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Made in Manhattan


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WHEN BARBARA and Brent Katsakos sold their 7,000-square-foot Rancho Santa Fe estate, it was “fully furnished, down to the initialed bath towels.” There was no need to hold on to their old furnishings—their new lifestyle would require a new design scheme, something along the lines of a Manhattan-style penthouse in the heart of downtown San Diego.

“The gorgeous 360-degree views of the city, ocean and bay sold us on the place,” Barbara says of the condominium they purchased on the 34th floor of The Pinnacle in the Marina District. The unit spans 2,900 square feet, with a resplendent main room and panorama beyond. The design is equal parts wit and elegance, consisting of bold placement of exotic stone, boisterous color accents and custom-crafted cabinets by Michael Borrelli of Borrelli Design + Cabinetry.

“They are a high-energy, fun-loving cosmopolitan couple who know exactly what they want,” Borrelli says of his clients, who called upon him to style their condo after having worked together on their previous Point Loma home. The initial taking stock of the interior layout and architectural elements revealed changes needed to create their ideal urban environment.

The kitchen, dining and living rooms were distinct, separate places. “We wanted to create an open space flooded with light and plenty of room for entertaining—especially dancing,” Barbara says with a nod to the marbled foyer, where they hung a large contemporary painting of dancers. So they combined the living and dining rooms into one large, cohesive area, taking advantage of the views and natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. The room is minimally furnished with a Thomas Pheasant chaise longue, custom-made chenille sofa and tiny glass-and-chrome martini cocktail tables reminiscent of the glamour days of old Hollywood.

The design is punctuated by a dazzling display cabinet, a sleek flue-less fireplace and a showstopper bar. Borrelli used quartered, figured eucalyptus veneer and mirrored glass for the 11-by-16- foot custom cabinet. The piece offers much-needed hidden storage space and ample art niches with LED lighting “that turns the glass from a static warm glow to a revolving rainbow of colors at the flip of a switch,” says Brent, demonstrating this eye-popping special effect by San Diego–based Justin Strauss Candescent Lighting.

According to Borrelli, the display cabinet—made in a half-dozen pieces and assembled inside the home because of elevator size constraints—was designed to snuggle up to the soft fabric and feminine curves of the neutral-toned sofa. It was the tiny vein of golden thread running through the material that originally caught Barbara’s eye, and it sparked an accent theme for the interior’s lustrous décor.

Having forgone a formal dining room and its requisite table and buffet “because we eat out most nights,” the Katsakoses challenged Borrelli to create a world-class marquee bar for their frequent parties and home entertaining. The trio also solicited the help of interior designer Rebecca Flynn, Allied ASID, project manager at Borrelli Design + Cabinetry. Together, they concocted a stunning backlit onyx bar anchored by a glowing golden pedestal on one end and reflective mirrored-glass shelves on the other. For an ultra-modern twist, they added clear acrylic barstools that Brent and Barbara spotted in a Miami magazine and imported from Germany.

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