Interview: Wilmette Interior Design Laura Soskin on Her Garage

People often ask Wilmette-based interior designer, Laura Soskin, where she finds all the interesting accessories she displays in the home she and her husband, portrait and abstract painter, Dave Soskin, share with their teenaged son and daughter.

But those people haven’t yet seen Soskin’s garage, which is chock-full of enough merchandise to open her own boutique.

“I carved out a sliver of space for my car,” explained Soskin without a hint of exaggeration as she gave me the grand tour.

Soskin not only scouts for amazing pieces to deck out specific clients homes, she also builds collections over the course of months and years. An old wooden crate gradually gets filled with vintage matte ceramic milk jugs, worth little on their own but priceless when brought together (there’s a lesson there, methinks).

Unfortunately, Soskin’s garage is open only to her friends and clients, but she agreed to give Make It Better readers a sneak peek.

Let’s address the elephant in the room; why is your garage so full?

I collect individual pieces, group them together with other unusual objects until I have an entire collection that took years to assemble.

What do you do with those collections?

I buy what I love and store it in anticipation of eventually selling it.
You clearly love accessories. What advice would you give to people who are trying to give their room a little jolt without re-doing every piece of furniture?

If they’re not doing the whole makeover, go with extraordinary art and accessories. Consider spending more than you think you should for something exceptional, but make sure it’s unusual and large in scale.

What motivates you to collect all these interesting things and then just leave them in the garage?

It’s my passion. I’ve always loved objets d’art. There are Mart shoppers and then there are the rest of us. I really like to find one-of-a-kind objects that tell a story for my clients. You don’t find that true patina that comes with age at the Merchandise Mart.

You have a very unusual mix of objects, both in your personal home and in the garage. Why does this look appeal to you?

I find it much more interesting to marry pieces that didn’t originally belong together . . . groupings of unexpected objects with a variety of textures and colors. I often mix Asian pieces with American pieces with African pieces and I find that more eclectic.

I love all the found objects. I’d keep everything if I could. But when I find the perfect home for something, I can let it go and feel good about it.

So it’s almost like an adoption? You place the accessory into the right home?

I know it sounds crazy, but yes, that’s exactly what it’s like (laughs).
What does your husband think?

Dave is used to my stuff after 24 years of collecting. We used to rent three different garages from our neighbors at our old house, so he’s relieved that it’s all consolidated . . . less schlepping from one place to another.

Thanks, Laura. Sign me up!

For more information about Laura Soskin, visit her Web site:

A version of this interview first appeared on my interiors blog Strange Closets. Visit Strange Closets for weekly home tours, reviews of Chicagoland’s coolest boutiques and interviews with designers and artists.

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