Transitional Lake Forest Home with Classic Georgian Colonial Exterior


Traditional Brick Front Elevation with Black Shutters

The wife grew up in a center entrance Colonial, so she was especially drawn to this home, which is surrounded by over an acre of grounds where the kids can play. The windows, installed by Patrick McCann Inc, are from Marvin Windows & Doors.

Traditional Brick Exterior with Driveway

A designer guides a Lake Forest Colonial gently into modern-day Living with An open floor plan that answers a young family’s need for more space.

Transitional Pale Green Living Room with Antique Rug

In the living room of this Lake Forest home, designer Kate Marker incorporated an antique Oushak rug from Rugport, which inspired the room’s palette. Chairs by Verellen, covered in a cream bouclé with a modern herringbone pattern, flank a table by Worlds Away. The lamp is by Aerin Lauder for Visual Comfort.

Transitional Cream Foyer with Jute-and-Wool Runner

To create a showstopping foyer, marker covered the graceful stairway with a jute-and-wool runner from Bretag Floor Source. the table is by Arteriors and is paired with matching ottomans from C.A.I. designs.

Transitional Pale Green Living Room with Brass Cocktail Table

Books and treasures are displayed in the living room on an aged-brass cocktail table by Lillian August. drinks await on an Arteriors two-tiered vintage bar cart from Creative Visions. Artwork by Sarah Raskey hangs above.

Transitional Pale Green Living Room with Fireplace

A Lillian August daybed, upholstered in a modern striped linen, allows for conversations in the living room. window treatments clad in a kelly wearstler fabric from kravet hang from rods right at the ceiling to give the 8-foot-high room the illusion of greater stature. the skirted sofa is by Lee industries.

Contemporary White Kitchen with Subway Tile Backsplash

Sunpan stools pull up to kitchen countertops from Terrazzo & Marble Supply Companies that coordinate with a backsplash from Surface Group International. The cabinets were purchased through Das Holz Haus. A Kohler faucet creates shine.

Transitional White Dining Room with Arched Mirror

Marker used chairs by Verellen, upholstered in a vibrant textile from Hickory Chair, for a pop of color in the dining room. She also added a Pierre Frey wallcovering—from Holly Hunt—boldly patterned with embroidered black ribbons. The Visual Comfort chandelier was purchased through Kate Marker Interiors.

Transitional White Breakfast Area with Reclaimed Wood Table

To comfortably seat the family of five in the narrow breakfast area, Marker chose a reclaimed wood table by Dovetail Furniture. Chairs by Gabby feature cushions in a Kravet fabric; pillows fabricated by Barbara’s Design Studio adorn the head chairs. The Ralph Lauren Home chandelier was manufactured by Visual Comfort.

Transitional White Living Room with Ivory Secretary

In the open family room, an ivory secretary with a stained interior, by Thom Filicia, provides an extra workspace. The Lee Industries stool is covered in a fabric by Schumacher, purchased through the designer.

Transitional White Family Room with Built-In Shelves

A leather ottoman by Lee Industries acts as a coffee table in the family room. The sectional, also by Lee Industries, was purchased through Kate Marker Interiors, and the drapery panels—made from a Schumacher textile—were fabricated by Barbara’s Design Studio.

Transitional Gray Bedroom with Mirrored Nighstand

The master bedroom features Holland & Sherry drapery fabric. An upholstered bed by Lee Industries, purchased through Kate Marker Interiors, is covered in a quilted coverlet with custom accent pillows from bedside manor. Nightstands are by Bethel International.

Contemporary White Bathroom with Glass Chandelier

Victoria + Albert’s elegant freestanding tub was purchased at Ferguson Enterprises for the spa-like master bathroom. The roman shade is made of a Cowtan & Tout fabric. A Robert Abbey chandelier adds a glam factor.

Transitional Green Office with Charcoal Velvet Sofa

Existing cabinets in the office were painted in Benjamin Moore’s Texas Leather. A charcoal velvet sofa by Hickory Chair joins a Four Hands vin- tage trunk; the leather chair is by Hancock & Moore. A wool carpet by Masland Carpets & Rugs grounds the space.

After a couple who had been living in downtown Chicago expanded into a family of five, the search began for a more spacious home to raise their three children. Having outgrown their small townhouse, they found the space they needed in a Georgian Colonial with a sprawling backyard in bucolic Lake Forest. “My husband is from Lake Forest, and it’s a great place to raise kids,” says the wife. The 50-year-old house had undergone several renovations, however, leaving its interior with oddly segmented spaces that lacked flow, and, as much as the couple loved the home’s classic architecture, they yearned to make the house more functional and give it a fresh look.

To begin, the couple hired designer Kate Marker, along with builder and friend William H. McNaughton III. “They have a big family and they entertain a lot, so it was important to make the home not just a beautiful space, but comfortable for the kids and their extended family, as well,” Marker says. Respecting the neighborhood’s architectural vernacular was especially important to keep in mind. “The City of Lake Forest is very historically conscious, so we tried to stick with the original architect’s concept,” McNaughton says of the renovation of the entry. “The inspectors who came out from the city were very impressed with the result.”

For the interiors, the chief task was to make the floor plan more family-friendly. The kitchen was closed off from the main living space—a configuration the family had also dealt with in their previous home. “My husband is the chef of the family, so when we entertained, he was in the kitchen and everybody else was in the dining room and family room,” the wife says. To remedy the situation, the team knocked down walls to open up the kitchen to the family room and breakfast area. Now, as dad whips up a meal, he can chat with the kids as they play in the main living area. In addition, steel columns holding up the second floor, which couldn’t be removed, were instead dressed up as decorative elements. “They still create a bit of a separation, but now you can see from the kitchen through to the other side of the house,” McNaughton says. The kitchen was also gutted and reconfigured for maximum functionality, with the husband carefully assessing the placement of appliances, including in the new handy butler’s pantry. “The butler’s pantry now has a beverage fridge, with the kids’ juice boxes, so even the littlest one can get to them,” says the wife.

Marker then brought in transitional furnishings to honor the home’s traditional bones while giving the space a renewed vibe. “It was really about adding modern touches with updated fabrics like a fun geometric pattern or a really clean leg on a piece of furniture,” she explains. The long, skinny living room presented a design challenge, as well, so the designer added a Lillian August daybed that gave the room more flexibility. “It’s floating in middle of the room to use as a sofa or chaise,” she says. “The legs are more traditional and we put a modern fabric on it.” Meanwhile, the office also needed some sprucing up, so the team painted the existing cabinetry using an eco-friendly paint.

Whites and grays found throughout the space offer a fresh vibe, while the homeowners’ favored blues and greens were added through various furnishings and accents to provide splashes of color. Marker also incorporated patterns—herringbone, ikat and chevron—to delight the eye. “Patterns give a pop of interest, so we brought them into every room, whether it was with pillows, artwork or a rug,” she says. “One of my favorite elements is the dining room wallpaper with its embroidered fabric ribbons; it gives the dining room some uniqueness. The wallpaper is a light color, so even though it has a black pattern, it really opens up the space.”

Kid-friendly fabrics were also a priority. “We’re not the type of people who only let the kids eat in the kitchen,” the wife says. “They’re climbing over couches and jumping from here to there, so the family room really had to be livable. Kate was very helpful in finding fabrics that could handle three young kids.” For the furnishings, the designer incorporated durable fabrics, protected with Scotchgard; she even considered how children run around a room when choosing where to place them. Marker and the wife also came up with solutions to keep clutter at bay. In the family’s previous townhouse, coats and scarves were tossed near the front door, so they especially appreciated their new mudroom complete with five cubbies, one for each member of the family. “Now the kids have a place to put their stuff,” the wife says.

The architecturally distinctive home now functions for modern-day living, with a fresh style that provides the perfect backdrop for everything the family loves to do. “It’s a great house to entertain in,” the wife says. “We have barbecues in the summer, and in the fall, we’ve been doing more family-oriented activities, like Sunday afternoon chili parties. We’ve been really happy here.” Adds Marker: “I love how comfortable this house turned out. Every room feels very usable and inviting.”

—Kimberly Olson