How This Chicago Designer Took Her Historic Home To The Next Level


living room with gray sectional,...

A custom sectional in Perennials mohair and Keleen leather sets a cozy tone in the family room of Donna and Dominick Mondi’s historic Chicago condo. The rug from Lapchi offers a subtle bordeaux color. Photography by Natalie Nowotarski (left) and Scout (right) make a bold statement.

room with gray upholstered chair,...

The family room’s Artistic Frame chair, paired with a Modern Millwork Innovations table and vintage floor lamp, has rich texture thanks to the Zinc Textile fabric. Leslie Weaver’s artwork plays perfectly with the Boriana Mihailovska piece to the right.

living room with coffered ceilings,...

For the living room, designer Donna Mondi sourced French chairs from The Golden Triangle, a Mattaliano sofa and Holly Hunt sconces. With no overhead lighting, she installed luminescent glass bars from Sklo on the wall.

kitchen with high-gloss black cabinetry...

Fumed-eucalyptus base cabinetry, polished-nickel-and-glass cupboards—both by New Style Cabinets, Inc.—and countertops in Explosion White quartzite from Calia Stone Boutique outfit the kitchen. The Urban Electric Co. pendant suspends above.

bedroom with cherry blossom illustrated...

In a guest bedroom, three panels hand-embellished by Studio Lunaris hang behind the Holly Hunt bed. Mondi designed the Lucite cuff nightstands, which are part of her EnVie collection. They are topped with lamps from Baker.

white vanity in a bathroom...

“With a few aesthetic updates, we have a new primary bath,” muses Mondi, who added a new runner from Oscar Isberian Rugs and partnered it with a vanity chair from EnVie upholstered in a fuchsia Pierre Frey mohair.

It’s not that there was anything wrong with interior designer Donna Mondi’s kitchen. As someone who lived with Calacatta marble countertops and white inset cabinets for nine years, she knew they functioned well and looked good. She had designed the interiors of the home on East Lake Shore Drive that she shares with her husband, Dominick, nearly a decade ago but kept the existing kitchen. Though it didn’t reflect her glamorous yet edgy, bold but elegant style, “it was fine,” she says.

But eventually Mondi was ready to put her personal stamp on the room, and while she was at it, reimagine the condo’s flow and refresh other rooms to align with her evolving tastes. She redesigned the layout and brought on builder Adam Masters for the renovation. The apartment, in a historic limestone building designed by architecture firm Fugard & Knapp on one of the most picturesque streets in Chicago, contained segmented rooms with multiple entry points. To gain additional square footage in the kitchen, she sealed an entry from the dining room, resulting in more space for countertops and storage. 

Incorporating the architectural equivalent of a sexy stiletto, Mondi installed glossy, no-hiding-fingerprints-anywhere, pitch-dark lower cabinets. “They have held up surprisingly well,” she says. “You can see the depth of the lacquer finish. It’s not as precious as you’d think.” The ebony bases are counterbalanced by a wall of glass-fronted cabinets with creamy interiors, some with false panels to conceal wall utilities that couldn’t be moved. They simply disappear, she explains, and “your eye goes to the drama of the kitchen.” 

Streaked with heavy black veining, quartzite blankets the island, countertops and backsplash and, in an unexpected treatment, crests into a thick, bullnose ledge on one wall. “That shelf is everything,” Mondi says. “Most clients want to use every square inch of space instead of having something that is more decorative than functional.” Topped with her vintage finds and select artwork, “it made perfect sense to me and fits the architectural style of the home,” she adds.

That nod to the home’s historic design doesn’t end with the kitchen. Saunter into the living room for a grandiose gesture. Mondi had previously installed plasterwork in a fractured pattern on the ceiling, a modern interpretation of the Old World style found throughout the Classical Revival building. To refresh the space and bring in more light, she blended historic with contemporary, applying antiqued-mirror tiles and adding new sconces above the fireplace. Bars of Czech glass with amber interiors take the place of more expected art on the walls and help compensate for the lack of overhead lighting. “It feels like the space goes on,” the designer says. “Everything in this room grabs the light in a good way.” 

While luxury reigns supreme, that doesn’t mean there is a lack of coziness. In fact, layers of warmth and texture are a defining part of the design. In the family room, a mohair-and-leather sectional paired with bold patterned pillows invites lounging in front of the custom fluted media cabinet. 

In the primary bedroom, dazzling gold-and-white paper animates walls while an off-white velvet dresses the tufted headboard. Mondi accessorized the room with classic crystal lamps and artwork by Josh Young that romanticizes the couples’ favorite cities in Europe. “We wanted this sexy vibe in the bedroom,” she says. The designer repainted cabinetry in the primary bath and added wood trim to the vanity mirror. Mondi also installed a new rug and chair. “We lightened everything up in a soft, warm palette,” she adds.

The main sleeping quarters are not the only bedroom that saw a decor overhaul. Mondi also transformed Dominick’s adult daughter’s former bedroom. “I turned it into a room for everyone,” Mondi says. She reupholstered the bed in an oyster-colored fabric and switched out the bedding. But the true centerpiece is the set of oversize panels with images of cherry blossoms hand-embellished by Studio Lunaris.

The final result? A home that represents Mondi’s passion for incorporating classical elements into modern design. “I get excited by doing something creative and blending old and new, which has been in my heart forever,” she muses. “So many different styles are represented in our home. You don’t know when this was designed. It could have been 20 years ago and it could be 20 years from now.”