Texas native Jeremiah Bickham was excited to put down roots in Chicago, but the process took a little longer than he expected. The thirtysomething bachelor, who’d moved to the Windy City for his career, spent 18 months evaluating dozens of real estate listings—often viewing up to 10 units per day online. Few were worth seeing in person, and none made his heart leap. Then one day, the seventh-floor penthouse of a century-old former textile factory in the West Loop with high ceilings, ample natural daylight and industrial character hit the market. By the time the sun set, he had made an offer. “They don’t make them like this anymore,” he muses. “It was love at first sight.”
While Jeremiah adored the early 20th-century bones, the dated decor and finishes from the condo’s most recent update in the 1990s left much to be desired. After inhabiting the space for two years, he commissioned interior designer Devon Wegman to oversee a down-to-the-studs renovation that took nearly 18 months. “Jeremiah had a very specific vision and wanted every inch completely customized in detail,” Wegman says. “That resulted in an even stronger design because it’s so fine-tuned to him.”
Striking the right balance was crucial. “We love raw elements, but we wanted the space to feel elevated” says the designer, who worked with builder Pete Gemmel. This meant material choices were key. In the open kitchen, an exposed concrete column and copper piping comfortably coexist with wire-brushed white oak cabinetry and elegant white marble countertops. Steps away, luxurious porcelain wall tile serves as a backsplash in the newly created oak bar area with open shelving and a built-in wine refrigerator. “The tile is polished but still gives a nod to the raw ruggedness of the space,” Wegman explains.
While many of the designer’s clients shy away from finishes that are less durable, Jeremiah relished the opportunity to incorporate whatever his heart desired—which included some higher-maintenance selections. Made of a patinated living brass, the custom range hood must be waxed regularly to maintain its appearance. And despite marble’s reputation as a porous and easily stainable stone, Jeremiah had no qualms about using it throughout the interior. In the living room, for example, a tailored sectional sofa and a pair of low-slung chairs surround a marble cocktail table. The veiny stone also clads the walls of the main bathroom, accented by gray porcelain tile and warm oak cabinetry. “Jeremiah wanted a dramatic, luxurious feel,” Wegman says, pointing to the fluted-marble accent tiles in the shower.
That fluted detail is echoed in the adjacent bedroom, where Wegman covered the wall behind the headboard in handcrafted slatted oak stained in a rich, dark hue. While Jeremiah was at first unsure about that decision, Wegman convinced him it would contribute to the posh hotel room vibe he envisioned, and it has since become one of his favorite elements—especially at night when the lamp light creates dramatic shadows. “It adds so much warmth,” he says.
Wegman also created a strong focal point in the upstairs loft, incorporating a custom dark-stained media cabinet with white marble countertops and open shelving that floats in front of an antiqued mirror backsplash. “This space is meant to have a nostalgic vibe, almost like a speakeasy,” Wegman explains. Touches of brass in the overhead and floor lighting create a warm cozy glow at the end of the day when Jeremiah relaxes on the room’s green crushed-velvet sofa. “It has a Mad Men-esque style,” the designer says of the showstopping piece. “That’s his place to unwind and relax.”
The true success of the project can be credited to Wegman’s ability to understand what Jeremiah desired from his home. “I’m not a designer,” Jeremiah notes. “I don’t ‘speak’ design. But I would describe what I wanted to Devon and she would translate that into beautiful, functional elements.” And once those elements all came together, Jeremiah says the reality turned out even better than the renderings. “It’s a unique space with a lot of history that I wanted to honor,” he adds, noting the sense of joy he feels when entering the well-appointed space. “We nailed it.”