Rustic and Modern Design Coexist in Evanston

Interior designer Laura Soskin helps an Evanston homeowner strike the right balance between modern and rustic.

“I’ve always liked ethic, old and beat-up pieces that have been handled and loved for a very long time,” explains the homeowner of a 6000-square-foot home with seven bedrooms in Evanston. To help her to decorate her new home, the owner called on Laura Soskin, of Laura Soskin Design in Wilmette. “Laura Soskin is like my design soul mate,” the homeowner says. “She’s very bold, and she loves very big things. We have the same design aesthetic, and she just knows how to bring a room, a home, to life.”

The owner and Soskin first met years earlier when a mutual acquaintance commented about their shared appreciation for patina and texture. Feeling stymied about whether or not to buy an expensive Chinese medicine cabinet for a prior home, the homeowner decided to give Soskin a call. “I was so scared to commit to this piece that might really be the wrong thing,” the owner says. After a brief chat, Soskin visited the home and wound up staying for five hours. “Laura rearranged all the stuff that we had, and it looked unbelievable,” the homeowner says, noting that Soskin told her to nix the medicine cabinet, which did not fit the scale of the room.

When the homeowner moved into her current home in 2011, she called on Soskin yet again. “She had great pieces from her old house, and to build on those was exciting,” Soskin says. Atop one such piece, an antique apothecary cabinet in the living room, Soskin placed a twisted, knotty euonymus root that she had owned for nearly three decades. Along the stairway to the second floor, she hung three large woven basket tops. “They fit the space beautifully,” Soskin says. “What an entrée to the second floor!”

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According to the homeowner, the rustic pieces and texture “speak louder” when placed alongside more contemporary furnishings with clean lines, such as the sleek mid-century sectional that Soskin selected for the family room. A simple indoor-outdoor rug provides a soothing yet practical backdrop. “I love that, because we’re a pretty messy family, and I’m a klutz who will spill red wine and break glasses,” the owner says. “I want our house to feel like it’s very lived in, welcoming and comfortable.”

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In the family room, Soskins paired a mid-century sofa that she purchased at Scout in Andersonville, with a pair of vintage leather airport chairs and a coffee table of her own design. The painting above the sofa is by Michael Finnegan.

According to the homeowner, Soskin is not your typical designer. “She assesses a room in seconds, and she carries out her vision unbelievably quickly.” It doesn’t hurt, the homeowner says, that Soskin has an entire garage full of pieces nearby that she often sells directly to her clients. (The designer also has a booth at Trilogy Antiques & Design in Three Oaks, Mich.). “She can bring something into the house, put it into place and the whole room will just pop,” the owner explains. “I like instant gratification.” 

According to Soskin, working with somebody with such a similar aesthetic is a blessing. “It’s like lightning strikes and there’s this really intense relationship, especially when you’ve worked on two houses together,” Soskin says. “It was fun helping her to transform her home into something extraordinary.”

More photos from the home:

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Rather than buying a headboard, Soskin designer her own piece, which she upholstered with a graphic fabric from Dhongia. “Initially (the owner) wanted to keep things simple, but she was willing to mix crazy patterns in the master bedroom,” Soskins says. “The headboard fabric is modern, strong and dramatic.” Soskin had the throw pillow made from one of her old cashmere sweaters. 

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Antique hat molds become art when hung above the bed in one of the home’s seven bedrooms. 

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In the dining room, Soskin paired a piece of recent black and white piece by Michael McGuire with a colorful ’80s-era painting by Juan Luis Quintana. “They could not be more different, but they play off each other so well,” Soskin says.

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Photos by Megan Chaffin