Designers Filip Malyszko and Steve Somogyi have established themselves as color experts—setting the standard for how to mix bold shades and strong patterns in exactly the right way. And that’s what they presented to a cosmopolitan couple who had recently bought a four-level abode in Lincoln Park that was under construction by developer Chris McKinnis. But the wife had other ideas. “This isn’t what I’m looking for,” she recalls telling the pair of their vibrant concept. “I want the house to feel peaceful and clean.”
Undeterred, the designers went back to the drawing board and returned with a design that replaced color with contrast, texture and subtle pattern. “The wife is a chic woman who loves travel and fashion,” Malyszko says. “She was seeking a certain level of sophistication for the interiors.”
The palette may have changed to a neutral one, but the design is anything but dull. Such as in the formal living room, where a curvaceous sofa and a sculptural chair—both covered in white fabric—pop against a custom black Marquina quartzite fireplace mantel in a satin finish. Architectural details incorporated by McKinnis, such as the protruding Venetian plaster wall and a contemporary stepped ceiling, play starring roles—all painted slightly different shades of white to distinguish them oh-so-subtly from one another. The neutrals carry into the family room, where a plush sectional sofa faces a second Marquina quartzite fireplace flanked by open bookshelves, their backs adorned with a patterned wallcovering. “It was subtle enough that our client felt like it would be okay,” Malyszko says. “It adds glamour and style.”
Glamour, in fact, is present in every room. Sparkle appears throughout: A Baccarat crystal chandelier, which the wife had always wanted—“My grandmother has one,” she notes—illuminates a cerused silver walnut table in the formal dining room. The signature single ruby-red crystal of the chandelier inspired a custom abstract painting by Adriana Dorta that features a central square in the same color. It’s one of many pieces from the owners’ extensive art collection. A portrait by a contemporary of Picasso, for example, stands out against the rift-cut oak paneling in the first-floor powder room, where the Iceberg quartzite countertop glows thanks to built-in illumination. “It’s dazzling,” Somogyi says.
As is the kitchen, in its own distinct way. Three walls of floor-to-ceiling gray wood cabinetry with brass details, a large quartzite-topped center island and a stainless steel hood impart sleek sophistication. The designers then added a pair of ultra-modern pendants and handmade black-and-brass Gabriel Scott stools to integrate sculptural elements.
The master bedroom, on the other hand, is a cloud-like space containing barely a hint of color. Malyszko and Somogyi used texture to create interest, covering the walls in an ivory-hued linen that closely matches the plush area rug, linen drapes and low-slung, wall-to-wall upholstered headboard. “You’re encapsulated by fabric, so there’s a subtle depth,” Malyszko says. The relaxing milieu carries over into the adjacent spa-like bathroom, where a dark Venice marble countertop complements the gray-stained oak cabinetry, white Carrara marble walls and Thassos marble flooring. “It adds a little bit of oomph,” Somogyi says, pointing out that they lined the portals to the shower and water closet with the same stone.
The designers flipped the script in the moody third-floor media room, where walls wrapped in gray wool drapery and an ultra-plush black wool rug make a moody backdrop for a white sectional sofa. Along one wall, a recessed niche houses dark-stained wood cabinetry accented with brass hardware. “We wanted to create a sanctuary,” explains Malyszko. And it truly is the perfect place to cozy up on a snowy Chicago day.
But, if the sun is shining, there’s another ideal place to relax. Outside the husband’s fourth-floor office, landscape designer Ashley Joyce created a full outdoor living space, complete with an elevated, porcelain-tiled lounge area. A mix of native grasses, hydrangea and assorted flowering plants adds texture and color. “It’s not only high style, it’s also very functional,” Joyce says. “Very serene and peaceful—an oasis.”
That could be said of the entire house, where the designers proved that, while they may be known for their use of a multitude hues, they know how to do white right. “Steve and I love color,” says Malyszko, “but this client gave us a challenge to create a luxurious shell that showcases their art and furniture collection. So we created layers and depth within that neutral palette.”