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Chicago Home with Southern Roots

Clean lines and gracious proportions, paired with a hefty dose of fresh color, give this new Chicago home all the classic elegance of a true Southern beauty.

Written by Jennifer Kopf
  • Werner Straube

    Southern roots run deep. So when Gloria Masterson and her husband, Mike, decided to build a new home for their family of five instead of renovate in Chicago’s North Shore village of Kenilworth, it was no surprise that visions of iconic antebellum homes—like those found in Gloria’s Alabama hometown—came to mind. Stately columns, masses of tall windows, and a large and welcoming front porch topped her wish list.

    Architect Chip Hackley looked to historic references to define the home’s proportions but focused on a more vertical orientation to provide an airy layout. “The general design is traditional but with a slightly modern twist,” he says. 

    The home’s brick exterior is finished with a silicate paint, which replicates the aged look and texture of traditional English lime wash.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Hilary Rose

    Architect: Chip Hackley, Hackley & Associates Architects, Inc., Kenilworth, Illinois; 847/853-8258;
    Interior designer: Christine Hughes, Christine Hughes Interior Design, Chicago; 773/480-7192;
    General contractor: Scott Simpson, Scott Simpson Builders, Inc., Northbrook, Illinois; 847/291-2457;
    Kitchen designer: Susan Skilton, de Giulio Kitchen Design, Inc., Wilmette, Illinois; 847/256-8833;
    Landscape designer: Bruce Everly, Midwest Arbor Corp., Spring Grove, Illinois; 815/675-6766;

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    Throughout the main level, the ceiling height soars to over 10 feet. To usher in light, interior doorways secreting pocket doors are topped with transoms, while walls of French doors and floor-to-ceiling windows reminiscent of traditional Southern triple-hung designs round out every room. “Large openings centered upon each other across the house provide borrowed space and let the house breathe,” Hackley says.

    Paneled walls lend subtle distinction to the curved staircase anchoring Gloria and Mike Masterson’s entry. Rectangular sconce shades and a chevron runner strike a modern note.

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    Stunning Staircase

    Prominent but simple millwork, such as the linear paneling of the entry’s staircase and extra-wide baseboards and crown moldings, adds architectural authenticity. “We wanted things to be substantial, but a little cleaner than what is usually found in traditional homes,” interior designer Christine Hughes says. 

    The graceful open staircase elegantly connects the home’s three floors. Its dark handrail draws the eye upward.

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    Living Room

    Because most rooms flow together, Hughes opted for walls dressed in subtle yet cohesive variations of cool gray-whites. “We kept the interiors quiet—there’s not a lot of fussy details,” Hughes says. “We were trying to create something that was timeless, but with some modern elements that were appropriate for a young family.” 

    The living room’s arrangement of casual shapes and neutral fabrics ensures nothing distracts from the beauty of the room’s outdoor surroundings. In keeping with the home’s overall architectural style, a substantial yet streamlined limestone mantel serves as the room’s focal point. 

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    Formal Dining Room

    With the light and bright surroundings in place, Hughes and Gloria brought in vibrant color and personality via furnishings. “I wanted all white walls but then to have pops of color everywhere from fabrics, pillows, and rugs,” Gloria says. “Greens and blues are the colors that make me happy. It feels like it’s summer in my house all year round—even during Chicago’s gloomy winter days.” 

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    Formal Dining Room

    White moldings provide a crisp juxtaposition to a dramatic navy painted ceiling in the dining room. A graphic, acid-yellow rug and an abstract painting by artist Meredith Pardue put a fresh spin on a dark wood pedestal table and gilded accents. 

    Floor-to-ceiling windows replicate the proportions of traditionally Southern triple-hung windows and flood the dining room with natural light. 

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    Fab Kitchen

    Timeless simplicity and function reign in the all-white de Giulio designed kitchen. Convenient recessed shelving hides behind the sliding doors of the range’s sleek backsplash, helping to keep clutter off the countertops. The island’s waterfall design allows the beauty of the natural quartz to add visual weight to the open space and provide a nice focal point from its opposite living room. 

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    Bright Breakfast Room

    The breakfast room's seating area delivers a splash of color. An overdyed Persian rug does that and more; not only is it the saturated blue that Gloria loves, but it’s also surprisingly functional. “It’s so forgiving and it hides everything!” says Hughes. 

    The recessed cabinet continues the clean and modern lines—and clever storage solutions—of the kitchen, as the back wall opens to reveal the coffee maker and other kitchenware.

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    A vibrant blue sofa adds a punch of happy color to the washed-walnut-wrapped library. 

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    Handsome lockers trimmed in faux snakeskin keep the busy mudroom tidy. A custom colored lantern and durable oushak rug keep the space cheery and fun.

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    A pergola-covered patio functions like a cozy additional living room.

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    Master Bedroom

    With so much strong color in the rest of the house, Gloria wanted the master bedroom to take a rest. The curves of the vintage gray settee—a family piece they reupholstered and repainted—provide a pretty silhouette against the geometric lines of the large bay window. 

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    Master Bath

    Small mosaics surround marble hexagon floor tiles, forming a pattern-rich design that helps to visually open up the master bath’s narrow, runwaylike layout. 

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    Bunk Room

    Geometric fretwork on the custom bunk beds makes 12-year old son Joe’s bedroom more sophisticated than juvenile. 

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    A trio of dormers and symmetrical side gables on the rear facade mimic the front roofline. Below, an expanse of French doors and windows stretches almost end-to-end allowing plenty of access to the large outdoor terrace and inviting inside the sounds and breezes of nearby Lake Michigan.

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