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Modern Classic

Interior designer Donna Mondi blends traditional and contemporary elements in a home for a young Chicago family

Written by Sally Finder Weepie
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    “The family wanted to love their home,” Donna Mondi says. But rooms weighed down by dark, heavy colors and outdated architecture made that difficult. Until Mondi, principal of Donna Mondi Interior Design, launched a complete renovation of the decade-old Chicago-area house, ushering in a light, bright transitional look that shares the youthful edge of a couple with energetic twins.

    Out went bowing floors, stained-wood coffered ceilings, arched doorways, and heavy millwork. In came sleeker architecture, swaths of glorious sunlight, bursts of color, and layer upon layer of sumptuous texture—plus a few touches of fun.

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    A light mood is evident from the foyer, where sunrays bounce off white-painted moldings and a fresh, patterned wallcovering by Bradley. "I brought the wallpaper in as the room started taking shape. It wasn't a case of building the space around it," Mondi says. "It initially felt a little risky, but with all the negative space in the foyer, the wallcovering proved to be a great choice. It doesn't feel overwhelming at all." Against this canvas, a sophisticated Julian Chichester console table juxtaposes playful artwork by Romina Ressia, a contemporary photographer who finds inspiration in Old Masters paintings. 

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    Comfy furnishings, plush fabrics, abstract art, and pops of color make the family room a truly happy space. "There's texture and color, but the room still feels calm," Mondi says. Pattern is subtle, from the checkerboard motif on the Made Goods coffee table to the strié look of the Jaipur rug. Color from the pillows and art reinforces a youthful mood. "The big wall was the perfect place for oversize art," Mondi says. "It's by a walkway, so furniture wouldn't work there." 

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    The art, which is really affordable—from Bad Dog, echoes the colors in the room's fabrics. It's particularly pleasing counterpoint to the Oly lounge chair in wood and blue mohair.  

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    Mondi removed a heavy coffered ceiling and switched out the fireplace surround, going beefy yet bright with new Caesarstone quartz.  A Kravet sectional that includes a chaise offers lots of lounge zones for family TV time. Materials are plush and tactile but also durable. "A young family lives hard," Mondi says. "Rooms have to be skateboard-tough."

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    "The homeowners wanted a white kitchen," Mondi says, "but I brought in some details to give it a distinctive look." Backsplash tile from Ann Sacks are ceramic, yet their finish gives the warm, subtle shimmer of bronze. It plays perfectly with the custom vent hood over the Wolf range, the hide-covered bar stools from Gabby, and pendants from Visual Comfort. White Cambria quartz on perimeter countertops contrasts dark Caesarstone on the island.

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    "I liked including antique mirrors in the cabinetry design," Mondi says. "The cabinet looks like a piece of furniture. I also love how the mirrors expand the room with their reflection and how they grab light and bounce it to other areas."

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    The mirrored cabinetry also ingeniously cloaks the family's workhorse refrigerator.

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    The mirrored look continues in the butler's pantry with backsplash tile from Ann Sacks in a chevron pattern. It creates just the right amount of drama against charcoal-hue cabinetry. This area was formerly an entry that Mondi closed off to give the family more functional space.

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    "There's something about the simplicity of the breakfast area that's so peaceful," Mondi says. "I wanted the couple and their twins—a boy and a girl—to be able to come together in the morning in a peaceful area to get the day started off right." The table and chandelier are from Mr. Brown.

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    To modernize the dining room, Mondi removed awkward niches, updated moldings, and raised and squared off the original arched entry. She then imbued the room with interest by layering in sophisticated color, texture, and pattern. "The patterns play well," the designer says. "The room is calm, but there's plenty of detail." Traditional wing chairs get a contemporary update with a hide covering.

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    "My favorite thing is the oversize pendant with leather fringe," Mondi says. "It's so unexpected." The epic fixture, from Sho Modern, initially struck fear in the homeowners' hearts. "In the box, it looked ridiculously huge," Mondi says with a laugh. "I said, 'Wait till it's up.' And when it was installed, they got it. They love it." 

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    Pink hues that appeared on pillows and art in the living room reappear in the dining room on a fuschia-infused bookshelf. "I like to repeat colors throughout a home, but use them in different ways," Mondi says. "It gives the house a cohesive feel while keeping it interesting." Blues and metallics are the designer's other common threads in this home.

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    Mondi set a foundation for her powder room design with a little-boy-proof porcelain floor from TileBar. "It looks like wood, but it's so easy to clean," the designer says. So is the wallcovering, a tactile grooved vinyl from Maya Romanoff that's also kid tested and approved. A floating vanity from Madeli (warmed with a Kohler faucet) makes the small space feel more open and airy.

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    A mirror from Arteriors with an antiqued look reflects the room's artwork, a Roman figure that keeps the mood of the home: classic takes a fun, youthful, contemporary turn.

  • Nick Novelli

    The homeowners wanted blue and yellow in the master bedroom, so Mondi delivered—in a forward-thinking way. "I made the yellow an accent, and put strength in black and white," Mondi says. "The main investment is neutral, so they can pop out the yellow and put in a different color down the road if they want." The custom bed features tall leather panels that play against the proportion of the room's small windows. A Schumacher wallcovering provides an intriguing backdrop for the bed wall. The nightstand is from Hickory Chair.

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    A custom cabinet (anchored to the wall to keep the kiddos safe) captures the eye with its rich mix of materials: metal fronts on an iron base, paired with a wood shelf—all in custom finishes.

  • Nick Novelli

    Mondi evicted the master bath's sea of gold marble, its huge whirlpool tub, and tiny shower to give the couple an open, relaxing space with a timeless feel. A freestanding tub teams with a new steam shower. Floating cabinets, light walls, and white countertops keep the vibe bright and airy.