When Kim Radovich was tasked with designing the foyer in a historic Gold Coast mansion, she knew the entry needed to match the grandeur of its stunning spiral staircase. But it wasn’t until she stumbled across an antique treasure that she found her inspiration. While cleaning out a closet in the Mill Neck residence, the Huntington Bay-based designer discovered a solid silver leopard statuette. “I had it polished and put it in the window and it just all came together in this really impactful way. That’s what happens in design, you have a theme and then you reference one thing and another and it takes on a life of its own.”
The regal leopard influenced both the entry and the landing above. Its glamorous, vintage vibe set the tone for creating an eye-catching spot in the house that might otherwise be overlooked. “The Hollywood Regency feel was the jumping off point. And I thought, ‘let’s go there and let’s make a party.’”
First, Radovich needed to choose a runner for the staircase, a decision that required careful consideration of the stair’s spiral shape and the difficulty of cutting and matching a pattern on a curve. Given the source of inspiration, a black and white cheetah print seemed the perfect fit. The big cat’s spots were echoed again in the bold wallpaper by Clarke & Clarke. Though its red flowers are the focal point, the print also features black and white spotted butterflies. “It all sort of works together in a really quirky way.”
On the landing, Radovich created a small seating area to make better use of a forgotten space. Two antique Bergère chairs were accented with gold leaf, lacquered and reupholstered in black velvet to add to the eclectic feel. Grouped with a dramatic palm, a hide rug and a gray scale painting of Greta Garbo by local artist Nancy Kirk, the reading nook calls to mind Hollywood’s golden era. On the adjacent wall, a console table adorned with books and graphic pottery accompanies a gallery of black and white photographs. “I’m a big fan of dark and light and playing with positive and negative space, and I love the boldness of anything very dark against something very light.” All of these stark contrasts enhance the drama in the room.
For Radovich, one of the most exciting aspects of the project was restoring parts of this historic home while infusing a modern spin. “There’s just something wonderful about an old home; they have a life of their own. Yet in this day and age, we have to live in a modern world that functions differently than it once did. You have to be a little clever about it.” Subtle updates bring the staircase’s architectural details to life. Beneath each step, the original molding features tiny medallions that Radovich accented with gold leaf. The French casement windows above sport shiny black trim and gold hardware. These changes help modernize an otherwise traditional home. “That’s [one] way to make old things new again. A little tongue in cheek doesn’t hurt.”