In an era of Pinterest, design blogs and Instagram, homeowners approach their design teams armed with a myriad of ideas about everything from cantilevered balconies to sofa upholstery. So it was a rare moment when Courtney and Jeff Waters walked into designers Aimee Wertepny and Lauren Warnock’s office without a single image of what they wanted for their brand-new Hinsdale home. “There weren’t many parameters,” says Warnock, who worked on the house with Wertepny, founder of Project Interiors. “Courtney prefers modern, sophisticated design, and Jeff is more of a traditionalist at heart. The home had a beautiful floor plan, but was really a blank slate interiors-wise, which made it especially fun.”
The couple had a similarly open conversation with residential designer Patrick Fortelka. “‘Make it edgy and creative,’ they told me. Then they just let us do what we do,” says Fortelka. “That’s where you get the most creative solutions.” In the case of the Waterses’ home, that artistic license led to a house in an architectural style that marries elements of the English Arts and Crafts movement with midcentury modern design. “It’s a neat hybrid,” Fortelka says. “It’s transitional on steroids.” A slate roof tops the stone-and-stucco structure built by Dave Knecht and project manager Mike Zalud—typical materials for the neighborhood. But the architectural geometry leans toward modernism. For instance, a Wrightian entrance is tucked on the side of the entry, inviting guests to “discover” the home, “instead of presenting the whole house at once,” Fortelka says.
The interior is equally unconventional, thwarting the overworked stereotypes of the typical family home, though the couple have three school-age children, two dogs, a cat, and a horse. “At our first meeting, Courtney told me she wanted an urban vibe—the heartbeat that exists in the city,” Warnock says. “One of the most beautiful things about Chicago is the architecture, and we wanted to keep the architectural integrity established by Patrick and enhance it throughout the home.” One of the finest examples is the open-riser staircase with 3-inch-thick light-colored treads and a glass-and-steel railing. The openness offers a three-story view up or down the staircase, which is hugged by a wall adorned with a peacock feather-inspired wallcovering and lit by sconces.
That urban vibe also had to satisfy the traditional leanings favored by Jeff. “We were able to achieve this balance through the details,” says Warnock, pointing to the dining room, where plaster with its old-world beauty displays a contemporary geometric pattern on the ceiling. Venetian plaster, another timeless material, covers the walls; the moody charcoal hue provides a modern feel. Throughout the public spaces, Warnock skipped traditional casing in the doorways and chose dark slabs of rift-cut oak with a subtle cove detail to soften the look and give a nod to Jeff’s preferences.
Warnock also kept in mind the home’s youngest residents. “We didn’t want it to be museum-like,” says Courtney. “I wanted it to be comfortable and pretty: a place where my kids would want to hang out with their friends.” Warnock delivered, choosing hard-wearing upholstery, such as Pindler & Pindler’s performance-driven Bristol Stone fabric for the custom sectional in the family room. She then covered most of the main-level floors in St. Andrews antiqued stone from Chadwick’s Surfaces International, usually used outdoors. “It’s indestructible,” Courtney says. “I love that I can relax and enjoy our home, and not fuss at the kids for being kids.”
Courtney has a more difficult time identifying her favorite element of the home: The staircase is a top contender, but she’s also effusive about the sunken family room with its floor-to-ceiling windows that show off 100-year-old trees in the backyard and landscaping by Premier. And then there’s the master bedroom with its sensual combination of textures: a velvet headboard, Moroccan wedding blanket, soft Surya rug, and grass-cloth-clad coffered ceiling. “I hoped that when we turned our home over to this team, they’d give us something amazing, but I never expected all of this,” Courtney says. Turns out, the home’s crowning achievement is that there’s just so much to love.