April 2011: Big deal


“Go step into that corner. That’s my favorite corner,” says Downtown homeowner Hank Wells. A favorite corner? “It sounds crazy, but you really can tell a difference between standing here [in the kitchen] and standing here [in the living room].”


It’s not surprising Wells has such an opinion about the 1,000-square-foot condo he shares with his girlfriend, Keicy Tolbert. He helped conceptualize the place five years ago, with Formwork architects Cecelia Hernandez and Robert Nichols. The smallest unit in the building, his soon-to-be home got a complete redesign when he decided to squeeze in an extra bed and bath. “I wanted to make the public spaces as big as possible and the private spaces as small as was manageable,” says Wells, the owner of Sam Hill Entertainment. He ended up with two 10’x12′ bedrooms and a larger kitchen/living room/dining room combo. In other words, a multipurpose space where Wells and Tolbert can cook, eat, work and entertain. Plus, the architects included many visual tricks to make the entire space seem bigger. From Wells’ favorite corner, for instance, visitors might notice the height difference between the open living room and the soffited kitchen.

Also in the kitchen, a large countertop angles just so, creating forced perspective to the end of the condo, where a frosted glass pane is backlit from the shower stall on the other side. “Our designer was working with a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ concept,” Wells says. Talk about bright ideas.


“Dan Zimmerman and Zach Snider at Alloy had helped me with a big wall for books and CDs at my Belmont loft. I feel very strongly that the TV shouldn’t just be out in the open, so they helped me with that here.

“I loved my studio apartment in the Michie building when I first moved Downtown, so I felt comfortable not closing off the walls to the bedroom, to maintain the openness and connectedness between the bedroom and the main space. So the bedroom wall doesn’t go to the ceiling, and when you’re standing in the living room, your eye reads the entire length of the apartment and not just to that wall.

“There didn’t used to be a door to this [guest] room. We got to know our guests very well.”