The rising decorator transformed her 1920s penthouse in Chicago into a Parisian apartment.
Alisa Bloom isn’t your typical decorator. She has always been a chameleon. In the early aughts, when most of Chicago’s fashionable set were buying loft warehouse conversions with exposed pipes in the West Loop downtown (as the editor in chief and publisher of Chicago magazine, I’ve observed the city’s real estate trends from an insider’s perch), Bloom did the exact opposite, moving into a 1920s gem on the city’s storied Gold Coast.
Bloom, a designer and general contractor, in her office. The desk is custom, the tall table lamp (right) is by RH, Restoration Hardware, the curtains are of a Romo fabric, and the ceiling is covered in a Schumacher wallpaper.
After a stint as a vintage jewelry collector and seller (she is legendary around town for snatching a 17-carat yellow diamond ring at auction in the middle of an especially frigid winter, a feat she managed while clad in moon boots and a parka), she made a complete career switch and recast herself as a general contractor, albeit a particularly glamorous one.
With her own 17th-floor apartment as her calling card, she threw herself into the work—finding contractors, sourcing finishes, negotiating jobs. Before long, she was buying, renovating, and flipping properties—overhauling 11 units out of 47 in her own Gothic building alone.
She would often make extended trips to Europe to shop for vintage finds for her clients, spending weeks at a time renting an 18th-century apartment in Paris’s Marais district. She envisioned re-creating the atmosphere of a French interior in her Chicago penthouse. The first thing she did was to open up the 1970s dropped ceilings. She was startled to find an extra three feet of space hidden overhead. “What a gold mine that was,” she says.
Given the scale of the project, she decided against going it alone and enlisted the services of Bories & Shearron, a New York architecture-and-design firm. “She wanted to do things differently and have fun,” says James Shearron, an interior designer who introduced Bloom to Miles Redd, an ED A-List decorator, whose color-punched style she had long admired, and who soon became a friend.
Shearron and his partner, architect Richard Bories, lined the walls of Bloom’s cavernous living room with floor-to-ceiling French paneling painted in a soft gray hue with a hint of periwinkle. “As the sun goes down,” Bloom says, “the space glows purple.”
In the master bedroom, the B&B Italia bed is in a Holland & Sherry wool, the desk is by Lucien Rollin, and the chair is by Oscar de la Renta for Century. The 1940s console was purchased in Paris, the walls are sheathed in a Holland & Sherry fabric, and the unsigned artwork is from Redefined Chicago.
Meanwhile, her sense of determination never flagged. When she hauled home a mantel from the Paris flea markets, she convinced her condo board to let her put a hole in the roof of the nearly century-old building and install a working flue. The master bedroom’s domed pendant was inspired by a similar piece she spotted in an Italian art gallery. When she couldn’t find a manufacturer to make it to her specifications, she found an artisan on Etsy to create a custom version.
In her kitchen, she put a traditional spin on stainless steel cabinetry with brass inlays. With the help of a local hardware maker, she even designed her own hinges and drawer pulls. “I would never go into a store and just buy something,” she says. “That isn’t fun for me. It’s all about the process and the hunt.”
These days, Bloom is applying her obsessive attention to several high-end renovations in Chicago and New York. More than a few clients have asked for re-creations of her Parisian-inspired penthouse, but she always declines. “I appreciate that they love it, but I’m already on to the next thing,” Bloom says. “My style is constantly evolving.”
Source: Elle Decor*