Tips and Takeaways from the 2011 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens

Chicago’s top designers transformed Thorndale Manor for the 2011 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens.

Our Home Editor, Tate Gunnerson, visited the mansion and found takeaway lessons you can use in decorating your space.

Parisian Library by Jeannie Balsam, LLC.
Using dark purple walls and sumptuous fabrics such as wool flannel, velvet and mohair, Jeannie Balsam turned a second floor bedroom (pictured above) in the detached coach house into a Parisian-style library that makes an ideal place for her imaginary clients to converse, read and play games in a sumptuous yet less formal setting.
“Imagine a tucked-away Parisian library with the strength of a men’s equestrian club yet the couture details of French fashion houses,” Balsam explains.

The takeaway: “Invest in the classics – upholstery, furniture and rugs,” Balsam says. “Allow your art, accessories and wall color to express and reflect your current interests and stage in life, and will never be disappointed or grow bored.”

Young woman’s bedroom by ML Design Studio
Top Design Season One champion Matt Lorenz, of ML Design Studio, used violet paint and luxurious accents such as crocodile leather, polished Nickel and limestone in the design of a space for one very lucky imaginary girl. “My inspiration was a luxury handbag,” Lorenz explains.

The takeaway: Don’t be afraid to experiment with color. “The violet walls accented with indigo blue makes for an unusual palette that has a surprising calming effect,” Lorenz says. “The room’s color palette is captivating.”

Coach House Foyer by Shelley Johnstone Design
For the design of the coach house’s grand foyer, Shelley Johnstone of Shelly Johnstone Design was inspired by the large bold pattern of Farrow and Ball’s Lotus-patterned wallpaper, which she paired with a mod 1960s Venini chandelier and a Lucite console table juxtaposed with Louis XVI French chairs and late nineteenth century blue and white Chinese export vases.

The takeaway: Mixing and matching eras is not only acceptable but also downright exciting. The key, according to Shelley, is balance. “I tried to break up the boldness of the paper by adding molding pieces with horizontal mirrors inset on either side of the front door and on the east wall under the staircase. These mirrors and the lacquered surface finishes helped to create more light in the space.”

Coach House Living Room by Susan Schmidt Interior Design, Inc.
In the nearby coach house living room, Susan Schmidt, of Susan Schmidt Interior Design LLC, looked to the space itself for inspiration. “The room has three sets of French doors, a pretty marble fireplace, great light and a wonderful garden to look out at,” she says.

The takeaway: According to Schmidt, freshening the look of a home doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and she hopes people realize that comfortable seating, a neutral color palette and great art (preferably from local artists) can work wonders. “Edit, edit, edit,” she says. “Choose what you love.”

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