When Sean Cowan’s parents wanted to move out of their turn-of-the-century Victorian to something different, but still incorporate some of their old furnishings, it seemed natural they would contact their son.
An interior designer, Sean Cowan works with clients in New York and Chicago from his Chicago offices. Since he knew what the home he grew up in looked like, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to handle a lot of the Springfield renovations from Chicago.
His parents, Kevin and Sandy Cowan, moved to a modern townhouse in the Old Hickory Subdivision on the Rail. Their Mashie Court two-story townhouse has a stunning view of the golf course perched on a slight land rise between the 11th and 12th holes.
The overall color palette is grays and wood tones, but it doesn’t come off as somber and dark. The effect is dramatic and crisp, but still warm and inviting. Some of the furnishings could be considered almost industrial, but mixing them with wood tones and inviting accessories makes the rooms welcoming — not sterile.
The living room walls are a soft gray, offset with crisp lines of crown molding and the floors are graphite stained oak. A light gray rug anchors a cozy but elegant conversational area near the fireplace in the living room. A huge mirror opens up the hallway that runs from the front foyer to the master suite.
The kitchen is European industrial chic. The graphite-stained oak floors flow into charcoal and white checkerboard tile floors that delineate the kitchen and a small informal dining area. Sean Cowan said the tile is done in a matte finish as are the countertops for a look of subdued elegance.
The color scheme both ties the house together but also sets off separate areas. Stainless steel appliances, matching cabinet hardware and gray countertops as well a unique window treatments make the kitchen a gourmet oasis.
Cabinets are cherry and chocolate which puts them in the same color range as the grays. The informal dining area looks out to a deck and the golf course and features modern white chairs around an almost austere-looking kitchen table.
The formal dining room has a vintage dining suite that Sandy Cowan wanted to keep. Surrounded by walls several shades darker than the living room, it is elegant and looks comfortable in the more modern décor. Burnt orange upholstery on the chairs is an interesting accent especially set off with the gorgeous orange flower arrangements on the formal dining room table.
The guest bath features whimsical floral wallpaper with an art deco mirror.
The master bedroom features the couples’ traditional bedroom set, but with Sean Cowan’s use of gray cashmere on the walls with green and blue accent pieces, the traditional look is contemporary and fresh. The master bath has twin pedestal sinks instead of a large vanity, something Sandy Cowan wanted in her new home as well as wainscotings, which she also wanted. It works in the bathroom, making it seem like the whole master suite is a snapshot of an interfacing style.
The stairway to the lower level is a work of art in itself. The iron balusters are custom designed and the treads are dark while the risers are white setting the whole area off. Instead of a boring staircase trying to blend in — it is a contemporary architectural feature.
Guest rooms and an office are on the lower level as well as a richly appointed modern media room. The bar and wine cellar area look like an upscale bistro from a fine European hotel. The bar and contemporary glass storage areas are striking and the wine cellar is tucked under the front stoop. Most builders make that a dead space area, but Sean Cowan closed it off and it is perfect for storing the couple’s wines.
The house has numerous other interesting features that Sean Cowan put in for his parents enjoyment. The house is its own Wi-Fi network, there is surround sound throughout and the specialized lighting can be adjusted throughout the house for the perfect party. Cowan said his mother has a list of all the dimmer settings for different party moods.
Story published Friday, May 7, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 3 )