Patty Fox has a rock-and-roll heart. She grew up attending Rolling Stones concerts and met her husband while Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” played. Once the children were grown, she and her husband, Jim, decided to downsize to a Chicago condo–and that’s where she decided to let her love of music shine. “We wanted to live in a condo because I wasn’t into preserving a large, single-family house that was only full during the holidays,” she explains. “We found one in a great Lincoln Park location with a large terrace, and I wanted it remodeled with a rock-and-roll spirit. While we were raising our children, our home was more traditional and calm, but with the kids gone it was time to do something different.” The family hired Summer Thornton because Patty sensed the designer’s fearless use of color and pattern could help make her dream a reality. Thornton recalls that when she first saw it, “The condo was done in dark colors and, frankly, kind of depressing,” she says. “We wanted to make the space lighter and happy.”
Thornton and her associate, designer Jenny Holladay, decided to manipulate the spirit and proportions of the home with color and new moldings. Throughout, walls were given a fresh coat of white paint. “In addition to reflecting the natural light around the rooms, the color made the space feel chic and young,” she says. Narrow applied molding panels were added to the unadorned walls, and the designers say the resulting lines lift the eye and make the rooms feel taller. This strategy is perhaps most evident in the entry, where the rectangular molding pattern sends one’s gaze toward a ceiling covered with a hand-marbled black, gray and gold wallcovering. Before the remodel, the designers describe the space as “a dim gray box.” With the addition of the patterned ceiling, a Slim Aarons photograph of Italy’s Lake Como and a bright-green rug, the new vibe is more surprise and delight than dark and dreary.
Given that the couple’s furniture collection was primarily country French, the designers decided a stylistic reset was in order. They jettisoned much of it in favor of colorful pieces, abstract modern art and, in some cases, striking patterns. “Every room has its rock-and-roll moment,” says Holladay, citing the cheetah-print upholstery on a pair of armchairs in the living room. “They definitely provide the Mick Jagger vibe there.” The back-up musicians in the space are also applause-worthy, including an acid-green sofa, a black-marble mantel with curvy lines, cobalt-blue sconces and an art print depicting none other than Jagger himself.
The adjacent kitchen and dining area’s star attraction is the oversize hexagon-shaped marble tile on the backsplash, whose dark lines evoke a honeycomb. There’s no formal dining room, as the designers and clients opted instead for a large L-shaped tufted banquette. “This used to be a dismal little corner,” remembers Thornton. “But when we added the chic banquette and installed mirrors in the paneled insets, it became cool. And we made sure it’s big enough for the whole family.” A table with a smoked-glass top and a brass base and modern chairs with black-leather seats and brass legs are edgy accents.
For Patty, her personal office is particularly special. The walls are covered with apricot-colored grass cloth, and a coral velvet sofa with a tassel trim is a bold focal point. “The black-and-white photograph shows Versailles,” says Holladay. “It’s fitting, as Patty is the queen of this room.” That title was a long time coming. “I grew up in a large family, and this is the first time in my life I’ve had my own space,” says Patty. “Orange is one of my favorite colors, and the warm tones here make the office feel comfortable and cozy. This is where I come to listen to music, watch Netflix and meditate. I call it my ‘boudoir,’ and I love it.”
The spirit of personal joie de vivre extends to the outdoors as well, where the designers installed a long dining table and a more private, fabric-draped seating area they refer to as the “cabana” on the sizable terrace. “This is a special feature for a condo in an urban area,” notes Thornton. “The winters in Chicago are long, so we wanted them to be able to make the most of their outdoor space during the warm weather.” Patty says they can be found there reading, dining or enjoying a cup of coffee most days during the spring and summer.
For the designers, the satisfaction comes from creating a home that mirrors their clients’ personalities. “Patty and Jim have lively spirits and positive outlooks on life, and we wanted their home to reflect that,” says Thornton. “This home is vibrant, happy and fun–it’s the perfect environment for them.”