he thought of moving from a 5,400-square-foot Lakewood South home on a large lot to a 3,400-square-foot condo in a modern high-rise might seem a bit daunting to some –– but not to Marcy and Mike Gertler. After their three children (now aged 27 to 39) left home, the Gertlers, who have been married for 41 years, decided their elegant home was way too big. It was time to downsize, and –– more important –– it was time for Marcy to once again exercise her lifelong natural design skills.
“This condo was a blank space when we started,” Marcy says. “The only thing we had to do was design around the plumbing and mechanical chases. I wanted it to be warm and inviting like a home.”
With architect Steve Quarls of The Hopkins Co., Marcy set out on a design odyssey. Because their home sold quickly, the Gertlers had to move into temporary digs while the condo was being built and designed. In fact, they moved twice between selling their home and finally settling into the condo. The journey would include the late Debbie Finestone, an Atlanta decorator and Marcy’s childhood friend, as well as continuing input from Marcy’s daughter, Danielle Weintraub, who happens to be an architect.
“This was a true collaboration of so many family and friends,” Marcy says.
Marcy says Gerrie Bremermann has been the foundation for all of her design decisions over the years. Bremermann adapted the furnishings from the Gertlers’ previous home to fit their new spaces. Leah Richardson, a designer and friend of the Gertlers who recently moved to New Orleans from Florida, brought a fresh pair of eyes to the mix and rearranged some of the Gertlers’ existing pieces for an updated look.
“I definitely did not do this alone,” Marcy says.
The result of the group labor of love is a space that “moves well,” as some designers like to say. The flow from the front door throughout the home is easy and spacious. And along the way, there are fascinating stops that show true attention to detail and an understanding of the balance between aesthetics and comfort. If there is one area in which the Gertler home truly excels, it is comfort. Even the most elegant and distinctive pieces, such as the early-19th-century French Provincial carved pine wedding armoire that is a living room focal point, are really all about family and function. Behind the armoire’s doors, the piece is filled top to bottom with toys for the Gertlers’ four grandchildren. Two chairs adjacent to that piece are Marcy’s mother’s needlepoint chairs that have been outfitted with handsome new slipcovers. The coffee table is really a picnic table. Everything in this house is built or designed for family living, and every inch of the place is lived in.
The round dining table from Bremermann Designs is made of old wood and set under an oversize Noguchi paper chandelier. The cabinet above the fireplace in the same room opens to reveal a large flat-screen television and a switch that instantly lights the fireplace. Nearby is a 19th-century French Renaissance carved oak buffet. A contemporary sofa and artistic renderings of the family by Catherine “Muffin” Mayer are further evidence of the homey spirit that permeates every room. Your eyes are drawn to the stunning English walnut six-drawer chest, circa 1760, but it is easy to picture the whole clan gathering on the sofa in front of the fireplace, watching TV.
Through garden-gate wooden doors from Wirthmore Antiques off the living room is the cozy wood-paneled study. The paneling is made of 12-inch old pine boards. Old wood adds a sense of timelessness to other spaces, as well. In the modern kitchen outfitted with top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances, the ceiling is made of old boards and beams.
No matter what was designed, though, this home had built-in aesthetics: One side features massive windows facing the lake and marina while the other side offers eye-popping views of the city and skyline. That side includes a spacious guest room and the elegantly appointed master bedroom suite, including two full bathrooms –– his and hers. His is done in a black-and-white motif and features a huge photo called The Client, by photographer Diane Garcia. The marble in Mike’s master bath is from Ann Sacks in Atlanta, as are the glass tiles in the guest bath. Marcy’s bathroom features a comfy oversize tub and an artisan sink from Waterworks in New York. Best of all, there are his-and-hers walk-in closets. Mike’s closet, which boasts a built-in window seat, is so comfortable that he actually uses it as his quiet space for reading and napping. Marcy’s features a “secret door” that leads right back into the study.
Every room tells its own story –– even the powder room that was fully re-created from the one in the Gertlers’ Lakewood South home. Standout features include Mario Villa faucets in the shape of women’s heads and brown silk wallpaper. A Louis XVI carved gilt wood mirror completes the décor.
Lest anyone believe condo living is confining, the 20-by-20-foot terrace overlooking the marina and the lake should calm those thoughts.
“This has been something that I’ve thought about for a long time,” Marcy says. “Even when we were in our big house for 10 years, I was acquiring things and tearing out pictures from magazines that appealed to me. That was our dream house, designed by our dear friend George Hopkins, but it was lonely with the kids gone. This is the ideal space for us, and the fact that it has a fitness room in the building, a front desk attendant and delightful people living throughout just adds to its appeal. This is it. We’re staying here for the long run.”