All the Right Moves

Décor - - Contents - Writ­ers Jenny Bradley Pf­ef­fer and Mara Boo pho­tog­ra­pher Wer­ner Straube pro­ducer Hi­lary Rose

A de­signer breathes new life into a sub­ur­ban Chicago home, elo­quently mix­ing old and new.

Sooth­ing shades of blue—punc­tu­ated with streaks of jewel tones—roll through this Chicago home

in a most de­light­ful way.

This photo: The liv­ing room’s col­or­ful paint­ing by Frank Stella in­spired the home’s pal­ette. “This house is all about con­tem­po­rary art mix­ing with high-qual­ity an­tiques and time­less con­tem­po­rary up­hol­stery,” de­signer Tom Stringer says. Op­po­site: Lofty ceil­ings and neu­tral walls open up the liv­ing room and spa­ces through­out the house.

This photo: The din­ing room is a dar­ing mix of con­tem­po­rary and time­less. A 6-foot-tall an­tique Ital­ian chan­de­lier re­flects the patina of brass frames hous­ing Andy Warhol prints of Grace Kelly. Op­po­site: Lin­ear forms ren­dered in clas­sic stone and stucco lend dis­tinc­tion to the ex­te­rior of the home.

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Some­times it takes more than a lit­tle nip and tuck to re­veal true beauty. A bit of re­vi­tal­iza­tion, so to speak. Such was the case with this con­tem­po­rary Ge­or­gian home over­look­ing Lake Michi­gan in Chicago. While the ar­chi­tec­ture was pic­ture-per­fect, the decades-old in­te­ri­ors needed a facelift. “It was a beau­ti­ful house to be­gin with,” de­signer Tom Stringer says. “The bones were great. We just per­formed a lit­tle surgery on the in­te­ri­ors. Our goal was sim­ply not to ruin ar­chi­tect Larry Booth’s lovely work.”

Change came in the form of a worldly mix of an­tiques and clas­sic up­hol­stered pieces that breathe a grace­ful el­e­gance into the home’s more modern shell. A po­tent cock­tail of tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary blends de­li­ciously with a pal­ette of rich blue, terra-cotta, and golden yel­low. “It’s a clas­sic color scheme,” Stringer says. “And we used it in a way that’s as sym­met­ri­cal as the ar­chi­tec­ture. The com­bi­na­tion re­peats in in­verse pro­por­tions through­out the house to keep things flow­ing.”

United by the pal­ette, an­tiques with dis­parate prove­nances and re­pro­duc­tion pieces ap­pear as though they have grown up to­gether. “There’s an overt Euro­pean el­e­gance to the in­te­ri­ors,” Stringer says. “To me, there’s no bet­ter way to cel­e­brate con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture than to jux­ta­pose less con­tem­po­rary el­e­ments against it. An­tiques look more lus­cious in a con­tem­po­rary en­vi­ron­ment. It makes for an in­ter­est­ing mix.”

Up­ping the glam fac­tor, Stringer used elab­o­rate portieres to de­lin­eate the main floor rooms. Paired with an­tiques—Ital­ian in­laid com­modes, an or­nate 6-foot-tall Ital­ian chan­de­lier, and an English an­tique din­ing ta­ble—the sump­tu­ous treat­ments set a for­mal tone in the din­ing room. A pair of Warhol prints in­jects an ir­rev­er­ent edge, tam­ing the room’s solem­nity.

In the kitchen, Stringer let the in­te­ri­ors bow to the home’s nat­u­ral sur­round­ings. A wall of win­dows fram­ing a view of the lake acts as art­work against pale taupe and steel blue cab­i­nets. Honed Cala­catta Gold mar­ble coun­ter­tops add an air of seren­ity, keep­ing dis­trac­tions to a min­i­mum.

Like­wise, win­dows in the mas­ter bed­room are framed with draperies of pale blue wool with hand-ap­pliquéd bor­ders that mimic the lake’s calm­ing hue. “It feels as though you’re float­ing above the bluffs at the lake’s edge,” Stringer says. “We tried to cap­ture that amaz­ing color and bring it in­doors as well.”

Amid the blue, a four-poster with hints of gold leaf serves as the room’s cen­ter­piece, an el­e­gant coun­ter­point to more del­i­cate pieces like gilded fau­teuils with blue vel­vet cush­ions and a re­fined cof­fee ta­ble. To­gether, they cre­ate a space that is grand yet invit­ing. Hand­some, yet fem­i­nine. “At the end of the day, it’s just a happy house,” Stringer says. “Who wouldn’t want to wake up here?”

Func­tion­al­ity is well-served in the kitchen. Dou­ble is­lands of­fer max­i­mum counter space and stor­age, while a sec­ondary prep kitchen hides messy jobs. A pull­out trol­ley pro­vides easy ac­cess to small break­fast ap­pli­ances like the toaster, cof­feemaker, and grinder. “To me, kitchen de­sign is about cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing,” Stringer says.

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This photo: A gilded chan­de­lier and tra­di­tional pinch­pleat draperies add time­less flair to modern bath fix­tures. Op­po­site: Ca­sual shades bal­ance the mas­ter bed­room’s more for­mal, hand-ap­pliquéd cur­tains, just as the sofa bal­ances the gilded fau­teuils flank­ing it.

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