Eclectic decor feels right at home in loft | Drapery Connection

So does Jack Irwin, who likes the Commercial Street setting and the friends who live there.

Becky Reigel News-Leader

Commercial street loft living is a good fit for Jack Irwin and his friends, part of a growing number of residents who call the urban district home.
You're invited to check out his place, and those of many of his neighbors, on Sept. 24 at the ninth annual C-Street Loft Walk, an Uptown Lifestyle Tour.

You'll find his apartment near the reopened farmers' market, through an inviting doorway and up a flight of stairs. A landing at the top provides more than ample space for an antique library table.

Open doors to three apartments offer a hint at the longtime friendship Jack shares with residents Donna Farrell and Russ Shaw.

"When I'm home, the doors are open and we just go from place to place," says Jack, who travels in his job as purser for United Airlines. "If someone goes to the store, we say 'Will you pick this up for me?'

"It's nice."

His residence has a living room, kitchen, bath and bedroom. There's also a laundry area tucked inside a closet in the bedroom; and a balcony ” with seating for two --off the living room.

Colorful walls ” including Chesapeake sunset and rust in the living room and a rich Mai Tai red in the bathroom ” provide backdrops for treasures. In the living room, the nearly floor-to-ceiling draperies were tailored in Bangkok; and there's a silk wall piece from Vietnam.


In the kitchen, multiple bottles of wine he's purchased in France, South America, Australia and other locales is displayed in glass-front cabinets and a wine cooler.

"I love my bubbly," says Jack, who often flies routes to Paris because he speaks French.

The kitchen, which opens to his living room and the balcony, is a great place to entertain, Jack says.

Jack has mixed feelings about the skylight in the bedroom: "I love it and I hate it." (The "hate" comes after he's been traveling for days and is trying to sleep during daylight.)

But he likes that he can hear the bells from his church, St. Joseph's.

"It's like God's telling me, 'Hey, get up and get over there.'"

The late-1880s building, owned by Councilwoman Mary Collette and her husband Paul Parker, has seen various uses including a boarding house.

The couple "did a really nice job" with renovations, Jack says, pointing out details including light fixtures in the hallway that were rescued from an old schoolhouse in Ozark. The huge doors leading to a balcony were also "rescues."

But it's not just the architecture tour organizers are hoping to showcase next weekend: "The focus this year was to show the wide variety of people who live here," Collette says of the street often associated with its services to the region's homeless.

The street's 50 or so loft dwellers include "a young mother, business executives, an international purser," she says.

"It's a wide range of styles, and people and tastes ” and yet everyone loves it up there."

Count Jack in the "everyone."

"There are a lot of great people up here," Jack says. "There's a sense of community."


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