When Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Cliff Lee signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, he and his wife, Kristin, went in search of a pied-à-terre that they would use during baseball season for their family. The couple, who live primarily in Arkansas, found a “white box” condo in Rittenhouse Square with panoramic views of the city. “There was some tile and marble,” Kristin recalls, “but we just got rid of it all and started with a clean slate.”
To turn the full-floor condo into a home away from home for the family, Kristin turned to Little Rock-based designer Kevin A. Walsh, who was already working on the Lees’ year-round Arkansas home. “I’d seen a couple of houses he had done, but when I walked into his showroom, I immediately knew that was what I wanted the apartment to look like,” Kristin says. Walsh says the result—neutral tones overlaid with punches of color—reflects the homeowners’ tastes, but also the signature style (“transitional, young, light and sophisticated”) of his firm.
“My husband and I wanted it to be different from what we already had,” Kristin states. “We wanted it to feel like we lived in the city…elegant, chic and pretty.” With the Lees’ aesthetic wish list in place, the primary design concept was set to maintain unobstructed sight lines of the views from the condo’s floor-to-ceiling windows. In the roughly 19-by-32-foot living room, Walsh recommended a low furniture profile, including a white chaise perpendicular to the marble fireplace—the room’s secondary focal point—finished with an abstract oil by Atlanta artist Sally King Benedict.
“When you walk into a space that has a spectacular view, you don’t want to obstruct it with a lot of information,” he says. “Wherever you’re seated in the room, you can admire the skyline.”
In a departure from the airy feel of the main living space, the media room, with its deep chocolate velvet sectional and geometric rug, introduces a darker, moodier palette. When Cliff arrives home from a game, he likes to nestle into that space and watch television with his children.
The lady of the house admits, somewhat sheepishly, that the high-end chef’s kitchen is seldom used. The restaurants of Rittenhouse Square are too convenient. Occasionally, a chef comes in and prepares a family meal, though a formal dining room isn’t found anywhere in the condo. The Lees eliminated the customary space in favor of a billiards room, and Walsh set up several casual spots throughout to dine. “We’re not formal people at all,” Kristin says. “We want everyone who visits to feel at home.” The apartment’s serene yet glamorous décor continues into the master bedroom. While maintaining the neutral palette, Walsh combined dark wood and painted furniture. Color makes a dramatic entrance with a magenta side chair. A mirrored dressing table and a starburst mirror—Walsh calls it “a little piece of jewelry”—provide a hint of Versailles.
“My bedroom is a dream come true,” Kristin says. “It makes me feel like a bit of a princess.” Both Lee and Walsh insist that, despite the light colors, the apartment is indeed family-friendly. “There’s nothing too precious,” Walsh says. “Even the white chaise is leather, which is very durable.” Adds Kristin, “We sit on the sofas; I use the living room for a workout area; we fall asleep on that chaise.”
Like baseball—clearly, a favorite pastime of the Lees—collaborative design takes teamwork. “He helps me to succeed,” Lee says of Walsh, “He knows what I like; I know what I like. We know what each other is thinking. We have fun together.”