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The living room is anchored by a contemporary carpet by J. D. Staron with cocktail tables from Modern History


Color Me Bright

By Charlotte Safavi

Photography by Mike Kaskel


Preppy color and fresh furnishings update and brighten a 1930s Winnetka home.

What’s color got to do with it? North Shore-based interior designers Suzanne Glavin and Melinda Cahill of North Shore Nest would say plenty—especially when talking about their clients’ Winnetka house. “We loved that it was a historic Tudor, but it was very dark,” Cahill says. “The homeowners wanted us to lighten it up and make it a functional family home for 2018 but preserve everything that was historical.”

The homeowners—a stay-at-home mom and her husband, who works in finance—share the home with their three girls, ages 7 to 12. They brought North Shore Nest on to help them update, refresh and furnish the house, which had last been renovated in the ’90s. “The palette was dated pastels, like baby-blues and yellows, and the moldings were painted cream. All the woodwork was original and very dark,” Glavin recalls. A painter specializing in historic homes repaired all the moldings and painted them crisp white. He then painted the wood trim and paneling white throughout, including the foyer. “We had to persuade the homeowners to paint the foyer,” Glavin says. “They didn’t realize how much it would brighten the entry. The paneling details actually pop because they are white and reflective.”

Next up was the home’s rectangular living room, with its formal fireplace. Glavin and Cahill found the room’s palette when they sourced a cheerful ikat rug for the large space. “We went with its lavender, turquoise and kelly greens for a preppy palette. Color can add so much brightness and lightness, and the homeowner was game,” Cahill says. They painted the living room walls lavender and then furnished the room symmetrically, so there are two sofas, a pair of lounge armchairs and double cocktail tables in the space. Though the seating is transitional in form and upholstered in family-friendly fabrics, the double glass-and-brass cocktail tables are pure glamour.

A stunning brass lantern hangs above the butcher block in the white kitchen.

“It was fun to juxtapose those contemporary tables with the traditional fireplace,” Cahill says, “but the homeowners also wanted a superapproachable space.” Glavin adds, “They wanted a throwback living room—one that works for entertaining but also for the family to spend time in, reading, playing games and hanging out.” In the living room’s bay window is a reading nook, with a chaise and armchair, and there is also a custom turquoise velvet banquette where the kids can play cards or do homework.

The designers carried this fresh palette and family-friendly vibe into the dining room. Here, a striking blue nature-inspired wallpaper defines the space. But in an older home, with no eat-in kitchen, the family uses the dining room every night. To that end, the Chippendale-style chairs have indoor-outdoor fabric seats, and the carpet is a broadloom custom-cut carpet. “We made the walls the showstopper, and later the ceiling, with its large crystal-and-glass chandelier,” Glavin says.

The adjacent kitchen kept its footprint, but they painted the once-cream cabinets a crisp white and added new gold hardware. Beautiful marble replaced the green granite countertops and tired tile backsplash. “The family already had the sectional,” Cahill says, about the den nook in the kitchen area. “The TV is there, so we added seating and kept things quiet and neutral.” With finishing touches in place, there is no doubt that this home’s vibrant redesign is reflective of the young family that now lives there.  

The banquette is custom-designed for the game area. Above hangs gilded-flower artwork by Tommy Mitchell.