A Chicago Apartment In An Art Deco Building Goes Glam


contemporary living room white sofa...

An apartment in a 1929 Art Deco building gets a glamorous update.

contemporary white living room antique...

In the living room of this Chicago apartment, a polished Calacatta Gold fireplace serves as the centerpiece. Above it hangs an antique mirror purchased at Frederick P. Victoria & Son in New York City and restored by Armand Lee & Company. The Magni coffee table is from Jean de Merry.

contemporary living room neutral palette

Playing on the apartment's views of Lake Michigan, architect and designer Joan Craig incorporated the serene hues of the lake and sand into the living room. Lichten Craig upholstered the custom sofa in a Romo fabric, while vintage Tommi Parzinger armchairs flank a Jean de Merry side table. The silk-and-wool rug was designed by Tai Ping.

contemporary gray dining room yellow...

Armand Lee & Company fabricated the mirrored dining room wall, while the others are sheathed in a silver cork wallcovering by Élitis. A rock crystal chandelier by Mathieu Lustrerie hangs above a table designed by Lichten Craig and surrounded by Dessin Fournir chairs covered in a Donghia fabric.

contemporary white and black kitchen...

The kitchen is a study in contrasts, with a honed granite countertop, white cabinetry and black-and-white marble-tiled floors. The Dessin Fournir stools are upholstered in a Holly Hunt fabric.

contemporary living room yellow accents...

Craig created drama in the family room between floors of polished-white Thassos and Absolute Black granite, punctuated with pops of yellow. The room also includes a Formations armchair, a Jayson Home side table and a custom Tai Ping rug. On the wall between the windows hangs From Here to There by artist Frank Wimberley.

contemporary white bedroom pale blue/gray...

A study of blue, white and silver, the master bedroom features a leather-upholstered bed dressed in Leontine Linens, vintage armchairs covered in a Cowtan & Tout fabric and a Jerry Pair ottoman. The draperies are made of a fabric by John Hutton and the chandelier is by Chameleon Fine Lighting.

contemporary white bathroom

In the master bath, which is outfitted in Iceberg quartzite and Thassos marble, Craig installed mirrored walls so the client could enjoy a 360-degree view. Exclusive Woodworking installed the cabinetry.

The project had the elements of a designer’s dream: a plum location in an iconic downtown Chicago building and a client with sparkling style (and a personality to match). Embarking on a new chapter in her life, the buyer sought a haven for herself and her two adult daughters that would accommodate her varied interests, from rescue dogs to fashion to entertaining. “She was actively seeking a place downtown so she could window shop while walking her dog and also where she could host friends,” says architect and designer Joan Craig, who happens to be the client’s longtime friend. “She called me one day and said, ‘I think I’ve found it.’ ” And found it she had. But the style of the sprawling space didn’t fit the client’s vision. So she enlisted Craig–along with designers Gemma Parker, Amanda Flood, Annelise Nielsen and architect Erich Wefing–to transform it.

Although the apartment needed a cosmetic makeover (“There was an inverted cove light in the entry hall that looked like a flying saucer,” says Craig), it did have strong bones and the perfect layout. Two separate bedroom wings, each with its own entrance, meant the owner’s daughters could share the space with their mother during their frequent visits while simultaneously enjoying a sense of privacy. The main objective for the design overhaul? Shine, shine and more shine. “The client asked for a home that would be reflective, with lots of mirrors, shimmer, silver and pale colors,” recalls Craig. “With windows facing all four directions, many overlooking the lake, the apartment is naturally bright–but she wanted more.”

Craig called in builder Richard Green to help make the space feel even brighter and happier. The residence in its original state was, according to Green, “generic, with no real personality.” After the renovation, which involved recreating the entry hall, redoing the closets, upgrading the finishes, altering the bathrooms and painting the cabinetry, he says, “It became much more dynamic and really depicts the client’s way of life and sense of style.”

To achieve maximum shine, Craig used polished stone, high-gloss paint, black lacquer, silver cork and antique-mirrored walls throughout. She kept to a mostly neutral palette in order to maintain balance, pulling from the panoramic views of lake and sky and enveloping the home in shades of sand, cream, champagne, pale blue and yellow. For the decor and detailing, Craig drew inspiration from both the building’s decadent Art Deco sensibility and her client’s personality. “Part of it is portraiture,” she explains. “My client is super elegant, but also effervescent and just sunny. She likes to have a good time, and I wanted to capture that spirit.”

While that élan is apparent throughout the home–through flashes of metallic embroidery, dazzling light fixtures and polished marble surfaces–nowhere is it more evident than in the dining room. “We wanted that room to be very bright during the day and to gleam in the candlelight by night,” says Craig, who paneled one wall in large-scale bricks of antique mirror and covered the rest of the room in silver cork paper to enhance the glimmer of light on all four wall surfaces.

Similarly, the powder room has a sumptuous jewel-box vibe inspired by the galaxy. “We wanted to evoke a feeling of the infinite,” explains Craig. The room was built around an unexpected find–a stunning slab, black with a sprinkling of silver and stars resembling the Milky Way, which Craig and her client stumbled across at a stone yard. “Going to the stone yard is like going to the market on the morning of a dinner party,” she says. “You go expecting to find the most beautiful artichokes for an appetizer, but instead you see incredible ramps and asparagus and wind up doing something totally different.” Green and his team had to remove the walls in order to lay down the slab as flooring, but the result was well worth it. “It’s a really sexy room,” Craig says. “When you close the door, it’s like Versailles.”

To ensure she didn’t go overboard throughout with the shine, Craig paired the glistening finishes with organic fabrics, like soft wools, cashmeres and even gently worn stones. The sitting room ottoman, for example, has the appearance and feel of a giant boulder. “She loves the way it looks, and I’m really proud of it,” Craig says of the final result. “It’s so gratifying to see a client–and a friend–grow into a new home, a new life and enjoy new passions.”