A Farmhouse-Style Winnetka Home with Contemporary Interiors


Traditional Bedroom Retreat with Quiet Sitting Area

The lush bedding by John Robshaw and the Seema Krish pillow fabric from Holland & Sherry create a calm retreat.

Traditional Neutral Sitting Area with Elegant Fireplace Mantel

A quiet area in the master bedroom invites contemplation with its cozy skirted chairs upholstered in Pindler & Pindler fabric. The eclectic matching tree branch side tables are by Arteriors.

Contemporary White Bathroom with Elegant Freestanding Tub

A Victoria + Albert elegant freestanding tub from Chicago Brass sits atop basket-weave mosaic flooring from Waterworks in the master bath. The acrylic side table and the quirky overhead pendant are both by Oly. The Phillip Jeffries hemp wallcovering completes the look.

Contemporary Patio with Dreamy Backyard Landscape

On the patio, a natural stacked-stone fireplace and dreamy greenery from landscape designer Bruce Everly of Midwest Arbor set a serene stage for outdoor revelry. The dining table and surrounding chairs by Restoration Hardware reside on bluestone pavers. The pillows, featuring a lively geometric pattern, are from West Elm.

Bright Sunroom with Neutral Contemporary Aesthetic

The bright sunroom is a bit of a hybrid and can be left open to the outdoors or closed off from the elements at the homeowners’ will. The rattan lounge chairs by Palecek are covered in a cream Sister Parish linen; the circular woven abaca coffee table is by Made Goods. A pewter colored rug from Watson Smith runs underfoot.

Traditional White Breakfast Area with Colorful and Rustic Accents

In the breakfast area, colorful slipcovers, crafted with Laura Lienhard fabric available at Lucid Collections, give new life to the owners’ existing chairs—holdovers (along with the rustic farm table) from their previous abode. Small, elegant O’Lampia Studio sconces, resting on either side of the framed chalkboard panel, cast some light on the scene.

Traditional White Kitchen with Matching Chandeliers

Funky, matching Made Goods chandeliers are the heart of the kitchen. Their loose organic lines, as well as the Arteriors barstools from Creative Visions, are a refreshing contrast to the crisp white-and-gray palette of the Shaker-inspired kitchen. The glazed ceramic backsplash tile is from The Fine Line.

Traditional Gray Dining Room with Contemporary Decor

A dining room vignette includes the homeowners’ antique Chinese buffet, which looks fresh and contemporary beneath a set of matching crystal table lamps and a gilded mirror. Benjamin Moore’s Midsummer Night paint color provides a rich backdrop on the walls.

Traditional White Staircase with Elaborate Millwork

Elaborate millwork and a handsome wool runner with a floral pattern from Watson Smith define the aesthetic in the stair hall at the back of the house. A Saarinen table from Knoll sits front and center and is joined by Visual Comfort’s sleek double-arm sconces for a bit of modern edge in the otherwise traditional space.

Traditional Gray Living Room with Playful Print Armchairs

On one end of the living room, designer Tom Stringer paired armchairs with a playful print and a Ming-style Parsons coffee table— longtime favorites of the homeowners—with a sofa by Thibaut upholstered in soft chenille from Nancy Corzine. A rug from Watson Smith grounds the setting.

Traditional White Living Room with Modern Accents

The home’s exterior borrows its good looks from old-school Midwest farmhouses, while the interiors would be specially designed to accommodate the needs and wants of an active modern family.

Take one look at the large, welcoming home of a young family in Winnetka and it can be difficult to imagine that its origins were once much smaller: so small, in fact, that all of its rooms could fit into a space the size of a shoebox. For years, the wife had been painstakingly squirreling away pages from design magazines in a trusty Brooks Brothers shoebox under her bed—a picture-perfect living room here, an envy-worthy kitchen there—waiting for the day she and her husband could take these inspirations and translate them into a dream house all their own.

So, when a suitable plot of land became available, just around the corner from where they were living at the time, the couple knew it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. The only problem was that they weren’t sure how the brand-new kid on the block would affect the charming aesthetic of their older neighborhood with its established traditional architecture. “We really wanted a house that was going to reflect that it had been there for a long time,” says the wife. “We didn’t want it to feel like it was new construction that just popped up in the middle of the street.”

After sharing their concerns with designer Tom Stringer and architect Steve Munson, however, the couple was put at ease. As it turned out, the solution was simple: The home’s exterior would borrow its good looks from old-school Midwest farmhouses, while the interiors would be specially designed to accommodate the needs and wants of an active modern family. “Everything from the massing of the home to the different insets and overhangs we implemented to the materials we used helped to integrate the home into the neighborhood,” says Munson. “It took us ages to find the perfect stone for the façade because we wanted to make sure it had the right patina and looked really natural. We thought every little thing through.”

For Stringer’s part, he meticulously upheld the same attention to detail inside the house. Working with builder Jon Kogan and a team of talented craftsmen, Stringer spearheaded the home’s interior architecture, drawing and executing plans for the trim, molding and paneling throughout the home before tackling the furniture selection. “I really love old homes,” says Stringer, “so it was nice to be able to bring in some of those elements. They gave us a beautiful backdrop for all the great things we were bringing into the house”—and Kogan is the first to agree. “The millwork provided a lot of character and a nice sense of history,” he says. “It was complicated but completely worth it.”

Happily, however, the home holds more surprises than its carefully calculated woodwork would imply. While safe and soothing grays and warm neutrals define much of Stringer’s interiors, playful art—such as a refinished typesetter’s drawer over the fireplace in the family room and an oversize Michael Noonan print in the dining room—and quirky lighting—including the wiry, cartoon-like chandeliers over the island in the kitchen and the bubble bath-inspired pendant in the master bathroom—bring the spaces to life.

The result is a home that has come a long way from its shoebox roots, yet does not stray too far off the course its inspiration provided. “It’s so funny,” says the wife. “If I went down to the basement right now and went through the shoebox and all its clippings, I could probably find at least 10 things that ultimately made it into the house. It’s exactly what we wanted.”