Living through a major home renovation is never easy, even for the most laid-back homeowner. But interior designer Amy Kartheiser’s clients Rahul and Natalie Danak are an exception to the rule. They maintained a Zen-like calm as Kartheiser reimagined their brick-clad, three-level Lakeview abode, which had a dated, early-aughts look. “Natalie never got flustered,” Kartheiser recalls. “Even though the house was a chaotic mess, it felt serene.”
This was a good omen, because serenity was exactly what Natalie, a mixed-media artist and feng shui adherent, wanted for the space. While she describes herself as free-spirited—even bohemian—Rahul pictured a simpler, more modern vibe. The couple asked Kartheiser to marry their styles in a harmonious way. “When you see balance, you feel balanced,” Natalie says.
The palette was inspired in large part by Natalie’s artwork, which she had modestly kept out of sight, piled in a spare bedroom. But Kartheiser convinced her to bring it out of hiding. “I’m a crafty artist hoarder,” laughs Natalie. “I don’t like to put a lot of my stuff out, but Amy encouraged me to do this.” Invigorated by Kartheiser’s support, Natalie even took it a step further and created a custom piece for above the new limestone fireplace mantel. In fact, the entire design of the living room was planned around making her art pop. “I like a negative background, so that the art and furnishings speak for themselves,” says Kartheiser. A round-back gray sofa and curvaceous blue swivel chairs—all covered in velvet—surround a lacquered cocktail table with a pearlescent sheen that also eschews straight lines. “Even though the colors are cool, we made it feel warm and cozy by layering all these different textures,” Kartheiser says, noting that the curves likewise juxtapose the room’s sharp edges.
The use of texture continues in the adjacent open dining area, where a three-tiered, coco-beaded chandelier softly illuminates the space. Below one of Natalie’s triptychs, a white buffet with doors carved in a sinuous pattern adds an artistic touch that spoke to Natalie straightaway. “The embossed and carved doors have interest,” says Kartheiser. “She loved that artistic detail.”
In between the living and dining room, a Moroccan-style light fixture hovers over the piano. Drawn to the room’s new vibe, the couple’s three children are using the area more than they have in years. “It’s calling everybody to go there, relax and create,” Natalie says. “It’s added this whole new energy to the house.” That’s also true of the great room, where a neutral rug frames a sectional sofa in front of a media cabinet with brass grated doors that was inspired by a brass overhead light. A round cocktail table balances the room’s linear dimensions. The space faces the open kitchen, which Kartheiser completely reimagined with new cabinetry and quartzite countertops. A steel hood with brass accents complements the nickel hardware. “Natalie doesn’t mind mixing metals,” Kartheiser notes.
That vibe extends to the bathrooms. In the powder room, a gold floral wallcovering enlivens a clean-lined brass vanity with a marble sink, perfectly blending Rahul and Natalie’s styles. And in the master bathroom, a floral-like pendant softens the room’s grid-like marble wall tile. Over the floating walnut vanities, a pair of black steel mirrors with leather straps adds another layer. “Natalie loves the combination of different elements, so that her home is not the same as everyone else’s,” Kartheiser says.
There’s little chance of that being the case. Even the front door is stained a golden hue for good luck, another tenet of feng shui. The couple is thrilled with the way Kartheiser seamlessly balanced their respective styles, and the result has been a big hit with their three children as well. “The kids bring a lot of friends over now, and we’ve been having a lot more dinner parties,” Natalie says.
The design refresh is also paying off when it comes to Natalie’s artistic endeavors, she reports: She will soon be hosting receptions to showcase her colored-ink-on-rice-paper series and a new line of vases. “I’ve always wanted to host those kinds of events here, but I didn’t think the space reflected my style,” Natalie says. “Amy did a great job making this our dream house.”