Our Mod-Eclectic is your Mod-Eclectic. (Doesn’t roll off the tongue like the “mi casa/su casa” version. But the sentiment’s there.)
No stuffy butler adjusting the sun umbrellas or refreshing your iced bevvie, but rather a “stay as long as you like” vibe and poolside loungers aplenty.
Our first post on this Chicago Golf Club stunner talked mostly about higher-level considerations like scale and vibe. Here, we’ll get more nuts-and-boltsy with details on the staircase, kitchen, primary suite, retro-mod basement and killer indoor/outdoor gathering spaces. But we’ll speak to the overall vibe again too, because we just can’t not – since this house gives “going to Grandpa and Grandma’s” a whooooole new meaning. No crocheted doilies or porcelain figurine collections here. Nope. These are art-collecting, “cool glasses” grandparents, unafraid to venture into slightly unconventional, and in some cases, fully unexpected design territory.
This home is so many things, it’s hard to narrow it down to a simple descriptor. But if we had to give it a two-worder, we’d go with Modern Eclectic. (Y’know, Modern’s less uptight, friendlier cousin.) It’s airy and inviting, with just enough drama to warrant a double-take (or twelve). The kind of place where inflatable flamingos peacefully co-exist with more serious modern art pieces, with neither judging the other. NOTE: There’s something sooo-sooo good about seeing kids peering at a painting or sculpture through swim goggles on their way upstairs in search of dry clothes. (You can’t not wonder what they’re thinking.)
The feel is like goin’-out casual, which is spiffier than typical stay-at-home casual – stylish in a striking, art-laden, laid-back kind of way. By this couple’s definition – one we like a lot – entertaining is really just gathering with people you enjoy hanging with (and posssssibly sometimes scolding for overly enthusiastic cannonballing). None of the traditional formalities. At the sound of the doorbell ding, they wanted to just holler, “Hey, we’re by the pool. Grab drinks and towels on your way out.” So we designed for a crowd that’s partial to impromptu weekend-long sleepovers and casual, help-yourself eats.
We went classic white on the kitchen, with a double island to accommodate multiple DIY sandwich assemblers or cocktail makers at once, a custom metal hood over the range, quartzite counters, burnished gold hardware and semi-fancy gold metal detail in the white marble backsplash tile. The butler pantry follows the trending oversized setup, fully kitted out with sink and second dishwasher, beverage fridge and ice maker – then we added a window in the back wall to open up the sightlines all the way through the house.
The custom light over the dining table was a simple elongated black box running most of the length of the also-custom table, which was inspired by a high-roller piece we’d seen and admired a safe distance from the price tag to avoid cardiac arrest in case no one had the defib paddles handy. We worked with our skilled friends at Rest & Repine to create our own version of dining table perfection, and then with Tower lighting to translate the rough-sketch image in our brains into an actual functioning fixture. Occasionally, we can scour the internet ad infinitum, consult all our secret sources and still come up empty, wishing for that piece that we’re sure MUST exist, but obviously doesn’t. So we wave the white flag on the exhaustive search, and instead, team up with talented makers to create it ourselves.
The hearth room was originally designed with a tall center fireplace and two large flanking windows overlooking the pool, but, hi. Curveball. The contractor had an extra window and was “unwavering” shall we say in his figure-outing of how to un-obstruct the killer view. In the spirit of collaboration, we typically roll with changes, but in this case, we felt we had a good design and pushed back. To no avail. On our next visit, the window was in. Soooo, back to the drawing board (GC: 1 , AS&Co: 0).
We ended up designing a counter height cabinet under the windows, running the full width of the room, with a direct vent fireplace built into the center of it. Per the owner’s request, we also devised a secret-TV-hideaway on the right side, so the screen can be stashed away until the magic wand of a remote raises it for viewing. For anyone who “needs a moment,” there’s a leather swivel chair perfect for hiding out with a beverage while still being able to see (but not hear) the kids going bonkers out in the pool. (Bonkers is cool. But quiet’s nice too.)
Oh, and at the risk of making our hearth room design solve sound overly heroic, we did miss one critical piece of info up front. The homeowner wanted to be able to swivel the TV sideways, so it needed more space behind it than originally planned. Ah, well. Nothing a little re-install couldn’t fix. It’s in these moments we are ever so grateful for an exceptionally accommodating GC, willing to work with us to keep our shared clients happy.
The staircase from the main living space up to the grandkid-commandeered guest rooms is a sleek, mitered white oak affair. It offers a nice contrast to the dark wood floors, with the lighter tone drawing the eye and visually linking it with the other white oak trim elements. PS: we did add a neutral runner to provide some sound absorption and slip resistance. (No offense, small people. Everyone loves the sound of grandkids’ feet – just wanted a less thunderous version and no cracked skulls.)
The first floor primary suite is a haven of textured-neutral serene-ness, with wood veneer wall covering and a custom rug with a subtle color gradient and varied topography that makes bare feet particularly happy (and slippers seem kinda pointless). There’s a seating area next to the windows overlooking the backyard, and we included a set of sweet doors at all the cased openings in the primary suite, so they could be open and essentially hidden in the trimwork (a homeowner request we fully embraced).
If you think of the design as theme and variation – the mudroom and basement were definitely the variation. For the mudroom we ventured into pattern-land with a geometric floor tile in slightly bolder neutrals, complete with dog shower and washer/dryer. We hung a giant white oak barn door which we were originally going to paint dark charcoal like the window interiors. But once is was up, we unanimously agreed that clear coat was the way to go, visually connecting the staircase and mitered white oak trim throughout.
Downstairs, the owners wanted to go with a more retro theme, complete with throwback Big Chill fridge. We chose teal. ‘Cuz if you’re gonna do a Big Chill fridge, you really have to go all the way there and own that teal like the statement it is. We did custom black lacquer frameless cabinets to house the TV and tons of toys. And we installed a big glass wall with metal dividers for the workout room to give it an open, expansive feel. While most homeowners request a – well – more man cave-y finished basement, in this case it was the wife who called dibs on the space. (And we quote) “The basement is mine.” Ok, first time for everything. We dig it. Done. Her Ladyship of the Lower Level now has a sweet, not-at-all-man-cave-y place to hang out, stream Netflix, and play with the grandkids.
While the majority of the interior was a study in Less is More, outside, they went with a far less restrained More is Better approach, going completely gangbusters on landscaping and sprawling outdoor living spaces – which you can see here in all their lovely late-May glory. That turned out to be a freakishly fortuitous call since it coincided with the Covid-driven shutdown of even patio dining. At the last few walk-throughs, we may have not-so-subtly invited ourselves over, with convo openers like, “Gee, suuuuuure would be nice to hang out here with a glass of wine sometime.” We have no shame.
If any of this has you mentally blue-printing your own version of something similar, get in touch. We can help pick up wherever your inspiration leaves off. Let’s make it happen.