Tongue in Chic
Downtown condo dwellers create a sanctuary for their amusing art collection, showcasing their sense of humor and personal tastes.
Any casual observer given a chance to explore the downtown condo of Ted Maines and Jeff Miller could easily draw an accurate portrait of the pair. A quick look at the well-appointed kitchen would reveal a love of cooking, while a glance at the sleekly modern living and dining areas would confirm that Maines and Miller prefer to entertain in style.
But it’s the art collection that speaks volumes about them, their interests and their make-you-squirm sense of humor. Iconic Warhols and ironic pieces by Ed Ruscha and Jane Hammond decorate the walls. Such attention-grabbing objects as the “Buildings of Disaster” series by Constantin and Laurene Boym adorn chests and tables throughout the home.
And then there’s the “Happiness Is a Hot Gun” table lamp by Philippe Starck. An original work of art signed by the renowned designer, the lamp is made to resemble a gold-leafed AK-47, and the inside of the shade is festooned with tiny crosses to represent lives lost to gun violence. On the wall above the gun lamp are several edgy works of art, including one that depicts Bonnie and Clyde, and another of the couple’s many signed Andy Warhol prints, “Jackie 2,” his
interpretation of one of the historic photos taken of Jacqueline Kennedy at JFK’s funeral. “What I love about this work is the rage you can see in her eyes,” says Maines. Acknowledging the overall tableau of thought-provoking and emotion-evoking art, he adds with a chuckle, “There’s a dark undercurrent in our collection; we’ve cornered the market on morose.”
But the effect isn’t really morose; it’s grimly amusing, the kind of black humor that appeals to many, including Maines and Miller. Next to the aforementioned “Disaster” series of small sculptures representing notorious buildings, including the Texas School Book Depository and Three Mile Island, is a glow-in-the-dark, cigarette-smoking bunny and a silver-plated piggy bank.
Style Makes a Statement
Thought-provoking, whimsical and bitingly funny pieces can be found in every room of this stylish fifth-floor
condominium in The Sanctuary building near downtown’s Thornton Park. Not even the bathrooms are immune: in the marble-and-chrome master bath, a chest festooned with larger-than- life, Italian-speaking cartoon characters serves as storage for towels. Maines says inspiration for the opulent, Art Deco-influenced bath came from the Manhattan prewar apartments that impressed him as a child. “What I wanted here was ‘1940s Park Avenue bathroom.’ ”
Beauty also reigns in the expansive master bedroom. Here, rich shades of brown ranging from taupe to espresso create a sumptuous and warm atmosphere. Two-toned silken draperies soften one wall, and a chocolate-hued sofa at the foot of the bed provides a comfortable resting place to read a book or watch television (as well as a favorite napping spot for the couple’s 8-year-old pug, Mr. Big). Above the bed, forming a secondary headboard of sorts, is a line of Warhols from the artist’s “Flash” series depicting the Kennedy assassination.
Modular furniture from USM, a high-end Swiss company, provides subtle and sophisticated storage in the room. “We really wanted the furniture to be neutral and not compete with the art,” says Maines of the understated furnishings in the master suite and elsewhere in the condo.
Also in the bedroom is the one piece of art that the couple disagree on. Chosen by Miller, “Born” by Kiki Smith is an enormous portrait depicting “Little Red Riding Hood” and her grandmother, with the wolf that had ingested them dead at their feet. “It’s on my side of the bed, so I have to wake up every morning to that,” says Maines with a shudder.
While the private areas of the home are beautifully furnished and accented with remarkable art, the public spaces really wow visitors. The highly polished terrazzo floors from Bisazza of Italy sparkle with bits of the company’s trademark glass, creating an elegant foundation for the open space that
encompasses both the living and dining areas. The dining space is defined by the dramatic Swarovski crystal chandelier that hangs above the contemporary table; the living area is set apart by Starck’s “Superarchimoon” floor lamp, a gargantuan version of a classic desk lamp. Here, a soft-leather sectional frames a fluffy shag rug, and more modular components from USM provide a crisp counterpoint to their softness.
Even though the spacious room is open, without walls delineating areas, there’s still plenty of wall space for more of the art collection that the couple built over two decades. “Wall space was a big concern,” notes Miller. “Ted designed a lot of it around what art we had at the time.” Maines, chief operating officer of Historic Creations Design and Development, which developed and designed The Sanctuary, also did much of the interior design and specification work for the high-end, mixed-use condo building on South Eola Drive and East Pine Street.
The lack of walls makes the 2,600-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath condo seem even larger than it is, as do the 12-foot ceilings. Further expanding the space is the wall of glass that separates the living and dining areas from the outdoor terrace, which takes the eye far past the room and to the downtown vista beyond. The terrace adds another 1,800 square feet of living, dining, entertaining and cooking (thanks to the gas grill) area to the Maines-Miller home. The couple enjoy all of the above, and frequently host gatherings ranging from intimate dinners to fundraising bashes. “My favorite thing in the world is to cook dinner for friends and eat at home,” says Maines.
Maines and Miller moved into The Sanctuary in December 2005, just when the condo boom began to explode. A November 2005 article in the Orlando Business Journal described them as “pioneers at heart” for moving into the first high-rise condo building to appear on the downtown landscape since the 1980s, but that was only part of the story. The couple, having lived in various parts of the metro area, including Winter Park and Windermere, built a house downtown on East Pine Street in 1998, long before urban amenities began to pop up in the Lake Eola Park area. Back then, there was no grocery store nearby, and there were none of the top-flight restaurants, sidewalk cafes, art galleries and retail stores that are now within walking distance for downtown residents.
“When we moved into our house in Pine Street, I looked up and down the street and said, ‘No way.’ It was very transitional at the time,” recalls Miller, a partner in the law firm of Seifert and Miller. “Over the years, Thornton Park Central was developed and then the Washington Street area was developed with Dexter’s and other restaurants. And during the building boom, we got the new Publix [in the neighboring Paramount condo tower on Central Boulevard], which is just an amazing asset.”
Of course, the condo bubble burst and downtown redevelopment has all but ground to a halt. But the slowdown doesn’t faze either of these downtown residents. “When I go out on the terrace and look around, it feels like we’re just in the center of so much,” says Miller. “Even though we’re in a significant dip and tough times, the area in general is a no-brainer in terms of potential.”
Residents of the 173-unit building have an onsite pool and fitness center at their disposal, and need only to walk outside the lobby’s tall glass doors to find all manner of shopping and dining options, including The Sanctuary Diner (formerly Fifi’s), The Beacon and Graze, the three eateries that anchor The Sanctuary. “If we need to grab a bite to eat, it’s either an elevator ride down or picking up the telephone to have them deliver it,” says Miller, who sees other benefits as well. “It makes me feel good that we’re reducing our carbon footprint and becoming greener. I feel that [by] living in that space in that location, that’s what we’re doing. We’re driving a lot less. We’re using less resources because everything is shared. It’s been a great experience to be in that space.”
Boom or bust, Maines and Miller are downtown for the long haul. “This is as close as I’ll ever get to living in New York City,” says Maines. “We love it here.”