A Funky Apartment Up in the Clouds

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Sky's the Limit in Chicago

What do you give newlyweds in search of a home in the clouds? An apartment full of color is a great start.

The fun vibe is present outside, where mod blue and orange furnishings, as well as an array of plants provided by the Gethsemane Garden Center, add personality to the long balconies on both sides of the unit. Conceived by rooftop garden designer
Ashley Ono of Chicago Specialty Gardens—and inspired by an initial plan by designers Somogyi and Malyszko—the master design of both balconies features flooring covered with porcelain tiles bordered by a bed of black pebbles. “The pebbles added a unique texture, providing a contemporary, calming aesthetic complementing the color palette of the interior design,” says Ono, who also completed the installation of the hardscape. “The architecture of the building provided a space with tight corners and low thresholds, creating some obstacles during the design process, so getting everything to fit together like a puzzle was very gratifying.” 

Chicago Living Room with a Skyline View and Large Windows

A carefree sensibility carries into the living room, where a black-and-white rug with a tie-dyed quality creates a graphic canvas for clean-lined furnishings dressed in neutral fabrics. Colorful pillows and throws, plus West Elm’s round Martini side table, add yet another dimension and playfully contrast with the room’s moody tones and rectilinear lines. “You can achieve a wonderful modernity without having everything be straight lines,” Somogyi says. “In many cases, curves make those lines look even straighter, and when you put them together en masse, they create a wonderful harmony.” 

To ensure the views from inside the house are as spectacular as those from the patio, the designers had the formerly almond-colored window casings painted dark bronze and much of the white ceiling lacquered in a slate blue hue. “In the daytime, the ceiling and the sky blend together,” Malyszko says. “At night, the window frame disappears, and you can just see the city lights.” 

A black-and-white rug from
Watson Smith's Warhol collection creates a graphic base for sofas from Room & Board and a pair of stainless-steel cocktail tables by Nuevo. The accent pillows exhibit fabric from Lee Jofa and Carnegie.

Open Dining Area Injected with Colorful Chairs

The designers lobbied the couple to incorporate saturated punches of color to liven up the otherwise neutral palette. The dining chairs, for example, are covered in a dramatic upholstery that has thick colorful stripes— each with a slightly different repeat so no two are alike. “We thought it was a really bold way to introduce color and use it as a springboard for hues throughout the space,” Somogyi says. “They weren’t shy about adding some really vibrant pieces that give it some fun, energy and funkiness.” 

The open dining area is injected with color via custom
Steve + Filip Design dining chairs by Eurocraft that are covered in a Big Stripe by Paul Smith textile from Maharam. Robert Allen’s Elegant Sheer drapery fabric in Dusk, fabricated by Edco Drapery Workroom, softens the room’s hard edges and filters the bright sunlight.

Custom Concrete Fireplace with Leather Armchairs

A source of comfort is the fireplace the designers added to the end of the long dining area, where a custom concrete mantel anchors a cozy seating area set off by a Moroccan-style shag rug. “There are a few places where people congregate when we entertain, and that’s one of them,” the wife says with a laugh, pointing out their dog— a rescue mutt named Riley—is the biggest fan. 

A custom concrete fireplace surround conceived by Steve + Filip Design anchors a seating area furnished with a pair of Paulistano armchairs with cognac leather seats, originally designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and Nuevo’s Sussex floor lamp. Eurocraft made the custom Steve + Filip Design tufted ottoman.

Kitchen with Pure White Countertops and Contrasting Dark Kitchen Cabinets

To introduce an industrial feel into the space, the designers stripped some walls of their drywall to expose the concrete structural columns underneath. At first, “it was this vanilla box with beige walls,” Malyszko describes. Exposing the concrete, he explains, adds a textural element the home was lacking. One such column anchors a new, much larger island in the kitchen. Another frames custom cabinetry between the sleeping and seating areas in the master suite, which the designers created by eliminating the wall between two small adjoining bedrooms. “This place has a pretty unique shape, and we thought we could do some interesting things with it,” the husband says, “but we were blown away by their ideas.” 

Pure white countertops from
Caesarstone and Crossville tile with a matte finish from Virginia Tile provide a crisp contrast to the custom kitchen cabinetry with a walnut finish from New Style Cabinets. The barstools from Room & Board sport canvas upholstery by Sunbrella.

Gray Variations Master Bedroom with Wall Art and Chicago Skyline View

In the master suite, a Weitzner shifu wallcovering from Donghia complements the Chelsea Gray paint from Benjamin Moore and the upholstered headboard from Room & Board. The Nelson Saucer pendant lamp from Design Within Reach brightens from above.

Detail of Gray Variations Master Bedroom

One of several wallcoverings used throughout the interior, the master bedroom features woven Japanese paper. “The paper has a cool graphic quality, and in this context it looks like a marble wall,” Somogyi says, explaining how it adds a level of softness and comfort that cannot be achieved with paint. 

Cerno’s modern geometric LED bedside sconces from Lightology illuminate the white marble tops of the steel-based nightstands by Nuevo. The Italian tipped satin bedding is from RH.

Chicago Chair and Sliding Wood Panel

To add more texture and create another focal point, the wall between the living and dining areas was clad with planks of reclaimed wood that have been charred and stained black, creating an effect inspired by the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique. “I remember Steve hugging one of the walls, saying, ‘I’m obsessed with the idea of wrapping this wall with reclaimed wood,’ ” the wife recalls. “Their energy is so infectious.” 

Think bigger. That was the advice designers Steve Somogyi and Filip Malyszko suggested to a recently married couple about the redesign of their new apartment in a 10-year-old building with expansive skyline views in the bustling West Loop. “They initially brought us in just to decorate,” Malyszko says of the revamp, “but they were so young and hip, and the place had so much potential, that we really wanted to make it spectacular.” 

Bringing in builder John Wozniak—who worked on the initial development of the unit with FitzGerald Associates Architects, the firm that also served as the architect of record for the renovation—Somogyi and Malyszko carved out a space from the unnecessarily large laundry room, creating a much larger master bathroom with spa-like amenities, as requested by the wife, a busy physician. “I have a stressful job and enjoy taking time for a steam shower,” she explains. “It’s so nice to have all of these comforts.” 

Although the scope of the project ballooned far beyond their early intentions, the owners are thrilled with the results of their new abode. “Steve and Filip pushed our limits, but we’re so happy we did this with them,” the wife says. “My husband’s style and my style were pretty divergent, but this place marries it together in ways we never expected. As I walk through the house, it makes me smile.

Tate Gunnerson