The Lake House

When a Chicago-area family completed construction on their five-bedroom lake home, they hired Stephanie Wirth and Georgeann Rivas, of Leo Designs in Chicago, to help them create an open, airy retreat with fun pops of color.

In this conversation with Make It Better, Stephanie Wirth explains how they tackled the project.

What did the homeowners want to accomplish?
The clients wanted a place where they could entertain family and friends. Their primary residence is much more muted, but (the wife) also loves colors like pink, chartreuse and powder blue, which we helped her incorporate into their vacation retreat in a classic way.

Coordinating color can be difficult. How did you find so many complementary pieces?
Many of the decisions derived from the fabric. For example, we painted vintage game table chairs a chartreuse shade of green to coordinate with the sofa fabric and we shopped at what seemed like a hundred different places to find books with binding that matches the striped fabric on the window benches in the second floor landing.

It must have taken decades to find so many books with matching bindings?
That’s not necessarily the most profitable part of our job, but we feel passionate about creating the most beautiful finished space, and layering is one of the best ways to achieve that. It takes some time, but it makes everything come together.

Why did you opt for a more muted palette in the family room?
This is the only room in the home that’s off limits to the children, so our goal was to create a serene space for the adults to read and entertain. We were inspired by the nearby sandy beach to maintain a neutral palette. To create interest, we covered the ottoman with a high contrast fabric.

What was the biggest challenge of the project and why?
Vacation homes need to be practical and withstand a lot of sand, sticky fingers and muddy paw prints so we had to make sure that we incorporated practical furnishings and durable fabrics. We used an outdoor fabric called Sunbrella on an ottoman and even in the bedrooms.

What’s next for the house?

Currently we are on the hunt for the perfect distressed antique farm table for the dining room. We never feel totally finished with a home. We may find a great piece of art or accessory even years after we’ve completed a project.

Thanks Stephanie!

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