A Look Inside: Merchandise Mart Dream Home

Spring is here, and color is blooming all over the city, perhaps most spectacularly in the 11th annual Merchandise Mart Dream Home, where Chicago’s hottest interior designers have let their imaginations soar. The result is well worth a visit. .

Make an Entrance or Foyer

For the spacious foyer, Marshall Erb, of Marshall Erb Design, combined art deco furniture with abstract expressionist artwork and a Cubist sculpture inspired by the Chicago Picasso. An oversized ‘70s-era torch-cut brass chandelier illuminates a custom table that Erb designed for the space.

Takeaway: “Because it’s a room that you move through, a foyer needs to be memorable,” Erb says, noting that a collective grouping of sculpture, art, lighting and furniture is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Green Living or Living Room

Eva Quateman, of Eva Quateman Interiors, drew inspiration from mid-century designers, Dorothy Draper and James Mont, for her design of the living room. The palette she selected includes layers of verdant hues and unusual patterns such as Chinese toile. “You don’t see this color palette ever,” she says. “It’s fresh and whimsical.”

Takeaway:Be bold when designing a space. “I do this for a living, and I was a little afraid myself,” Quateman says. “It was either going to look like the most fabulous thing ever or it’s going to look like a giant zucchini, but I kept doubling down on it, and at the end of the day, I think it paid off.”

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Dining Room

For the design of the dining room, Anne Coyne imagined Baroness Karen von Blixen, the author of the 1937 memoir “Out of Africa,” returning to her home in Denmark from Africa. “I realized she would also have had a lot of exotic furnishings from her time [there],” Coyne says.“The contrast between the feminine and breezy bones of the room layered with the darker objects is really exciting.”

Takeaway: Coyle says most people rarely use their dining rooms, so she suggests turning it into a multi-functional room with a sturdy table that can double as a desk. “Why confine yourself to a small home office when you can spend your day in one of the prettiest rooms in the house?” she asks, adding that “every dining room needs a great light fixture.”

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A Study in Gray or Study

With no clients to consider, Tom Segal and David Kaufman designed the room as if it were a personal space in their own home. Using a graphic rug from Tufenkian Carpets as a starting point, the designers brought in an array of contrasting and complementary textures that lend interest to the moody monochromatic color palette.

Takeaway: To add warmth to the gray palette, the designers incorporated brass and bronze metals and covered the walls with grass cloth. “A modern room with hard edges can be softened by these kind of organic elements,” Segal says.

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Masterful Bedroom or Master Bedroom

“I wanted to create a space that felt functional yet glamorous at the same time and that would appeal to a Midwest sensibility but have the flair of a downtown lifestyle,” says Frank Fontana, of his design for the master bedroom. The bestselling author and Emmy-winning television star combined metallic and reflective surfaces with natural elements such as a wall treatment that resembles reclaimed wood.

Takeaway: “The key to a great design is cohesiveness and overlapping of colors and textures,” Fontana says.

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The 2015 Dream Home will be open in suite 137 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Dec. 6.


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