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Arts & Entertainment

Urban Chic

| Friday, June 11, 2010

Tucked a few blocks away from East Carson Street, both close enough to the action to indulge in it and far away enough to avoid it, sits the South Side Lofts, housed in what was once known as the Duquesne Brewery and where Karen Peter, vice president and general manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, has created a chic urban utopia within a decidedly industrial aesthetic.

"I didn't have a set guideline when it came to decorating," Peter says. "It's more of what I like. The furniture itself is pretty basic, but over-accessorized. It's similar to how I dress; I'm not one who is shy about putting on a lot of jewelry. There are classic pieces and quirky pieces mixed together."

Sticking to a palate of monochromatic elegance, the open space is brought alive by bright accents. Fresh pops of color include book spines in playful oranges, pinks, greens and blues, a vivid collection of fiery-cased glass, and shiny silver skull figurines that hold their own against an invigorating Warhol blue accent wall.

"Someone actually suggested I repaint that wall a stone-beige color," she mused, shaking her head.

One of the most endearing features of her nearly 2,000-square-foot loft is the perfect juxtaposition of very masculine, strong edges and the presence of urbanely hip and modern femme touches. Exposed steel beams, ventilation, piping (also hued in Warhol blue), and painted concrete floors are distinctly softened by sequined accent pillows, Lucite chairs, plush area rugs and framed artwork.

Foregoing a formal dining area in favor of a more relaxed atmosphere where friends can enjoy cocktail parties rather than five-course meals, the kitchen melts effortlessly into a lounge area that begs to be enjoyed with a martini in hand.

Having christened the downstairs with a "contemporary Baroque" theme, carried out by the black patent-leather regency chairs and zigzagged ottoman from designer Jonathan Adler, a swirling candelabra and straightforward geometrical shapes, the bedroom loft is a continuation of edgy chic, but it thrives on a slightly more glam, more delicate tone. An intricate collection of bug figurines, paper-doll sketches of Karen and her memorable ensembles and breezy lighting add the perfect dose of personality.

Embracing the mantra from Thomas Fuller that "Good clothes open all doors," it's no surprise to walk into an impeccably organized closet that is head to toe in couture, where the residents include (brace yourselves, fashionistas) pairs of Blahniks, Chanels, Louboutins, Guccis, Choos, Diors and Vuittons, and a whimsical collection of colorful Alexander McQueen skull scarves.

"Five and a half years ago, when I was looking at units in this building, I had nicknamed this one 'The Blue Loft.' My agent didn't really know my personality and tried to talk me into another unit that was more 'shabby chic'. I thought, 'Oh, no, no, no'. As soon as we walked into this one, I thought, 'This is a good place. ... I love this place!'"

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