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Amalie Drury | Photo: Werner Straube | February 26, 2013
A family home in a onetime Gold Coast hotel packs a punch of color, kids and calmness.
Square footage in the Gold Coast doesn’t come cheap by national standards, but the real estate possibilities must seem endless to anyone moving here from New York City. For one such family recently installed in a spacious 4,000-square-foot unit in the former Ambassador West hotel building on State Street, a transfer to Chicago meant an opportunity to let their three young children spread out.
“They wanted the kids to feel comfortable going into any room in the house,” says Kim Scodro, the Chicago-based designer who transformed the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home into a vision of timeless comfort updated with fresh, modern details.
Scodro and an employee, Jessica Reiswerg, set to work on a graceful design scheme with playful elements that would lighten up the mood. The most striking of these is a large living room wall covered in gorgeous custom wallpaper by the London-based company Fromental; the paper was hand-embroidered in China and shows the branches of two delicate, flowering trees stretching from one side of the room to the other. “It was a great opportunity to dress up a wall that size,” says Scodro. “The owner had a very specific vision of the way she wanted the branches to fall, and she was pleased with how it turned out.”
Also in the living room, a big window seat became an even more tempting place to read or play games with the addition of plush padding and rolled pillows. A gold-leaf mirror on a wall opposite the tree paper lets the branches be enjoyed from anywhere one sits.
Elsewhere in the home, a mix of light and dark fabrics and Scodro’s deft use of color-blocking—specifically in bright, rich red—punch up the classic setting. “It’s fun but structured,” says Scodro. “They didn’t want a hodgepodge of colors or furniture.” In the master bedroom, the couple’s beloved iron bed from their previous home was softened with the choice of light blue walls and linens.
Inspired by his time spent in the clubs and bars of London, the man of the house converted the condo’s onetime dining room into his dream billiard room. There, wood-paneled walls, a custom red velvet sofa and special railings for stashing drinks during play complete the clubby vibe. The large antique pool table—which had to be moved into the home before any doors were installed—can be covered to make way for dinner parties.
“This was a family project for sure,” says Scodro. “From the billiard room to the bunk bed we designed for one of the kids, everyone was involved.” As if the proceedings were being filmed for a design show, the designer had a strict 6 o’clock deadline on the evening of the big reveal. “When they walked in the door, everyone ran to their respective areas to ooh and ahh,” she remembers. Now that the family is settled into their Windy City lifestyle, they’re using the home exactly as envisioned. “They live in every inch of it,” Scodro says.