A residence tucked into a lush corner lot in the affluent North Shore village of Winnetka came early into the lives of one young couple. “We designed the house in a transitional manner that would appropriately reflect the lifestyle of a husband and wife just entering their thirties,” explains interior designer Richard Menna, “but, we made sure that it was one they could grow into.”
From the ground up, the exterior of the home recalls a historic English manor wrapped in a well-balanced combination of Connecticut stone, handmade Lorraine white brick and Vermont slate roofing. “The concept was a neo-Georgian house,” says builder Steven Aisen, who worked closely with architect Sergio Estenssoro, “yet imbued with classic American Colonial influences.”
Upon arrival in the grand oval foyer, with its limestone floor and impressive staircase, the eye is drawn through the regal space to the family room beyond. “The house is symmetrical from its entrance axis to the family room at the rear,” notes Estenssoro. “When you enter, the living area is directly to your right; the dining room, on the left.”
Incorporating this symmetry into the interiors, Menna created a furniture scheme in which elements mirror each other in perfect proportion. In the living room, for example, the designer placed two sofas from Anees Upholstery, each with its own walnut-finished coffee table from Vas Design, facing each other and framing the fireplace. The result: a symmetrical appropriation that at once provides a classic feel and addresses the smaller size of the room. A mixed media on canvas by M. Ellen Cocose hangs above the vignette aiding in the warm aesthetic.
A soft palette of gray, beige and taupe furthers the sense of casual elegance. “The house is large, and our use of appropriately scaled furniture, as well as muted colors, made a beautiful and livable space possible,” says Menna. “It’s very tranquil. The interior definitely picks up the feeling of a country manor home.”
This country manor vibe continues in the family room, where an earth-toned sofa and four armchairs upholstered in a subtle yet intriguing Pindler & Pindler fabric surround a Bausman & Company wood plank coffee table. Rustic charm extends into the breakfast area with a scrubbed alder wood table offset by a dark hutch, while the dining room offers a more formal aesthetic anchored by an antiqued silver-leaf-finished chandelier from Holly Hunt suspended above a Hickory Chair mahogany table and an ample selection of seating. For the art, the couple took an unusual approach. “Rather than acquire pieces, we met with art consultant Nancy Hoffman and she commissioned work that would perfectly suit both the house and the couple’s taste,” says Menna.
The home’s casual elegance prevails outdoors with multiple terraces featuring elegant Brown Jordan furnishings, an oversize pool and spa complete with adjacent elevated pergola, and even a koi pond. “I always start with function,” says landscape architect Edward S. Fried. “These clients entertain a lot, and also wanted the property to feel private.” In response, Fried planted extensively, and gave the site the feel of a small park, with large trees on the perimeter working toward smaller specimens closer in and perennials strategically placed around the house. The result is a lush landscape that appears to have been there for many years.
Not only is the residence beautiful and its property feels established, but the owners are thrilled with the outcome. “This was the first house we built,” says the husband. “It was stressful as times, but the finished product was so well worth it.”