A tech-forward, downtown apartment still invites serenity
Good things come to those who wait, and Kyle Nikola willingly put in his time. After relocating to Savannah in 2009 to begin his career in the funeral home profession, Nikola decided he wanted to put down roots in Savannah’s Historic District.
Discouraged after a lengthy apartment search and an unsuccessful auction bid, a developer friend showed Nikola a third-floor unit in a historic building on Whitaker Street. He excitedly snapped up the apartment and moved into the 20-unit building soon afterward. But after a visit to the sixth-floor pent-house apartment, Nikola knew that eventual ownership of his neighbors’ home was a fait accompli. Finally, in 2019, 10 years after that fateful visit to the top floor, the unit came up for sale, and Nikola sealed the deal.
The apartment was his, but its style was far from it. With a cluttered and chopped up kitchen, ‘90s fixtures everywhere, and layers of peeling paint masking wooden beams, the effect was more outdated throwback and less modern bachelor pad. Eager for an overhaul, the homeowner enlisted the help of Savannah designer Jon Peters, and the duo got to work.
Masculine, clean, sleek and clutter-free were Nikola’s demands. And with such an emotionally involved profession, Nikola “needed things to be minimal, so I could come home and decompress.” With these aims in mind, the year-long renovation started. Walls removed, appliances scrapped and beams exposed, Peters transformed the flow of the apartment, paying homage to the original architectural elements while creating the ultimate entertainment pad.
Now, Nikola has room for a billiards table, plasma screen televisions in every living space (and bathroom!) and an extensive sound system complete with speakers and subwoofers. “There are literally speakers in every room,” Nikola says. “They’re even in my closet.”
A tech enthusiast, Nikola also asked Peters to make his apartment a smart home. “I had to do a lot of research into smart switches and appliances to see how all this stuff worked,” Peters recalls. “It is definitely the most tech-forward project I’ve ever done.”
This research paid off by simplifying Nikola’s life (everything can be controlled with his cellphone) and enhancing his at-home hosting. Sonos speakers, which carry sound consistently throughout the entire space, white wine coolers and a chewy ice machine, with pieces “like the kind you get at Chick-fil-A,” are Nikola’s entertaining accessories of choice.
Fortunately, high design and high tech aren’t mutually exclusive. From the time Nikola walks through the elevator doors — the entrance to his penthouse — his apartment continues to wow.
In the kitchen, hardware and fixtures in black nickel, chrome and matte black offer an edgy contrast to brass. In the center of the room, a black-and-white, waterfall-edge peninsula makes a graphic statement while offering guests a place to perch between the kitchen and living area. Nikola’s favorite feature in his modern chef ’s kitchen, besides the chewy ice machine? “The microwave,” he says, laughing. “I don’t cook.”
So, instead of spending time in the kitchen, guests move between Nikola’s Restoration Hardware Cloud sofa and billiards table, watching a football game on one of the many televisions or playing a few rounds of pool.
The living spaces flow together with the help of a concise color palette of blues, warm wood tones and metallic finishes (Peters updated the existing fireplace, cladding it in metal). Furnishings and accessories from Arteriors mingle with pieces from more accessible retailers like HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx, lending a masculine-chic vibe without feeling precious.
These aesthetic choices are continued in the bedrooms, where simple, upholstered beds and linear credenzas sit atop rugs with abstract designs, adding interest without being overpowering.
In the bathrooms, tiles in white, gray and a variety of scales and shapes create an elegant visual contrast to the apartment’s color palette. The powder room and back hall offer a different kind of contrast, thanks to the abstract Phillip Jeffries vinyl wallcovering. Nikola trusted Peters with the bold print and, as the designer now says, “it’s one of my favorite elements in the whole apartment.”
Perched six floors above the street, another standout feature of Nikola’s apartment is just outside his windows. “I don’t think anyone else in Savannah has a view like this,” Peters says, motioning. Nikola’s master bedroom and living room face the gleaming, golden dome of City Hall, its reflection dancing on his apartment’s dark walls. Out another set of windows the Talmadge Memorial Bridge rises at the end of Oglethorpe Avenue.
Thrilled with a space that reflects his sense of style, Nikola is happily settled in his dream home, 10 years in the making. “Every morning I look out my windows and think, ‘I am the luckiest guy in the world.’”