Not so long ago, Paul and Kelly Clem lived in a typical suburban home in Johnson County. As the last of their three children neared the age of moving out, the couple decided they would move out, too.
“We made the decision to simplify life and be part of the urban revitalization,” says Paul, a real estate broker and developer.
After two years of due diligence spending weekends in different parts of the city to assess each neighborhood’s character, the Clems made a connection with the River Market for its accessibility, walkability and restaurants.
The couple downsized by half to move into a 3,000-square-foot condo, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a kitchen, dining, living and office space.
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“It was actually a relief to get down to just what we need,” Kelly says. “I never went up or downstairs at our house. I don’t need those other spaces; I can live like this.”
Conover Place, newly constructed in 2002, immediately drew the Clems with its high wood ceilings throughout, polished concrete floors, new mechanicals and underground garage. On Paul’s list was to have some type of outdoor living space. “Decks in the city are tough to find; we have two,” he says happily.
The couple gutted the unit and rebuilt it by moving walls and updating cabinetry and fixtures to reflect their vibrant personalities. The space matches the excitement they have for city living with bold and eclectic decor.
Black used on closet doors, cabinetry and countertops balances the light-filled space. It makes its most dramatic appearance on the south wall overlooking the city’s bustling highway.
“When that wall was painted white, your eye went to the wall and not the window. Painting it black takes your view to the outside,” Kelly says. “Seeing the cars and the city energizes me.”
Kelly had a vision for the decor as mostly neutral with pops of color in art and “the jewels,” like pillows.
“We spent an inordinate amount of time working on the details,” Paul adds. “That’s what differentiates a place.”
Although Kelly says their former house furnishings leaned left toward transitional, only a handful of them made the move downtown. The couple started over to create a luxe look, working with local designers to find unique pieces, including several lamps by Barbara Cosgrove and artworks by Eric Sall.
“It’s all visual for me,” Kelly says. “All the fabrics have texture and dimension.”
Paul praises his wife’s design choices. “I think I have a good eye, but she missed her calling as an interior designer!” he says.
The couple continue to tweak the space and soon will be reupholstering the dining chairs in teal and animal print, as well as installing metallic-painted wall tiles in Kelly’s office.
Since the Clems moved in March 2017, condo living and city life have exceeded their expectations.
“We don’t have a crystal ball, but we’ve both said they’re going to have to take us out of here toes up,” Paul says.