Personal Space: David Blakely and Mike Wetle

A touch of modernism makes this historic property an elegant retreat for this Central West End couple.

 

When you have an historic home, its hard to tread the line between doing your own thing and staying true to the legacy of the house, but David Blakely and Mike Wetle have achieved this balance with their grand Central West End space. Designed by renowned architect George Hellmuth, the house was built by Craig-Taylor Company for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Massee and completed in 1915. Second owner Francis E. Fowler Jr. was the creator of Southern Comfort; legend has it he cooked up batches of his famous brew in the basement. With a pedigree like that, respecting the space was paramount. “We really feel like caretakers in a way,” Mike says.

Authentic turn-of-the-century details are everywhere. Most of the rooms boast original radiators and millwork. The carved mantle and marble fireplace from 1915 remain the centerpiece of the first-floor living room. Hand-made glass still stands in some of the windows, and the beautifully detailed stained glass windows on the second-floor landing continue to set off the main staircase.
“Weve definitely respected the integrity of the house,” David says.

But they also did a lot of work after moving in five years ago to bring the house up-to-date. As a new product creation advisor, Mike travels frequently, so David spear-headed the house project, which took the better part of a year. It included replacing about half of the plumbing and “taking up about 100 years of flooring in the kitchen,” Mike says.

They then added modern features and imbued the space with their personal style. The kitchen now features cherry cabinets handmade by Davids father, and top-of-the-line appliances by Subzero and Viking. White walls, recessed can lighting and minimal window treatments add to the modern vibe of the main floor and accentuate the huge ceilings and phenomenal light that grace the home. Prints by Bernar Venet, Robert Motherwell, Donald Sultan and Helen Frankenthaler lend the space a post-modern feel. David says he and Mike had a good sense of the big picture when designing the interior, but needed some help with the details. As general manager of Niche Furnishings Downtown, though, David definitely knew where to go for assistance. Like so many home rehab projects, this one is ongoing. Future plans include a home theater and office space on the third floor, and maybe even a kitchenette for guests.

 

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David Blakely and Mike Wetle

The couple in their historic home

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David Blakely and Mike Wetle’s Personal Space

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David Blakely and Mike Wetle’s Personal Space

Modern features lend a postmodern feel

 

Photo credit: Photography by Jennifer Silverberg

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