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By Kerrie Kennedy | Photo: by Mike Schwartz | October 1, 2018
Designer Elizabeth Krueger creates a cool but comfy vibe in Ukrainian Village.
When Patricia Kocour and her husband, Mike Week, decided to head back to the city after 20 years in Hinsdale, they had two very specific goals. They wanted an urban environment that was cool enough to keep the kids coming around—their son lives nearby and their daughter is living with them while attending graduate school—and large enough to entertain their extended family. In other words, an empty nest that was never empty.
They found the cool factor in a historic brick two-flat located in Ukrainian Village, a neighborhood the couple instantly loved. “There are still people from the Ukraine living here, as well as a lot of young people who give it a new vibe,” Kocour says. “And any kind of cuisine you could want is within walking distance. We love having this energy all around us—it’s kind of a melding of everything we could want.”
To get the space they needed, the couple converted the two-flat into a single-family home, dug out the basement to create higher ceilings and essentially took everything out but the bricks. “When friends come to see us now, they walk up to this historic building and when they come inside and see that everything is completely modern, they’re totally surprised,” Kocour says.
It’s quite a departure from the couple’s former house in Hinsdale, which was built in 1890 and was very traditional. But this time, Kocour wanted something different. “I really wanted something fresh and inspiring and bordering on edgy,” she says. “Our kids are just at the age where they’re as excited to be here as much as we are,” she says. “Our coolness has definitely been upgraded.”
A busy trial attorney whose days are long and often contentious, Kocour also wanted to come home to an environment that was peaceful and soothing. So she turned to designer Elizabeth Krueger, who she knew through her work with designer Tracy Hickman. “I went on Elizabeth’s website, and everything about it just grabbed me. I knew she would be the perfect fit.”
“I thought it was a really unique space and opportunity,” Krueger recalls. “The direction came from the urban environment, but also from this family’s wish to entertain. Comfortable, plentiful seating was a priority.” We’ve all heard about buyers who plan to entertain, but Kocour actually meant it. Among her goals was to be able to seat her entire extended family of 16 in the living room after Thanksgiving dinner. “Not on the arm of the couch or yanking in a chair from the other room,” Kocour says. “Real seating.”
Krueger was able to pull it off in the form of two enormous sofas, two Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams armchairs, and a clever miter-cut marble fireplace hearth and a rolled-steel metal wall featuring floating shelves that runs the entire length of the living room. “It was a little on the edgy side for me,” Kocour says of the room’s focal point. “But Elizabeth pushed me to do it, and now I really love it.”
Something else she loves is the handsome pewter-painted office intended for her husband, who works from home. Krueger brought in a custom leather-bound desk made in Mexico but the rest of the room is deeply personal and features an Asian chest that once belonged to her husband’s grandfather and a gallery wall displaying charcoal drawings done by his mother. “Elizabeth totally made it work and created a room that I really love looking at,” Kocour says.
Rather than color, Krueger infused the home with layers of neutrals and a multitude of textures. Family heirlooms throughout give the home a collected feel while softening its industrial bent. In the dining room, a round table with metal base, custom designed by Krueger, and a metal light fixture from Restoration Hardware are paired with curved upholstered chairs, furthering the cool but comfy vibe.
Recently, the couple gave the home a test run, hosting Kocour’s entire extended family of nearly 20. “Very naturally, everyone started around the kitchen island,” she says. “And then after dinner in the dining room, everyone migrated to the living room, and people’s feet were up on the ottomans, and it was just a wonderful way to have a group conversation with my family. I could never do this successfully in my old house. It worked seamlessly here, and it was just priceless to me.”
Michael Abraham Architecture
Elizabeth Krueger, Elizabeth Krueger Design
Dave Knecht Homes
Accessories in bedrooms
Pendants in kitchen
ELI WYN UPHOLSTERY
Upholstery of all custom furniture
MIMSIE O’HARA FABRIC DESIGNs
Custom window coverings
MITCHELL GOLD + BOB WILLIAMS
Coffee table, bedroom furniture and chairs in office
OSCAR ISBERIAN RUGS
Lighting in master bedroom
ROOM & BOARD
THE TILE GALLERY
Tile in bathrooms
TRIM TECH DESIGNS
Custom kitchen cabinetry