Interior designers: Tom Segal and David Kaufman, Kaufman Segal Design, 900 N. Franklin St., #710, Chicago, IL 60610; 312/649-0680.
Foyer by Nate Berkus
Because of its transitional nature, the foyer is one of the most difficult spaces to furnish in any home. Designer Nate Berkus conceived this one as a personal gallery of curiosities and a preview of attractions to come.
“An entrance hall should tell the first chapter of the story of you and your home—where you have been and where you aspire to go,” says Berkus, who used the space as a showcase for his signature placement of natural materials and organic forms. Inspired by the home of influential Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt, the is room largely neutral (weathered wood, silvery metal, gray marble, natural sisal), which gives the space a sense of calm luxury. Berkus describes Vervoordt’s home as “very grand yet filled with simple objects and antiques so that it feels very collected and creative.”
The balance of furnishings and art is one of the key lessons of the coolly dramatic space, which is centered on a long and narrow marble-topped console table. One wall of the foyer holds a sculpture made of crisscrossing twigs, its height and width echoed on the opposite wall by a tall bookcase that is an artwork itself, completely covered with strands of rope. And a pair of antique panels of carved pine that hang on one wall are balanced by two large orange, ball-shaped works of art.
Though arrangement of the foyer is sternly symmetrical, the idiosyncratic nature of the objects and their earthy, honest materials make the space feel warm rather than rigid.
Interior designer: Nate Berkus, Nate Berkus Associates, 311 W. Superior St., Suite 110, Chicago, IL 60610; 312/642-0404, nateberkus.com.
Living Room by Marshall Erb
“It’s definitely a room to be used at night,” says designer Marshall Morgan Erb of his seductive DreamHome living room, whose taupe color scheme is sharpened with shots of ebony and the glitter of gilt. “I envisioned it as a place where you would gather for cocktails before or after dinner.”
Erb also saw the space as an opportunity to create a multigenerational room whose furnishings span decades of style and whose art ranges from traditional (antique prints) to contemporary (a golden diptych above the sofa).
Explaining the multifaceted approach to the decor, the designer says, “I was inspired by one of my clients, who has a house that has been lived in by four generations of the same family.”
Anchoring the living room is a clean-cut 1970s lacquer coffee table by Karl Springer, an American designer who is one of Erb’s favorites. Spread across the limestone tile floor is a modern carpet woven in Tibet. A 19th-century marble-topped table stands next to a sofa whose sleek but curvaceous lines recall the work of Syrie Maugham, an influential British decorator who had a boutique in Chicago in the 1930s. And alongside a tidily upholstered armchair, the designer placed a funky petrified-wood side table carved in the organic shape of a sawed-off tree trunk.
“The eclectic combination of objects makes it feel like a room that has evolved over time rather than one that was decorated all at once,” Erb says.
Interior designer: Marshall Erb, Marshall Morgan Erb Design Inc., 943 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60622; 312/563-0000, marshallerb.com.
Library by Eva Quateman
Commissioned to create a library for the DreamHome, Chicago designer Eva Quateman decided to reject the classical notion of a library as a traditional interior with lots of wood and brass lamps. Instead she came up with a black, gray, gold, and ivory room whose sensual personality combines masculine and feminine elements.
“I wanted it to be a handsome space but not an unapproachable one,” says the Argentine-born Quateman.
Walls painted in a python-skin pattern provide an unexpectedly glamorous background for button-tufted chairs and ottomans upholstered in steel gray. Equally unexpected are the curtains, whose normally vertical stripes Quate man reoriented horizontally in a procedure known as railroading. Explaining the usefulness of the technique, the designer notes that it keeps the striped pattern from “getting lost in the folds of the curtains.”
Metallic glints—from curtain rings and brass sconces to burnished brass cabinet knobs—give the space a bejewelled air. A touch of gold also ornaments the grand bookcase, a Quateman design that is a fresh, modern reinterpretation of a classic British Regency design. Fresh, too, is the designer’s decision to hang a majestically bold oil portrait of a young woman over the desk instead of the landscape or hunting scene so often found in a traditional library.
Interior designer: Eva Quateman, Eva Quateman Interiors, 220 W. Huron St., #2002, Chicago, IL 60610; 312/255-8800, evaquateman.com.
Dining Room by Tom Stringer
“The dining room is the one place in the house where you can get away with a certain level of drama,” says interior designer Tom Stringer. “It’s an event space, pure and simple, so you want it to have some glamour.”
Based on the luminous color scheme of champagne, ivory, and white touched with accents of gold and smoky lavender—the same lavender Stringer, an avid scuba diver, sees on underwater sea fans—the dining room gets a lot of its aesthetic oomph from architectural details. “Bookcases are a great way to add personality to almost any room, but I didn’t want to fill them with books,” the designer says. Instead, he made them into display cabinets for a collection of white and ivory ceramics. All that white conjured up notions of 18th-century France and Gustavian Sweden (as well as the Syrie Maugham style of the 1930s), so Stringer surrounded the oval table with elegant and comfortable painted Louis XVI chairs. He then anchored one wall with a generously curved demilune commode that could be used for storage and serving.
Underlying the elegance, however, are substantial doses of drama, some strong, others more retiring. The walls, for instance, are covered with a white wallpaper whose embossed crocodile pattern adds texture but stays subtly in the background. And underfoot is a carpet from Stringer’s own line. With its graphic interlocking octagons-and-squares motif, the floor assumes a gutsy attitude reminiscent of the 1960s British designer David Hicks.
Hanging at the windows are opulent curtains whose champagne, lavender, and copper stripes pull together all the colors in the room.
Interior designer: Tom Stringer, Tom Stringer Inc., 62 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60610; 312/644-0644, tomstringer.com.
Bedroom by Kara Mann and Kristin Nelson
“It is possible to do a bedroom that is simple without being minimalist,” says Kara Mann, who designed such a sleeping space with her associate, Kristin Nelson. Taking inspiration from the great outdoors as well as from the color-restrained work of 1930s French decorator Jean-Michel Frank, the designing women created a subtle but welcoming bedroom decked out with soothing pale-wood tones, matte surfaces, and luxuriously varied textures.
Earthy tones suffuse the space, from the striking woven-rope lounge chair to the tailored Parsons-style bedside tables. Underneath it all is a bleached walnut floor laid in a herringbone pattern softened by a woven hemp carpet.
At the center of the paneled-look space (it’s actually hand-painted with applied moldings) stands a calligraphy-spare iron bed with a cowhide headboard. The elegant embroidery of the bed linens echoes the elaborate needlework that ornaments the bottom of the wool felt curtains; their muted extravagance haelps keep minimalism at bay. Another sensual detail? A shell-like plaster mirror above the fireplace.
Interior designers: Kara Mann and Kristin Nelson, Kara Mann Design, 100 W. Kinzie St. Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60610; 312/896-2460, karamann.com.
Bath by Athalie Derse
“I cannot stand predictable decorating, and there’s no reason a bathroom has to be just a utilitarian space,” says Athalie Derse, a Chicago designer known as a devotée of spirited style.
The bathroom she produced for the DreamHome proves her point: Boldly conceived, grandly proportioned, and with its amazing wallpaper and dramatic bathtub at the center of the room, it’s a spectacular sight from any angle.
Lined with a brown grasscloth wallcovering printed with “kind of wild” extra-large pineapple plants, Derse’s space is a combination bathroom and dressing room, a place to attend to one’s toilette as well as to kick back and relax. “It’s a more livable space when the functions are combined,” says the designer, who chose the pineapple wall covering because of the fruit’s history as a symbol of hospitality.
Underscoring that sense of multipurpose livability, Derse’s DreamHome bathroom is also furnished with an antique table, a silver-leafed bench, a scarlet vanity, and Gothic-style chairss made of shining stainless steel.
Interior designer: Athalie Derse, Athalie Derse Inc., 735 N. Western Ave., Suite 182, Lake Forest, IL 60045; 847/482-9372.
Family Room by Heather Wells and Bruce Fox
Think country house. Now think chic country house. “That’s what we wanted to channel,” says Bruce Fox, who created the DreamHome family room with designer-architect Heather G. Wells. “It’s an easygoing interior that has some whimsy and elegance to it.”
A little bit vintage (club chairs that recall the 1950s), a little bit country-club (Bermuda-green printed curtains and painted etagères), and a little ethnic (bamboo armchair, ikat throws, an African footstool), the team’s family room is a lighthearted space where wit, luxury, and wholesome practicality combine into a fresh-faced format.
“Seriously casual” is how Fox describes the installation, which has a background of wallpaper that has been hung horizontally to emphasize its weathered plank motif. Against that he and Wells arranged furniture whose mix of styles and fabrics broadcasts a laidback sensibility. Crowning the flat-screen television with a pair of moose antlers adds a note of National Geographic charm but also helps to visually anchor the television, making it a part of the room rather than an intrusion.
Interior designers: Heather Wells and Bruce Fox, Heather G. Wells Ltd., 333 W. Hubbard St., #2E, Chicago, IL 60610; 312/464-0077, hgwltd.com.
Courtyard by Douglas Hoerr
“Your landscape doesn’t stop at the door,” says landscape designer Douglas Hoerr. This explains why his DreamHome courtyard is carefully outfitted to complement the elegant themes used in the rest of the showhouse.
“Stylistically, there shouldn’t be a disconnect between a house and a porch or other outdoor space. The furniture styles, shapes, colors, and fabrics that you use outdoors really should all be extensions of the interior living spaces.”
Hoerr’s outdoor space is designed with an urban attitude and a touch of nostalgia. Streamlined wicker-style chairs are paired with a table that has a gutsy silhouette. Sleek metal accessories and furniture that is deeply cushioned for comfort encourage long, lazy conversations and easy entertaining.
“An outdoor space should make you want to stay there all evening, having cocktails, wine, and dinner, everybody laughing and joking,” Hoerr explains. “That’s why the furniture and fabrics outside should be as comfortable and inviting as what you use inside.”
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Showcase Showhouse: Dream Home
Chicago’s top designers celebrate style and function in DreamHome 2006
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