Living Room

A sophisticated, understated gray bathes the perimeters, showcasing the rich architectural details. The shell also provides a glamorous backdrop for furniture covered in civilized shades of ivory, classic and modern artwork, and arresting exterior views.

Alluding to the warm tones in the botanical prints, a round table draped in decadent coral velvet damask rests in the room’s center. A tailored chaise with a simple, graceful profile and matching carved armchairs are spotlighted in a corner. Above, a classic oil painting emphasizes the height of the grand space.

Living Room

Cream and gray drapery from Scalamandré subtly incorporates the room’s palette with elegant woven trim.

Living Room

On one wall, pairs of metallic console tables and mirrors flank a black-and-white marble fireplace that demands attention with a graphic contemporary painting atop the mantel. “There are very serious pieces in this room,” says Plechaty, “but the contemporary art breaks the formality and brings everything together.”


Living room designer Gail Plechaty.


Dining Room

At a party, tension is disastrous. In design, it’s divine. Just ask Darcy Bonner, who played a little game of devil’s advocate when he redid a formal dining room.

Instead of bowing to the traditional architecture of the room, Bonner used furniture with clean, contemporary lines as a contrast to the rich ornamentation of the walls, wrapped in a warm and handsome shade of gray. As an added modern counterpoint, the designer extended the ivory tone of the marble fireplace surround with an oversized goatskin-framed mirror above the mantel. Its beveled ivory-leather frame reflects the room’s classic wall paneling.

Atop ebony-stained oak floors softened with a wool sisal rug, Bonner placed a sleek dining table in front of the fireplace. Chairs clad in hazelnut-colored leather surround the exotic Macassar ebony wood table. A Venetian glass chandelier illuminates the setting.

See more of this room on the following slides.

Interior design: Darcy Bonner, Darcy Bonner & Assoc., LLC, 205 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 307, Chicago, IL 60606; 847/853-3470,

Table Setting

The dining table is set with elegant purple and gold plates from Bernardaud. Detailed flatware and “Bubbles” stemware from Hermès add textural interest.

Sparkling Plenty

Across the room, nestled between French doors, a cerused oak buffet boasts a cast-glass slab top in a textured platinum gold-leaf finish. The sparkle continues with a smoky-glass mirror and plaster sconces, also finished with platinum gold leaf.

Slight Exaggeration

The furniture brings a buoyant modernity to the room,” notes Bonner. “To me, a dining room is the stage for entertaining in any house, so it needs to be a little exaggerated to be successful.”


Dining room designer Darcy Bonner.


Master Bedroom

This master bedroom whispers with a tranquil palette of gray, stone, and cream that calms the senses and promotes relaxation. “It’s serene and dreamlike, and feels comfortable,” says Gemma Parker-McKeon, who designed the space with Joan Craig.

The expansive and well-proportioned room is divided into three distinct areas—sleeping, relaxing, and working. Placed to take advantage of the classic fireplace, the seating area includes a slipcovered armchair, an ivory sofa piped in gray, and a glass-topped coffee table. Although they do not match exactly, silk pillows on the sofa allude to walls that are covered in silk fabric that has the look of travertine marble.

“We wanted the room to be sophisticated without being too formal,” notes Craig of the metallic finishes ranging from the silver-leaf bed to mirrors and glass bedside lamps that enhance the room’s quiet chic. “They accessorize the space like the right piece of jewelry accessorizes a couture outfit.”

See more of this room on the following slides.

Interior design: Joan Craig and Gemma Parker-McKeon, Lichten Craig Architects, LLP, 4 E. Ohio St., Suite 10, Chicago, IL 60611; 312/321-7400,

Contemporary Touch

The contemporary stainless-steel-and-glass cocktail table provides visual substance without weighing down the ethereal palette.

Fab Four-Poster

The centerpiece is an early-20th-century four-poster with a fretwork headboard and silver-leaf finish placed between a pair of windows. Not wanting to detract from the bed’s intricate detailing, the design team draped bedside tables with tailored slipcovers fabricated from polished ivory cotton with gray insets at each pleated corner. Window treatments of wool sateen drapery panels decorated with geometric borders and backed by ivory shades hug the tables.


Master bedroom designers Joan Craig & Gemma Parker-McKeon.

Breakfast Room

Liz McEnaney doesn’t use a magic formula when she designs a room, but her goal is always the same: After the functional requirements of a space have been met, make it pretty—and leave it at that.

In the light-saturated breakfast room, she achieved an easy elegance that includes a neutral color scheme and natural fabrics that let the intriguing architecture, the exterior grounds, and—most important—the people be the stars. “Elegance is simplicity, and in interiors that means creating a soothing palette that is beautiful and makes the people who are enjoying the space feel comfortable and special,” says McEnaney.

Beneath the room’s grand vaulted ceiling with its original plaster ornamentation, furnishings are geared for both dining and relaxing. Dining chairs upholstered in natural-colored linen that implies formality are pulled up to the round table, making the space suitable for both breakfasts and grown-up dinners. In an update on traditional toile, a taupe-and-ivory linen fabric depicting deer was fashioned into drapery panels.

See more of this room on the following slides.

Interior design: Liz McEnaney, E. Claire Design, LLC, 5 Steeple Chase Ln., Northfield, IL 60656; 847/441-0234.

Breakfast Room

Playing off the idea that the room is both casual and formal, hand-painted porcelain dinnerware and cut crystal are placed on burlap placemats with frayed edges.

Breakfast Room

McEnaney chose a well-cushioned linen-covered banquette with nailhead trim to provide more seating. It measures up to the good looks of the other pieces, elaborating on comfort and inviting guests to stay awhile.


Breakfast room designer Liz McEnaney.

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Sophisticated Lake Forest Showhouse

Designers transform a gorgeous Chicago-area home

Written by Krissa Rossbund
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Werner Straube

Since 1985, the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens has featured the talents of area designers to raise more than $3 million for the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago. The 2013 showhouse—set in an Italianate mansion built in 1916 by prolific Chicago-area architect David Adler—is poised for stylish transformations by 26 design firms. Open April 27 through May 19. For information, visit

Shown here, designer Gail Plechaty’s living room is dressy without apology. Its design—inspired by the famed salons of Paris—makes no attempt to relax the inherent formality of the chamber; rather, it enthusiastically celebrates its classical proportions and rich ornamentation.

But intimidate it does not. “I didn’t want traditional sofas and chairs centered around the fireplace,” Plechaty explains. “I wanted to expand traditional arrangements of furniture to create intimate gathering spaces.”

Plechaty was guided by symmetry as she placed appointments throughout the stately room. A grand presentation of botanical prints hangs between soaring windows dressed in luxurious silk panels. The coral color of the prints echoes the hue in the rug that grounds a marble-topped coffee table and a pair of Louis XVI chairs flanking a sofa slipcovered in ivory cotton.

See more from this room on the following slides.

Photography: Werner Straube
Produced by Hilary Rose
Interior design: Gail Plechaty, Real Simple Design, 17405 E. Millburn Rd., Old Mill Creek, IL 60083; 847/507-4000.

Sofa: vintage.
Sofa and fabric on oblong pillow (“Tamika Silks”/Pearl #3032): Harlequin, 201/339-0500, Through Nancy Corzine, 312/645-4500,
Pillow trim (“Le Musée Silk Woven”/Putty Melange #977-27894-667): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000,
Side chairs (Louis XVI-style, custom): Elizabeth Dow, 631/267-3401,
Chair fabric, front (“Cross Weave”/Ivory #NC0850-003): Nancy Corzine, 312/645-4500,
Chair fabric, back (“Seaton Stripe”/Salt & Pepper #1161/06, by Classic Cloth): Dessin Fournir, 785/434-7200,
Trim (“Le Musée Silk Gimp”/Putty Melange #982-28842-667): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000,
Coffee table (Louis XVI-style): custom.
Rug under coffee table (antique Ghiordes, 5x9 feet): Minasian Rug Co., 847/864-1010,
Sconces: original to house.
Framed coral prints: antique.
Grey drapery (“Academy Satin”/Grey #36288-003): Scalamandré, 800/932-4361,
Cream drapery (“Tamika Silks”/Pearl #3032): Harlequin, 201/339-0500, Through Nancy Corzine, 312/645-4500,
Drapery hardware (Versailles Collection): Brimar, 800/274-1205,
Drapery trim (“Le Musée Silk Woven”/Putty Melange #977-27894-667): Samuel & Sons, 212/704-8000,
Paint (custom color): Socko Painting & Decorating, 847/854-8474,


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