When it comes to real estate, there’s something to be said for potential; the idea that a blank space can be transformed into a home that reflects the owners’ style and personalities. That is what sold a longtime Lincoln Park couple on their new digs at One Bennett Park, the much-talked-about, high-rise development in the city’s buzzy Streeterville neighborhood.
Having such vision was necessary—their first tour of the unit consisted of riding a temporary construction elevator up the side of the still-unfinished building. Upon arrival, they dared not walk within 20 feet of the wall-less edge, the frigid autumn breeze stinging their faces. The bird’s eye views, however, along with the refined renderings by renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern quickly sold them on the three-bedroom space. “It’s really special and unusual,” the husband says, pointing to the unobstructed views encompassing Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and parts of the glittering skyline.
The next step was making it their own, so they turned to designer Bruce Fox and general contractor Peter Stefanopoulos. “We really liked Bruce’s style—sort of formal to funky—and his use of color,” the wife says, noting that the result is comparable to her own fashion sensibilities. “I always wear something with a click, a jingle or sparkle—something that pops.” Tasked with creating spaces that celebrated the views without competing with them, Fox’s design includes such moments in every room. A large-scale, glass-and-brass chandelier softly reflects off the formal dining room’s pearlescent ceiling finish while iron cocktail tables with agate slices integrated into the bases elevate the adjacent living room. “The light shines through and does interesting things,” Fox says, describing the tables as “the jewelry in the room.”
Because the couple sacrificed their large, park-like yard for life in the clouds, the designer looked to nature for inspiration, painting the living room in a distinct, almost turquoise shade of blue that reflects the ubiquitous water views. Separated by cased openings, the dining and sitting room walls on either side of the living room are covered with an earthy tan-and-white striped grass cloth that reminds the wife of ripples in the sand. One of several wallcoverings throughout, the designer incorporated a more traditional sea-green grass cloth in the main bedroom, creating a serene backdrop for a built-in bed with a channel-tufted headboard upholstered in a patterned cut-velvet fabric.
Not all the colors are so subdued. In the living room, a pair of acrylic chairs with patterned rust-colored velvet upholstery contrast with twin cream sofas that face one another. “We wanted them to pop,” Fox says, noting that the wife’s love for a little drama gave him some freedom. “There are little shots of personality I knew the wife could handle.” That goes double for her office where, drawing inspiration from a painting by Chicago artist Rhonda K. Brown, the walls are painted in a pink hue accented by a purple sofa, dark plum side tables—one of the wife’s favorite colors—and a custom desk with a blue-white-and-gold motif reminiscent of sea glass.
Throughout the home, there is a subtle ’70s vibe that infuses the design. “The Karl Springer vellum table in the living room is definitely a blast from the past,” Fox says. “And though the sitting room sofa is contemporary, it does kind of have a mod quality.” It is, as he notes, a reference to the era without “going all the way back.”
Heeding his clients’ wishes, the designer never sacrificed comfort for style. Covered in a dark blue velvet, for example, the swivel chairs in the sitting area are as cozy as they are stylish, allowing guests to easily shift between views of the stunning city skyline and the handsome new built-in with bespoke eglomise panels and a low-slung fireplace that Stefanopoulos installed. “Bruce understands that at the end of the day, elegance has to be comfortable for the owner,” the husband notes.
“I feel so good being here,” the wife says, pointing to the spectacular, ever-changing vistas and elegant yet eclectic interior design. “Bruce is open to new ideas, and he loves to push the boundaries, so it’s fun to work with him,” she adds. To Fox, creating that emotional connection is the most satisfying part of his job. “I want the project to have a little of their personality,” he says. “I ask myself, ‘How do I make this house a home?’ It’s much more intentional.”