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French Twist

Cerused oak paneling, steel and glass walls, and iconic midcentury furnishings bring a sense of European elegance to a brand-new condo in Lincoln Park.

Ochre’s Arctic Pear chandelier from David Sutherland softly illuminates the spacious, formal living room that offers a spectacular view of the lake. A pair of sofas from Holly Hunt and a custom chaise built by Estudio Furnishings create an intimate conversation area within the open space.

“Not many people have a closet with this kind of stunning view,” explains Shelly Handman of the well-appointed white rift oak-paneled dressing room overlooking the lake that he designed for his clients. Complete with its own balcony and a center marble island, the jewel box of a space is one of many reasons that the owners—a couple with three children—are happy with their decision to trade their single-family home for the high-rise unit. “We looked at two or three units and were so taken by the views,” the wife and mother of three explains. “The lobby is gorgeous, and there are so many amenities. It’s like living in a nice hotel.”

In addition to deluxe features such as a clubhouse, an indoor swimming pool and a screening room, the building at 2550 N. Lakeview Ave. also boasts well-manicured gardens right in the heart of the city. “The lobby has 20-foot picture windows that look out at a beautiful private park,” Handman says. “You feel like you just walked into a luxury co-op in Paris.”

That sensibility influenced the aesthetic that Handman created for his clients when they hired him to combine a pair of unfinished units with 6,500 square feet of total space, four en suite bedrooms and three spacious balconies. “There were some crucial flaws in the space planning, so that was the first issue we had to dig our teeth into,” Handman explains. “It was a considerable effort because they didn’t want to start from scratch, but they were willing to do certain things to enhance the space.”

Working with interior architect Yevgeniy Veller and project manager Shu-Yi Tsou, Handman created a more gracious entry foyer that leads to an open seating area illuminated by a large nautilus-shaped lamp on a pedestal that he picked up at a flea market in Paris. A series of tall steel and glass French doors with simple, linear lines connect the space with the adjacent great room, library, family and dining rooms. “We used that fenestration in many areas,” Handman explains. “The lobby of the building has a very French deco arts feel to it, and I wanted to reiterate that in their unit.”

Custom oak cabinetry, designed by Handman and built by Decams Cabinets, transforms what was once a small bedroom into a glamorous dressing room for the master suite. Copper pulls, and horn pulls from Ochre, are elegant details that aren’t overly feminine, so it suits both the homeowners’ tastes.

Like the aforementioned master closet, for example, which Handman created in an unnecessary guest suite, the library walls have been clad with cerused rift-sawn oak, a technique commonly used by the French midcentury designer Jean-Michel Frank, who also designed the husband’s desk. “I wanted to go a little more contemporary than my last home,” the wife explains. “The deco pieces have clean lines, but you can also mix in antiques with them.”

In the great room, an antique Biedermeier chair plays nicely with a pair of custom Maitalino sofas and a pair of 20s-era lounge chairs by Eileen Gray. Likewise, a custom deco-style television cabinet at the foot of the bed in the master suite co-exists peacefully with an ornate crystal chandelier and a Louis XV desk that the owners brought from their former home. “They have some really wonderful antiques,” Handman explains.

To emphasize the view, Handman eschewed bold colors and patterns in favor of a palette of neutrals; muted, mossy greens; and silvery-grayed blues that were inspired by the lake. Subtle wallcoverings add texture and interest. “Their art collection is beautiful, and the views are gorgeous, so the palette is very simple,” Handman explains, noting that the thick vertical stripes in the entry foyer, which pay homage to Henri Bendel, are an exception to the rule.

The elegant space checks all the right boxes for the owners, who appreciate how their new home looks and also how it functions. “Our master suite is on one side of the unit, and the kids’ rooms are all the way on the other side,” she explains. “We all hang out together at the public spaces in the center.”

When the weather permits, the family especially enjoys dining on their outdoor balcony, for which Handman designed a half-circle table facing the water so that each person would have an unobstructed view. “Shelly has such great ideas,” the wife says. “I just loved his vision right from the start.”



Lincoln Park

Handman Associates

Star Stone Construction

Baker Furniture
Chairs in sitting room and bowl in dining room

Bianco Glass Products
Custom metal and glass doors and wall panel in dining room

Crawford Supply
Barbara Barry vanity, Kohler tub and Newport Brass fittings

David Sutherland
Ochre chandeliers in living room, family room and dining room, and horn pulls

Estudio Furnishings
Custom fabrication of sofas, chaise, side tables, ottoman and kitchen banquette all designed by Handman Associates

The Golden Triangle
Custom pedestal for shell lamp

Holly Hunt
Living room sofas, in Manuel Canovas fabric

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Felix chair in sitting room

Oscar Isberian Rugs
Custom sisal in living room and hair on hide in family room

Restoration Hardware
Desk lamp in library

Susan Swanson Interior Design Studio
Custom drapery and Roman shades