This Chicago Home Proves West Coast is the Best Coast


California Dreaming in Chicago

A design team infuses a North Shore residence with West Coast vibes.

Elm Wood Altar Table with Artwork Family Room

A 19th-century elm-wood altar table from Pagoda Red and vintage bamboo stools with leather tops from The Golden Triangle anchor the back wall of the family room.

Modern Living Room with Artwork, Fireplace, and Plants

An iron console with mirrored glass shelves from Arteriors grounds the family room. Its dark finish reflects that of the window frames.

Monochromatic Off-White Living Room with Iconic Seating

In the family room, a custom Andrea Goldman Design sectional is teamed with a custom Aaron Bladon coffee table topped in Kyle Bunting hide. A petrified-wood foot stool adds an organic note next to a Womb chair by Eero Saarinen. The water-scene painting from Anne Loucks Gallery above the fireplace was a gift from the wife to the husband.

Gray Subtly Striped Dining Room with Chandelier

A Phillip Jeffries vinyl-silk-and-abaca wallcovering with a horizontal grain creates a quiet, elegant backdrop for the dining room. The table is custom, as are the chairs, covered in Great Plains fabric from Holly Hunt. The Branching bubble-light chandelier is by Lindsey Adelman.

Simple and Contemporary Glass, Stainless Steel, and Oak Staircase

A simple staircase crafted from glass, stainless steel and dark-stained rift-sawn red oak is tucked in a central corridor connecting the living spaces. An east view of the front garden is seen through the window.

Modern Kitchen Upholstered Banquette with Iconic Seating

To allow for dining for as many as 12 people, designer Andrea Goldman conceived a 15-foot-long upholstered banquette, which she paired with a reclaimed-oak-plank table from RH and white molded-plastic Eames chairs with a wire base from Design Within Reach.

Soft Wooden Kitchen with Large Range and Bar Stools

Cerused-oak cabinets in the kitchen are clean-lined and warmly modern, complementing Difiniti quartz counters and the Calacatta Gold marble backsplash. The 42-inch-long, six-burner cooktop is from Miele, and the recycled-aluminum barstools at the 4-by-10-foot island are by Emeco.

Bluestone Fireplace in Nautical Sunroom

A bluestone-clad fireplace formed by 12-by-18-inch tiles is the centerpiece of the sunroom. The all-weather nautical-rope Rutherford sofa from RH is upholstered in a textured linen-weave Perennials fabric. Cowhide chairs are from Jayson Home, as is the teardrop side table.

Open Sunroom with Telescoping Doors

Telescoping doors in the sunroom open to a bluestone-paved dining terrace, where landscaper Sara Furlan considered views from inside for her plans. On the floor is a flat-weave indoor/outdoor rug from Perennials.

Sunroom Patio Extension Exterior

Designed as an extension of the patio, the sunroom was originally designed to be just a three-season room. However, the family—especially the husband—loves it so much they began using it year-round, enjoying sitting in front of the fire all winter long.

Second Floor Lounge with Graphic Design

A lounge on the second floor just outside the bedrooms is appointed with a pair of chairs the homeowners had reupholstered in Perennials Rough ’n Rowdy performance fabric. Cisco Brothers’ Cruz bench and Arteriors’ McIntyre chandelier add interest.

Mostly White Master Bedroom with Iconic Chair and Lamp

A bank of windows that continues along a closet corridor to the master bath maximizes light in the master bedroom. The bed is upholstered in Coraggio wool and dressed with Italian linens with Missoni accent pillows. A Womb chair by Eero Saarinen is covered in a classic bouclé.

Floating Double Vanity Master Bathroom

A mounted double vanity in rift-sawn walnut warms the modern bath. Opus wall-mounted double sconces in nickel are from Waterworks, and the antique Turkish rug is from Oscar Isberian.

When the time was right to build their dream home on a nearly 1-acre site in Chicago’s North Shore, a 40-something couple chose to embrace a California style. It was an easy choice: He grew up in Los Angeles, and they both had lived in San Francisco for a time. And now they wanted to bring that same West Coast spirit to their son and daughter (aged 13 and 10, respectively) in a place with open spaces and plenty of light, all wrapped in comfort. “My husband and I have always loved indoor-outdoor living,” the wife says. “As much as we can, we try to bring nature into our home in a style that’s clean and serene with a simple aesthetic.” 

From the inside-out, designer Andrea Goldman, architect Bill Massey, builder Jon Kogan and landscape architect Sara Furlan translated the couple’s vision into a warm, contemporary home that’s laid-back but with a few exclamations. A subdued palette of blues, grays and creams dresses the interior and exterior. “They wanted a real California, easy-breezy feel,” Goldman says. “That’s why there’s no color on the walls, not a lot of pattern—just a pop of geometric shapes here and there. There’s a layering of texture, things you want to touch and feel. This house is really about the architecture and the views.” 

Adds Massey: “It definitely has a street presence. At first, it appears solid and imposing. Yet when you walk up to the front door, it becomes almost porous, as you can see right through the house.” A bluestone-paved courtyard stepping up to a raised terrace framed with low boxwood and a pair of pear trees announce the dominant three-base-front Indiana limestone, smooth trowelled stucco and dark-stain cedar façade. The modern Mediterranean features three sets of doors, plus windows stacked above to the second story, with the center entry recessed 3 feet. Mindful of the building’s scale, Furlan approached the landscaping with simplicity, incorporating plantings of varied heights. “It’s easier to decompress when there’s not a riot of things happening,” she says. “I’m a big fan of limited color. Here, greens, whites and blues keep it quiet.”

The mostly open layout presented a challenge lining up interior spaces with outside forms, and the team paid careful attention to views both inside-out and outside-in. In the entryway, the wood-paneled foyer opens into a library-like living area, a dining room and a family room. “They didn’t want a formal living space,” Goldman says of the family’s request for the front room. “So that space is the husband’s hang room—a ‘grown-up lounge’—with a big built-in wall with a TV.” Opposite is the dining room, which is “very layered, kind of monochromatic and quiet, with luxurious materials,” Goldman says. A Phillip Jeffries textured wallcovering, for instance, looks like ombré silk but is cleanable vinyl. 

The wife appreciates the practicality of luxe yet comfortable fabrics, and the wallpaper is just one of a variety of performance materials the designer incorporated throughout the home. “It’s our escape from a very busy world, so we wanted the furnishings to feel peaceful,” the wife says. “The house is really livable—it’s beautiful, warm and comfortable and very much a family house.” 

The home’s white-walled envelope is grounded by dark-stained 6-inch-wide-plank white-oak floors. However, the wife did not want a pristine white kitchen. Instead, she opted for cerused cabinetry weathered with stain and a light wash for warmth and interest. And there was one specific request: a large eat-in space, which is situated in the bay opposite the 4-by-10-foot island. There, a long rustic table is teamed with a built-in custom metal bench upholstered in a cleanable faux leather. As within each room, there’s layering and a thoughtful mix of materials: velvet, linen, wool, metal, stone, glass, woven leathers, basket, hide and shagreen. 

Nearby, a somewhat-formal family room still spells easy comfort. It’s appointed with a cozy sectional and a classic Womb chair near a simple replace framed in a mitered limestone mantel. But the home’s hands-down standout space is the sunroom, where the focus is a dramatic replace in thermal bluestone. Telescoping doors open on two sides, underscoring the relationship to terraces and beyond. “My husband likes to call it ‘the California room,’ ” the wife says. “It really is indoor-outdoor living.” 

Besides the half-sized basketball court the husband enjoys with his son, it is this sun-drenched room that is his favorite place in the home—even in winter, when he sits in front of the re. And it’s one space among many in the house that evolves throughout the year as a result of the connection to the landscape, from lush green in the summer to red and yellow in the fall—an aspect the wife loves. “Any single place you stand in the house,” she says, “you always see outside. It’s authentic.” 

–Elaine Markoutsas