In a co-op overlooking Lake Michigan, furniture fits to scale
Downsizing never went so big. Soon-to-be empty nesters Courtney McEnery, above, and her husband, Roger, were moving from an 1870s Victorian home in Chicago's Lincoln Park area to a co-op of roughly the same square footage on the 22nd floor of a building overlooking Lake Michigan. With a house full of elegant antique furniture, the couple figured they wouldn't need to buy a thing. "We thought we were set," Courtney says. But as movers hauled the furniture into the 5,800-square-foot residence, her heart sank. "It looked like doll furniture," she recalls. "Our biggest sofa looked like a tiny love seat in one corner of the living room. It was a real lesson in scale." Design: Jessica Lagrange, Jessica Lagrange Interiors LLC, 605 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; 312/751-8727, jessicalagrange.com. Photographs by James Yochum Text by Amy Elbert Produced by Gisela Rose
Interior design: Debra Martinson, DM Interiors, 3020 St. Albans Mill Rd., Minnetonka, MN 55305; 952/545-5351.
Co-designer: Dana Alpeter, Dana Alpeter Interiors, 4405 Browndale Ave., Edina, MN 55424; 952/928-3749.
Architect/Design-Build: Leffert Tigelaar, Choice Wood Co., 3300 Gorham Ave. S., Saint Louis Park, MN 55426; 952/924-0043.
Landscape design: Bob Palmer, Landscape Renovation, 12515 40th St. S., Afton, MN 55001; 651/248-4020.
Photography: Susan Gilmore
Produced by Alecia Stevens
The co-op’s spacious rooms, including a 34x19-foot living room with 10-foot ceilings, demanded furniture with weight and heft, says Jessica Lagrange, a Chicago interior designer and longtime friend who came to the McEnirys’ rescue. “Their other home was beautiful,” she notes, “but its rooms were smaller and darker. Here, everything is grand and on a much larger scale.”
Large windows with their sky-high views magnify the spaces even more. The living room overlooks Lake Michigan, and the family room has views of Lincoln Park Zoo, one of Courtney’s favorite Chicago attractions.
Lagrange anchored the living room with a pair of 96-inch-long suede sofas in a “paper-bag” color with brass nailheads. The sofas were so massive that they wouldn’t fit inside the building’s service elevator, so they were upended and placed on the elevator’s roof. Two men escorted the sofas as they slowly ascended one-by-one to the co-op’s level. “I made sure I was out of town that day,” Courtney says, only half-joking.
The changing colors of the lake -- from gray, to blue, to brown -- inspired Courtney’s choice of a tranquil blue palette for the living room. “We wanted to bring the whole spectrum of those colors inside,” she says.
reflecting the blue hues of the water. Courtney had admired similar panels at a luxury hotel in New York City. “I fell in love with the colors and the whole calm feeling of those panels,” she says. Made in China, the designs are hand-painted on textured papers that were installed in strips by a paint contractor. Framing the panels are moldings that flank 9-foot-tall double doors at each end of the room.
Four large windows with views of the lake are softened with silk draperies in water shades of blue and green. Walls are also blue, “the color of the lake,” says Lagrange. Grounding the room, an antique 10x14-foot Oriental rug in tones of slate blue, green, and rust is layered over a nearly room-size sisal carpet.
In the dining room, Courtney somewhat reluctantly gave up her grandmother’s rectangular table. “I was adamant they use a round table,” Lagrange says. “You’re all together, and it’s more conducive to conversation.” A mirrored commode and gilt chandelier with rock crystals give the room a touch of Hollywood glam, the designer notes.
A sunroom adjoining the dining room is large enough to set up a table accommodating up to 12 people when the McEnirys entertain large groups. “They can have two seating areas in very close contact,” Lagrange says. The sunroom was part of a renovation by a previous homeowner, but looks as if it’s original to the building.
Light glistens on the mosaic tiles in the sunroom adjacent to the dining room.
The library’s sun-damaged teak paneling was refinished, creating a cozy room for family TV-watching and a spot for Roger to enjoy a cigar. His collection of vintage cigar and other boxes is displayed on the table.
The kitchen was also renovated several years ago, and the McEnirys needed only to update it with paint, some new appliances, and stainless steel panels on the existing twin refrigerators. The linoleum floors were stripped and resealed with a high-gloss finish, and the black granite countertops were also refinished and resealed.
Lagrange jazzed up the kitchen with punches of apple green on the window shades and the mats on two prints hanging in the breakfast area. “We built on the black-and-white scheme and tried to hip it up a little bit with the fabric and color,” she says.
The hanging stainless-steel-and-glass cabinets, which were installed by the previous homeowner, were disassembled, steam-cleaned, and rehung.
Daughters Grace and Eloise both weighed in on the design of their own bedrooms. Nineteen-year-old Grace went with a vibrant toile in an unexpected combo of acid-green and red. “It’s not your typical pink-and-green toile,” Lagrange says. Grace’s room doubles as a guest room because she is at college much of the year.
Eloise, 16, found her color scheme in her choice of Ralph Lauren sheets in orange, pink, yellow, blue, and green. “Eloise wanted to do something modern, so Jessica came up with a mid-century-modern concept,” Courtney explains. The bed’s headboard is upholstered in orange velvet, walls are painted a high-gloss white, and twin ottomans with X-bases are white patent leather with orange trim. The bedside lamps were Courtney’s when she was a girl, updated with pink shades.