A Traditional Chicago Pied-à-Terre with Intricate Craftsmanship


Traditional Neutral Bedroom with Yellow Leather Chair

The master bedroom is an elegantly appointed haven from the city. The St. George bed is from Lewis Mittman; the Niermann Weeks Elysee chair is covered in superkidskin leather from J. Robert Scott. Michigan Avenue (Across the Bridge), an oil on canvas by J. Jeffrey Grant, hangs above the fireplace.

Traditional Neutral Sitting Area with Antique French Table

The master suite’s sitting room includes a Regency Sabreleg Armchair by Rose Tarlow Melrose House and a vintage French iron- legged table with a mirrored top, the latter found at Richard Shapiro Antiques in Los Angeles. The linen carpet is from Stark; the antique rug is from Oscar Isberian.

Traditional Neutral Kitchen with Yellow Barstools

The kitchen, a collaboration with de Giulio, was to look vintage but be modern. The limestone floor, in gascogne beige honed with “suede” accents, was set in a large basket- weave pattern. The countertops, also limestone, are from Chadwick’s Surfaces International; the cabinets are La Cornue. Barstools are custom from Paul Ferrante in Los Angeles; the chairs are Janus et Cie.

Traditional Brown Game Room with Glazed Millwork

The billiards room features hand-glazed and milled woodwork and hand-waxed oak floors. The bar is by Parenti & Raffaelli; Nancy Corzine’s Waldorf barstools offer elegant spots on which to perch.The ACM Furniture ottoman is a custom design; the chairs are by John Boone. Panels in a Lee Jofa fabric frame the windows.

Traditional Cream Wine Cellar with Gold Leaf Accents

Among the new spaces in the additional wing is a wine storage hall, with custom 24-karat gold leaf-backed, temperature-controlled cabinets. The runner is antique Persian, circa 1890; the owner's Bertoia, visible at the end of the passageway, rests on a custom stand by Soane in one of the home's dramatic rotundas.

Traditional Neutral Rotunda with Mural-Painted Walls

Los Angeles-based artist Scott Waterman was commissioned to create murals in the home’s two rotundas. The chandelier and table seen in this one were custom- designed by Jessica Lagrange.

Traditional Neutral Dining Room with Branch Chandelier

A turret became the dining room, with stunning lake views visible through the room’s enormous bay window. The Randolph & Hein table can seat 26; chairs are upholstered in a Gretchen Bellinger fabric and backed with an Hermes Leather suede. Drapery panels are a combination of textiles from Rose Tarlow Melrose House, Pindler & Pindler and Kenneth Meyer. The branch-like chandelier was inspired by Gilbert Poillerat.

Traditional Neutral Foyer with Zebra-Print Chairs

The stunning foyer of this residence sets the tone for the home's mix of modern and traditional components.

Traditional Blue Living Room with French Artwork

The home’s look is a mesh of modern and classic French. Included in the formal living room is a Louis XIV oak console, a Tabriz rug from Hokanson and a Christoph sofa by Mattaliano. The Dennis & Leen wing chairs are covered in a Rose Tarlow Melrose House fabric; the drapes are faced with Bergamo’s Trama and lined with Pindler & Pindler’ s Sasha. Julio de Diego’ s Vamda hangs above the fireplace; Kathleen Blackshear’s Dancing Along the Bridge is close by.

The raw space, half of the 25th floor of architect Lucien Lagrange’s new North Lake Shore Drive building on Chicago’s Gold Coast, was to be a pied-à-terre. “The clients are empty nesters and planned to use it as a secondary residence in which to entertain,” says their longtime interior designer, Jessica Lagrange. “That’s what drove the floor plan.” So, under her direction, architect David Huggins, of Lagrange’s eponymous Chicago-based interiors firm, crafted a two-bedroom home out of the nearly 5,000-square-foot space for the prominent attorney/philanthropist and his wife, leaving plenty of room to roam at parties and fundraisers.

The couple’s affection for formal and traditional spaces—with separate areas for the kitchen, library and dining room—helped form that equation of so much space and so few bedrooms. “It wasn’t a big open plan,” says Huggins, who was responsible for the millwork and interior architecture. “Because of that, we were able to use the definition between rooms to hide columns and pipes.”

Lagrange’s responsibility was, she says, “to make the place look lived in. The idea was to make it feel as if it had been there for a hundred years, like a turn-of-the-century Parisian apartment but with modern touches.” She took inspiration from the building, what she calls a “contemporary interpretation of French Beaux Arts,” commissioning custom finishes, paneling and built-ins, even glazing the paint so it showed a patina that usually comes with age.

Given that level of detail and luxury, the owners were delighted with their new residence. There was just one tiny little problem: It could use a bit more closet space. So, when the second half of the floor became available, the attorney and his wife immediately saw the possibilities and snatched it up, doubling their square footage and allowing them to transform their pied-à-terre into a permanent home.

For the design team, the new plan posed unique challenges. “The two spaces had to be knit together,” says Michael Saltenberger, senior project manager at Chicago-based Bulley & Andrews, who handled the build-out on the first and second phases. “We were transitioning from an existing space to a new area and trying to make it look seamless.” Not only that, but the original residence had to continue to be habitable while the second portion was being carved out.

Ultimately, the connection between the two spaces was a coat closet, where the team cut through the walls. A second rotunda mirroring the first was created, and the intricate herringbone floor was painstakingly continued into the new wing. “Every single piece had to align,” says Saltenberger. A bevy of new spaces was formed, including a billiards room, media room, wine storage hall, third bedroom suite, exercise room and even a gift-wrapping room. It may sound over the top, but, because the décor and finishes match the original space so subtly, Huggins calls it “more elegant than ostentatious.”

The craftsmanship and artistry that went into the project was far beyond anything the team had worked on before: marble mosaics, domed ceilings, sterling-plated fixtures and Holland & Sherry wool draperies. “Gretchen Bellinger herself came to present the fabric for the dining room,” says Lagrange. The kitchen, designed in collaboration with de Giulio Kitchen Design, sports oversized, cream-colored subway tile, sepia-toned coverings and fabrics, and La Cornue ranges and cabinets. “I wanted the kitchen to look like it was from an old estate,” says Lagrange.

Throughout, Lagrange created a visual hierarchy: The more public a space, the more paneling and detail and the lighter the paint; the more private a space, the less paneling and the darker the shade. “It’s a very subdued palette, inspired by the lake,” she says. “There’s some bit of blue in every room.” And, by the time the two units had became a cohesive entity of one, the designer had meshed classic with modern—and accomplished what may be the biggest feat of her career. “It was the job of a lifetime,”says Lagrange,“for the client of a lifetime.”

—Lisa Selin Davis