Matt Roberts says people leaving the party at his First Avenue condo one recent Friday night called it "magical" and "the best party we've ever been to in Spokane." Around 60 people -- dressed to the nines -- arrived at his unit in the Oakley building, where a DJ spun records from a loft bedroom and a bartender and cocktail waitress kept the party lubricated.
Houseguests are nothing new to Roberts, a 33-year-old realtor who -- in the last year -- has also become a developer, transforming the old Spokane Stamp Works space into his own trendy loft. With write-ups in the Spokesman-Review and Inland NW Homes & amp; Lifestyles, the place has generated serious buzz. Both his home and his showroom, the unit, he says, regularly draws people curious to see what he's doing.
What he's done is difficult to describe. Though the ceilings reach skyward, the space is not overwhelmingly large. In one corner of the main room stands an artfully wrought kitchen island. A couple of owl-eye mirrors on one wall peer across the room at a flat-screen TV inside a 7-foot-square gilt frame, red velvet curtains parted. The d & eacute;cor is jumbled -- here some Asian art, there a pre-1929 sign for the "Greater Davenport Hotel." Bundles of sticks stand in odd corners. The mod fixtures in the bathroom recall Sweden. Encased in glass along the front entryway is a 1999 Porsche Boxster.
Perched over the main room are two lofts. The master bedroom features a gangway that stretches over a hallway (and peers down into the shower) and into a walk-in closet. Another bedroom loft hangs above the front entrance, looking out onto First Avenue. You reach it by ascending a series of saucer-shaped steps. There's no guardrail yet, and each step wobbles on its single metal rail. "We're not letting anybody [else] up here because of the risk," says a friend of Roberts.
"Until you move in, you really don't know," says Roberts, who began construction -- using money borrowed on high interest from an investor -- about a year ago and moved in this summer. "Now that I've been here, I see some things that work and some things that don't."
But Roberts sees that as an asset to his reputation, not a liability. Part of the reason behind the f & ecirc;te -- aside from celebrating the magazine feature -- was to get video footage for a TV pilot he plans to pitch to HGTV, the network that airs shows like Spice Up My Kitchen and My House is Worth What? His show, he says, would follow him around as he transforms staid spaces into chic homes. The drama would lie in watching a relative greenhorn (Roberts used to work as a tennis coach and a manager to the late Spokane piano wunderkind Dax Johnson) take risks on out-there designs. Part of the intrigue, he says, is that "a lot of my ideas might not work ... The audience, they're going to be thinking, 'Yeah, I don't know about that.' But they're going to watch to see if it works or not."
In the end, Roberts hopes to produce from the footage a five-minute video, hosted by Comcast Housemate Jacob Leander and featuring Roberts.
In the meantime, he's trying not to get too attached to his new home. "If I had to [sell] it today, it'd be kinda awkward. It's been in my head for so long," he says. "I knew this would be short-term. I knew it was going to be forever. But as of right now, I don't feel like I'm going anywhere tomorrow."