by Allison Walsh / photos by Inspiro 8 Studios
Phil Gregory is doing his part for downtown Greenville’s thriving culinary scene. “I eat out three meals a day,” he says. “Downtown is what’s happening.”
Gregory has called downtown home for 10 years and counting, first in a South Main Street condo and more recently in a RiverPlace penthouse overlooking the Reedy River and the Peace Center complex. Restaurants were a big part of what initially drew him to the downtown area, and eventually to his riverside home.
“South Main was a lot of fun, but I wanted to be down on the river. It seemed like everything was moving in this direction,” he says. “I walk just about everywhere I go – no need to have a car really when you live here.”
The master suite of his new home overlooks the dining room of Hall’s Chophouse below, and Gregory jokes he can post a sign in the window indicating what he would like for dinner and have his meal waiting for him on arrival.
He had his eye on RiverPlace for years before one of the coveted 10 units finally came available. As it happened, the condo was originally owned by the late Mary Peace Sterling, one of Greenville’s prolific benefactors of the arts. “A wonderful lady,” Gregory says. “She bought the shell and built it out to what it is now for the most part. We came in and did minor changes, more cosmetic than anything.”
To guide the design, Gregory enlisted Barbara Dalton of Dalton Interiors. The two had worked together previously and Dalton was thrilled to be able to add her touch to what they both describe as Mary Peace Sterling’s exquisite taste. “We were very fortunate. This is a designer’s dream to come into and have all this already done,” Dalton says. “We didn’t move any walls or change any of her footprint and we kept all of her beautiful moldings and details.”
The living room is anchored by a marble fireplace Sterling acquired from France and in the dining room they were able to preserve an exquisite hand-painted wallpaper by Gracie. Original lanterns grace the hallway, with sconces added for supplementary lighting. The walls of the powder room are upholstered in a silk damask to dramatic effect and Dalton and Gregory saw no need to toy with it. Dalton oversaw painting walls and trim throughout, selecting a lighter palette to take advantage of the abundance of natural light that fills the space.
“This is different for Phil,” Dalton says. “In his other place, things were much deeper in color and in this home he wanted things lighter.”
Dark terra cotta floor tile in the kitchen was removed in favor of hardwoods and this project turned out to be the most ambitious undertaking of the redesign. In an effort to avoid moving the cabinets and breaking up the existing marble countertops, the tile was cut down at the cabinet edge and torn out. The butcher block island was refinished in a lighter tone and new lighting was added. Steadfast in his commitment to dining out, however, Gregory opted to preserve the pint-sized stove customized to the previous owner’s diminutive stature.
“Mrs. Sterling was very, very petite, and Phil doesn’t cook anyway, so we decided to leave it as a neat little feature,” Dalton says.
Gregory loves downtown, but his castle is ruled by Gigi, his seven-year-old Shorkie – part Shih tzu, part Yorkshire Terrier. “She loves downtown,” Gregory says. “She goes out and plays with the geese when they’ll let her. Living on the river, she’s experienced a lot of things she’d never seen before.”
Gigi can keep an eye on her riverside playground from home, too, thanks to a tempered glass screen Gregory had custom built to keep her safely ensconced on a patio perch. When Gregory does return home, he wants to sit and unwind with his furry friend by his side. “One of the things Phil wanted was to be sure he had a few places that were very comfortable and inviting for him to be able to relax and enjoy, in addition to his entertaining areas,” Dalton says.
Dalton obliged with two gorgeous sitting areas in the front and rear of the home. “This is my favorite space; a good place to read and watch TV,” Gregory says of the handsomely appointed lounge adjacent to the living room, where sumptuous sofas are flanked by built-ins bearing books and other treasures. “Gigi likes it, too. She has her spot right on the back of the couch.”
After a few more finishing touches, Gregory will be ready to share his bird’s eye view of Greenville with friends. Rest assured these will be catered affairs. “Carl and Rick do a great job,” he says (referring to Carl Sobocinski and Rick Erwin). “No need to try and compete.”