2018-04-01 / Features

Rooms With a View

Since construction began in 2014 on the Fraser Centre, necks have craned and heads have tilted to take in State College’s altered skyline. But what’s the view like from the top? Peek into the Penn State-themed penthouse owned by Fred and Helaine Leibowitz to see the beauty of downtown living on a whole new level.
Robyn Passante | Photos by Matt Fern

Penn State alumna Helaine Leibowitz had been eyeing the Fraser Centre since it was nothing more than a vacant lot and a lot of talk.

“I said if they ever build here, I want to buy it,” says Helaine from her living room on the 12th floor of the building. The Leibowitzes were the first to buy one of the 26 condominiums offered on the top four floors, but they just recently moved in. Their three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, purchased for $1.79 million, has 2,762 square feet of space and expansive views of campus and downtown.

The proud Penn State family — besides Helaine, their son, Kody, is also an alum and their youngest daughter, Dani, is finishing up her degree here, too — knew instinctively they wanted to complement the campus views outside with a deliberate interior design inside.

“We knew this place was gonna be a blue-and-white Penn State condo,” says Fred, who attended a branch campus for one year before needing to head home to help with his family’s business. “I don’t think anyone else has blue and white in this building, which is kinda fun.”

They switched out the usual taupe walls for bright white and set about finding furnishings and fixtures that coincide with their vision — right down to the last detail.

The couple also has homes in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and in The Villages, Florida, but their new Happy Valley haven is the family’s favorite place to be.

“When ESPN had ‘College GameDay’ down here, we were sitting right up here and we could just see everything on Old Main,” Fred says. “You turned on the TV and there was about a 7-second delay. It was kinda fun hearing the kids cheer and then seeing them on TV.”

The Living Is Easy

Every section on the couple’s navy blue leather sofa reclines. That makes it the perfect place to watch the game on the family’s 85-inch flat-screen TV, while listening to the sounds of the raucous Beaver Stadium crowd wafting through the windows.

From the blue wine glasses lining the cabinets behind the wet bar to the Penn State paraphernalia draped over an easel in the corner, every detail was carefully selected to match the overall theme.

Dani LeibowitzDani Leibowitz

“Do you know how hard it is to find a white printer?” says Helaine of the cozy studying spot used occasionally by her daughter Dani Leibowitz, 22, who will move into the condo full-time this summer for her final year at Penn State. Dani’s favorite spot in her new home is a vantage point that allows her to enjoy the views inside and out. “I love sitting on the couch looking at the ‘We Are’ sign, and looking beyond it out the window to campus.”

Bright + Blue

The kitchen’s penny round tile backsplash and the island’s navy blue quartz countertop offset the room’s crisp white cabinets and stainless steel appliances. The drawers are stocked with blue and white dishes and accessories Helaine painstakingly acquired over the last few years, as well as products from the family business, Royal Paper Products, which the couple sold to Helaine’s brother a few years ago.

The 12-foot ceilings and European white oak floors give the main living area a wide open feel, and the open concept of the space adds to the airiness of the kitchen, making entertaining a breeze. “It’s so easy to have people over here,” Helaine says.

The modern geometric chandelier over the dining table was purchased at a store near their Florida home. Helaine says the most stressful part of decorating has been finding just the right shade of blue — like the navy ladder they had specially painted and installed on a sliding track system in order to reach the highest cabinets.

Extra Points

Helaine and Fred LeibowitzHelaine and Fred Leibowitz

The three bedrooms are all informally named after the couple’s three children, and all feature blue and white linens and plush navy carpeting. Fred and Helaine switched the originally designated master bedroom to the stadium side of the condo, and in the master bathroom, they removed the bathtub from the design and added a linen closet for more storage. All three bathrooms are appointed with quartz countertops and tile in understated neutral tones set off, of course, by blue and white accessories. •SCM

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