Crown Jewel in Chicago


Dramatic First Impression Foyer

Porter Teleo’s hand-painted inkblot wallcovering from David Sutherland and a colorful vintage Turkish kilim rug by Djoharian from 1stdibs create a dramatic first impression in the entry foyer. The acrylic Waterfall console is by New York-based Aaron R. Thomas, and the stool is from Atelier Gary Lee. The antique brass mosaic mirror is from Pavilion Antiques

Tailored Yet Comfortable

A tailored yet comfortable custom sofa by Studio Gild—covered in cotton-velvet Brochier fabric from Lucid Collections—and a pair of swivel chairs from Haute Living form a space for conversation near the fireplace in the living area. The black-resin side table with mother-of-pearl circle inlay is from Oly Studio.

Colorful Oil Painting Backdrop

In the living area, an abstract oil painting by America Martin is a colorful backdrop to a vintage tufted Milo Baughman lounge chair from 1stdibs, which was re-covered in gray Moore & Giles suede from Thayer Coggin.

Concealed Barware

Studio Gild designed the custom walnut bar cabinet, with brass hardware, which elegantly conceals barware in the living area while adding a layer of texture in the form of embossed-shagreen panels.

Jewel-Toned Palette

A wool-and-silk rug from Tai Ping with an abstract pattern establishes the home’s jewel-toned palette in the main living area. The custom lacquered cocktail table with a leather-inset top is by Studio Gild. A polished-brass side table from Jonathan Adler is one of many brass elements throughout the home.

Relax and Chat

A custom welded-steel bench designed by Studio Gild, covered in a Mirage vinyl fabric from Holly Hunt, provides a spot to relax and chat in the kitchen. The photograph over the bench is by Baldemar Fierro and was framed by Seaberg Picture Framing.

Whimsy and Illumination

In the dining room, Apparatus’ Cloud 19 chandelier with frosted glass orbs provides a sense of whimsy and illumination. The custom gray-stained walnut table is by Studio Gild, and the brass dining chairs—covered in striped Maharam fabric from Knoll—are from Lawson-Fenning. The polished- lacquer console with a black matte metal frame is by Studio Gild.

Textured Office

Phillip Jeffries’ cork wallcovering from Holly Hunt introduces texture into the office, which is furnished with built-in cabinetry and an oak swivel chair from Tabisso in France. The custom cowhide rug by Studio Gild is from Oscar Isberian Rugs. Michael Anastassiades’ brass table lamp is from Atelier Gary Lee.

Floral-Graffiti Bathroom Wallcovering

A vibrant floral-graffiti wallcovering by Porter Teleo from David Sutherland complements the existing wall tile in the intimate powder room. The vintage Austrian bubble sconces flanking the mirror were purchased from Orange in Los Angeles through 1stdibs.

Comfortable, Serene Guest Bathroom

Sheer draperies from Romo and an upholstered headboard from Room & Board enhance the comfortable, serene feeling in the guest bedroom. The black- lacquered nightstand with a white marble top is from New York-based Organic Modernism, and the crackled-celadon glaze table lamp is by Arteriors.

“We’re here to tell our clients’ story,” says interior designer Kristen Ekeland of the sprawling full- floor apartment in River North that she—along with partners Melissa Benham and Jennie Bishop—designed for a young couple and their daughter. “This apartment has a very urban feel to it, and they were drawn to that immediately,” says Ekeland, pointing to the unit’s large white walls and expansive windows with black frames. “They knew what kind of aesthetic they were attracted to, but they relied on us to bring it all together.” 

After a 10-year stint of living in smaller New York apartments, the couple was excited to find such a spacious unit in their target location. “This is a sweet little pocket of the city that is still within walking distance to all the action,” the wife says. “It enabled us to have the kind of very urban lifestyle that we had grown accustomed to in New York, but it also has a quieter atmosphere, which made it more welcoming for our daughter.” 

Creating a low-key vibe wasn’t on the designers’ minds, however, when they decorated the small front foyer with a graphic inkblot wallcovering. Paired with a Lucite console table and a vibrant vintage Turkish kilim rug, the mural-like covering is one of several throughout the home, including one with hand-painted butterflies in their daughter’s bedroom. “The foyer sets the tone for the rest of the apartment,” Bishop explains. “It creates the drama and lets you know that you’re not in a typical space.” 

An arched passageway leads directly into the bright and open great room, where a large wool-and-silk rug helps to define the conversation area around the contemporary gray-brick replace and acts as a piece of art in itself. “The rug is painterly, almost like a very saturated watercolor,” Ekeland says. “With the austere architecture, we felt like we needed something spectacular.” Picking up on the rug’s blue notes is a custom sofa that is perfectly proportioned for the spacious room and echoes the sizable dimensions of the gray-stained walnut dining table, which has blackened- metal reveals at either end. “We love to entertain, and before going out to eat we enjoy having our friends over for cocktail hour,” says the wife, “so we wanted larger pieces to accommodate a lot of people hanging out.” 

A custom walnut bar cabinet with leather doors facilitates entertaining in the living area and was specifically designed for the husband, an amateur mixologist. Its brass hardware is one of many elements in the room, which also includes a side table made of resin with reflective mother-of-pearl and polished-brass tabletop accessories. “We wanted to add some gold air,” Benham says. “It wasn’t just about incorporating the metallic accents, but it was also in the layering of thoughtful moments that represented the clients’ story. That’s what brings it all together to make it feel like a home.” 

Art introduces yet another dimension—and one of critical importance for the owners, who have begun to collect large-scale pieces, including a colorful abstract by America Martin that hangs behind a vintage tufted chair in the living area. “The apartments in New York are smaller than average, so we didn’t have this kind of freedom there,” the wife says. “The ladies at Studio Gild were great consultants, and we valued their opinion and aesthetic.” 

The designers also made minor architectural changes, closing off the husband’s offce from the hallway, for example, and adding built-in walnut cabinetry to the den, which doubles as the daughter’s playroom, too. “They wanted their home to be catered to adults, but they wanted it to be comfortable and practical for their daughter, as well.” Benham explains. “So, we juxtaposed sophistication with practicality.” 

That balance is especially seamless in the master suite, where a custom white wool headboard—along with floor- to-ceiling draperies and a sculptural chair covered in shearling—offsets a black ceiling and walls. “We created a space that’s really cozy,” Ekeland says. “It’s dark, but it has an ethereal feeling to it, which makes it different than your typical bedroom.” In fact, the owners say it’s their favorite spot in the house, particularly the partially enclosed seating area, where a comfortable white sofa balances the moody walls and various pops of color bring in the jewel tones that the wife loves so much. Additionally, French doors open to a private balcony with views of the bustling urban scene below. “It’s our snuggly nook,” the wife explains. “At the end of the day, we love to go back there and decompress.” 

With the owners now happily settled in their new abode, they are over the moon with how it looks and functions. “The black-and-white backdrop was a beautiful blank canvas for us to come in and put our own touches on,” the wife says. “The ladies at Studio Gild took inspiration from our ideas and dialed them up a couple of notches with their signature sophistication to achieve great results. It was a total pleasure and a lot of fun.” 


–Tate Gunnerson