Designer Inspirations: 2013 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens

The designer showhouse. It’s more than an occasion to showcase a designer’s talents.

It’s a chance for a designer to explore a creative concept and introduce dramatic gestures and fantastic elements. In some cases, it’s the opportunity to take a particularly unique or challenging space and make it something special.

This year’s Infant Welfare Society of Chicago’s Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, hosted in an historic lakeside Italian villa designed by David Adler, presented its fair share of design opportunities and challenges.

Making an entrance

Designer Inspirations- 2013 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens-Shot1_18-Werner Straube
Werner Straube Photography

Creating the first impression in a David Adler estate is no small task. Up to the challenge, Lichten Craig paired stunning antiques with contemporary accents for a modern take on a traditional room. A black and white Atelier Fornasetti paper, with a pewter-leafed vaulted ceiling, become neutral backdrops to a striking Jules Leleu emerald lacquered sideboard flanked by ebonized Biedermeier chairs. The original dark terrazzo floor reflects the sparkle of a precious rock crystal star chandelier, carved from a single block of Brazilian quartz.

Transforming odd into intimate space

Photography by Nick Johnson

The goal was two-fold: create an inviting room for family time from an unusually long and narrow space. Using warm tones and rich textiles accented with found “family” treasures, Wiley Designs pulled together two distinct but connected spaces, intimate in scale, that invite reading, talking and, most importantly, being “unplugged.”

Trailblazing passageway style

Photos by Paul Rufus

Paul Rufus masters the thoroughfare, with a salon-style installation of family photos, graphic prints, plein air pastels by Susan Henshaw and formal landscapes, set against decoratively painted soft stripes, faux moldings and trim. Handpainted with seven Farrow & Ball whites, unique stripes of varying sequence and width unite a disparate series of once narrow, cavernous hallways and stairs to create a delightful gallery worthy of lingering.

Reworking the home office

A traditional space with serious purpose doesn’t have to be dull. Lawrence Boeder enlivens the home office with fresh green grasscloth grounded by a graphic black and white carpet. Traditional furniture in various wood finishes is paired with vibrant, modern art that challenges predictability.

Redefining the mudroom

Photo from Houzz
Photo from Houzz

Photo by Melissa Edelman

The mudroom got an upgrade. Moving past beadboard and cubbies, Melissa Edelman of Antiquaire introduces sophistication and drama, with off-black walls the backdrop to gilded antique woods, ornate gold leaf, and the weathered patina of iron and bronze. Durable indoor/outdoor textiles in rich patterns and textures add style while standing up to the ins and outs of a busy family. An antique French Industrial mail rack offers shelves enough for shoes, hats, keys and more, topped by three gilded starburst mirrors. Spare change becomes a creative floor treatment, as hundreds of pennies are grouted as tiles for a custom copper floor.

The 15th Biennial Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens will be open to the public through May 19. Visit their website for more information on times and tickets.