“Clean and modern yet comfortable with a sense of history.” That’s how Kristen Ekeland, principal at Studio Gild, describes her latest project, a gut reno of a 1980s single-family home located in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
Designed for a family of five—who recently graduated from a vintage, pre-war apartment near Lake Michigan—the primary goal was to establish a comfortable space that would infuse the traditional with contemporary touches. Neutrals and muted tones took precedence when it came to the color scheme, an intentional move on Ekeland’s part, who sought to establish a sense of serenity and openness throughout.
Herringbone floors, picture molding, and a stepped crown ceiling were a handful of the architectural details that contributed to the traditional aesthetic of the home, elevated by subtle pops of color found by way of the artwork and decorative accessories throughout.
“Each floor feels slightly different, both in function and in color palette, and yet each room builds off of each other for a cohesive style throughout,” notes Ekeland.
The high-contrast palette and daring finish of the entryway is an ideal representation of what the rest of the home has to offer. Ekeland’s vision for the area was formed around symmetry and the geometry of the walls of the foyer.
The George Smith console table sets the tone with its triangular form, lending itself as a base for the Mirror-tique antiqued mirror comprising segmented rectangles. The Atelier de Troupe spherical pendant light, set directly above, completes the scene.
Ekeland juxtaposed the architectural details of the area with globular pieces—such as the cluster of vases set on the console—and the curvy composition of the Lawson Fenning sconces that frame the mirror.
Located right off the entryway, the living room boasts a similar yet arguably subdued rendition of the established palette. “The living room is an area that we wanted to keep simple yet impactful,” recalls Ekeland of the space that doubles as an entertaining zone as well as a comfortable reprieve for the parents when the little ones have taken over the family room.
The marble fireplace is the undeniable piece de resistance of the room, furnished with an inspired array of modern pieces and organic patterns that complement the eye-catching stone—replicated by the fireplace in the master bedroom and the vanity of the powder room.
“We had a tight, small space to work with for the first-floor powder room, but we wanted to make a big statement,” says Ekeland of her decision to opt for a marble vanity. Textured grass cloth for the walls and herringbone wood floors established the backdrop of the room, allowing the organic details of the marble to actively shine through.
“The first thing you see when you open the door is the vanity straight ahead, so we knew that had to be the moment,” notes Ekeland. “To keep the room feeling more spacious, we decided to do a floating vanity. The gorgeous active marble appears to seamlessly wrap from the front sink apron back onto the wall beyond.”
Following suit with the rest of the home, the master bedroom took on a similar monochromatic scheme built around a high-contrast palette. “We wanted the master bedroom to be a relaxing oasis where the homeowners can unwind after a long day,” says Ekeland of her intention for the space, which feels like an independent, sun-filled penthouse, according to the designer.
Darker hues were used to intentionally separate the area from the rest of the home while subtle touches of blue were integrated into the white shell of the room for an added layer of serenity.
An expansive wall of steel and glass sets the home office apart from the adjacent master suite, complete with a skylight and large windows overlooking the treetops. The steel-and-glass feature was a source of inspiration for the window panes of the home, which were painted black to emulate a similar effect.
The eldest daughter’s room took on a slightly edgier feel, featuring a palette that is a slight departure from the home’s established scheme. The black-and-white backdrop allows for the personalized neon sign and pops of animal print throughout to truly stand out.
The second floor of the home is more or less devoted to the little ones and features a personalized library with the dreamiest bookshelf that’s outfitted with Hygge & West’s Cities Toile wallpaper. “Its storybook-like drawings of cities around the world help mold the space into a faraway retreat for the kids to read, play, and do homework,” adds Ekeland.
Creating a space that could cater to the needs of the young family all the while maintaining an uncluttered and airy feel was of the utmost importance for Ekeland. The architects of the home, Burns and Beyerl, had carved out a little extra storage space, which was manifested by way of various built-in and hidden units—the cozy window nook included.
Through these thoughtful measures, Ekeland was able to successfully design a style-focused space that upheld the needs of the family all the while giving the once-dated home a much-needed modern revival.