces. Like a museum, this home offers a way to experience culture and art your way and on your own terms, all the while falling in love with it.
To learn more about Nicolas Raubertas, visit his website here at Privat Design.
To learn more about the Speed Art Museum, which re-opens on March 12, 2016, click here.
Photography by Adele Reding Photography
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