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After years on the North Shore, a design-minded power couple relocate to a modern converted warehouse along The 606.

Diane and Mark Falanga fell hard for the space’s industrial elements, which include concrete floors, metal railings and a gorgeous exposed bow truss ceiling. Diane, a designer and founder of Space Defined Interior Design, delineated the large open space by imagining glass walls and creating various seating areas that are perfect for entertaining.

 

Diane converted a corner of the main space into a cozy conversation area with swivel chairs and a coffee table from RH, and hide rugs from Surya. The photo is “Legs” by Jeremy & Claire Weiss.

 

The sunken conversation pit in the main living room was one area that Diane felt was straightforward. A digital print from an original oil painting by Chicago photographer Herbert Migdoll of Joffrey Ballet dancer Fabrice Calmels, “Swimmer 300,” hangs above the
granite fireplace.

 

With its Italian kitchen cabinetry and thick stone countertops, the stunning kitchen just needed a little styling and modern stools from Orange Skin. 

 

A set of minimalist Eames chairs and a dining table from Domicile maintain the modern ethos in the breakfast room just off the kitchen. “Camera” by Jeremy & Claire Weiss hangs above a custom built-in wine wall by Moss.

 

Two works by Australian artist Tanja Milbourne, “Uncertainty #089” and “Uncertainty #985,” add drama to a pass-through from the master bedroom to bathroom.

Architect Jack Berger built the outdoor atrium around a giant tree, and the couple retreat to the space often. The outdoor furniture is from Crate & Barrel, RH and Room & Board.

 

Bohemia rules in daughter Bianca’s bedroom, which overlooks The 606, where a fur rug with a thick pile adds to a chorus of textures in the serene white space. 

Change is a fact of life in a vibrant metropolis like Chicago. It was just a few decades ago that cargo trains rumbled along the Bloomingdale Line—a section of tracks in Bucktown. Today, the elevated tracks have been transformed into The 606—a celebrated bike path—and many of the original warehouses that ran alongside are long gone. Many of those that remain are being converted into modern single-family dwellings by industrious types, like Mark and Diane Falanga.

The power couple (he’s the CEO of VentureMark, a real estate investment firm, and she owns Space Defined Interior Design) toured a church, a police station and an old fire station before selecting an 8,000-square-foot home in a former warehouse with concrete floors, wooden bow truss arches, skylights and an interior atrium.

“We were looking for an interesting urban conversion,” Diane explains. “We didn’t want suburbs in the city.”

Not that she’s dissing the burbs; the couple raised their two children in a historic Wilmette house (the first ever built in the North Shore community, in 1873), which sported moldings galore, handpainted wallcoverings and a cavernous ballroom lit by crystal chandeliers. But with the kids out on their own, they were ready for something very different. “This was a radical departure,” says Diane. “The bones dictated the design.”

Although the warehouse had already been beautifully converted into commercial office space by architect Jack Berger of Berger Architects, with a sleek white Scavolini kitchen and stone counters, it still felt too austere. “It was gorgeous, but I had to wrap my head around how to make it a home,” says the designer.

To open up the view of the atrium from the living areas, she replaced a long wall that bifurcated the space with a bank of low white lacquered cabinetry. A pair of striking black pendants illuminate the stone countertop, highlighting hints of taupe and brown. New lighting likewise calls attention to the warm tones in the bow truss ceiling. “It has an amber glow that warms up the space tremendously and gives it a less austere, more residential feeling,” she explains.

Only one space seemed totally straightforward—a sunken conversation pit with a granite fireplace, which she furnished with a large-scale sectional sofa from Interior Define that takes up the bulk of the perimeter. Up to 30 people have crowded around the sofa during the couple’s many soirees and designer dinner parties (Diane is the president of the board of directors for Designs For Dignity).

Figuring out how to furnish the rest of the wide-open space, however, was more vexing. But by picturing “glass walls” in her mind’s eye, she was able to make sense of it, creating distinct areas for living, dining and just hanging out. Rugs and artwork help to delineate the “rooms,” which are furnished with sculptural modern furnishings.

A vibrant photograph by Jeremy & Claire Weiss, for example, hangs on the wall next to a quartet of modern swivel chairs on a hide rug next to the couple’s offices, which are encased behind actual glass. And a dramatic triptych art piece by Herbert Migdoll defines the main living space, which is furnished with modern pieces covered in neutral fabrics. “Mark and I have given each other art pieces over the years,” she explains. “The wide walls are just like candy for me.”

The atrium, on the other hand, has only glass walls, but they love it nonetheless. During the summer, the couple spend as much time as they can in the lush private outdoor space, often lounging on the outdoor sectional in front of the concrete fire pit.

When it’s raining, cold or snowing, Diane makes a beeline up to the open second-floor loft. Flooded with natural daylight from the arcade-style skylights directly overhead, “you feel like you’re in a snow globe,” she says. “We use every space, depending on the lighting.”

After so many years out in the burbs, city life looks good on the couple. They are enjoying the neighborhood’s buzzy restaurant scene and many cultural and recreational amenities—especially The 606 path, which runs right outside their front door. “It’s our sidewalk to the world,” Diane explains. “This feels like true urban living at its most exciting and fun level, and we’re loving everything about the experience.” 

DESIGN DETAILS
TYPE
Bow Truss Warehouse

LOCATION
Logan Square

ARCHITECTURE
Jack Berger, Berger Architects
312.829.9010

INTERIOR DESIGN
Diane Falanga, Space Defined Interior Design

RESOURCES
Artemide
Light fixture in living area

Chalet
Planter in family room

Surya
Area rug in family room, hides in living area

Interior Define
Sectional and ottoman in family room

Lightology
Koncept Equo floor lamp in family room

Scavolini
All cabinetry and door hardware

RH
Dining table, long sofa, side chairs, coffee tables and swivel chairs in living areas

Room & Board
Dining chairs, coffee table, bookshelf and side tables in living area

Moss
Custom table in dining room and custom wine wall in kitchen

Orange Skin
Stools at kitchen counter

Domicile Furniture
Table and chairs in kitchen

Uttermost
Floor lamps in living area