When making over a Chicago home, PROjECT Interiors kept the conventional bones however ditched the dated decor for an urban decor.
Leather, fringe and Lucite in one room, let alone on a single chair, may be too much for a few people. Yet, not for Sally Grimes or the design firm contracted to redo her uber-traditional home into a chicer, cooler version of its previous self.
A castle-like stone exterior with metal details and luxurious lighting — grand circular driveway included— befits the enchanting suburb of Hinsdale, Ill., 20 miles west of Chicago. However, Grimes, a Tyson Foods executive, yearned for a new breath of life for the spec home she and her husband Steven Grimes, CEO of Retail Properties of America, and their two teenage children occupied for seven years.
“So we took the traditional structure and updated the look to reflect the cool and chic family that’s living there,” said Lauren Warnock, senior designer of Chicago’s PROjECT Interiors. “We needed something that was overflowed with light and had glossy dark moments and pops of saturated color.”
That implied imbuing the 8,000-square-foot home with a cavalcade of texture, discovered items from the couple’s ventures and the firm’s signature rip-shred-tear aesthetic as decreed by founder and principal Aimee Wertepny. “Call us rule breakers, but we live for unkept edges, frayed and tattered anything, fringed anything, torn leather pillows,” Wertepny said. “Glam mixed with a little grit — that’s our sweet spot.”
Take for example, the head seats of the dining room table. Suede fringe reminiscent of a classic biker jacket, but in white, drips from the arms while metal studs dot a thin black leather trim. Lucite legs support the rock ‘n’ roll vibe of the custom design by Warnock. “We needed something tense and unique,” she said. “The chairs look like they’re floating.”
Edgy and authentic, or what Sally Grimes called a “modern originality,” informed other design choices, as well.
Custom, wall-mounted Lucite bars draped with gem-tone saris that belonged to Grimes’ late mother and beaded necklaces made by Ashanti in Ghana hardly look out of place in the dining room among an eclectic mix of art, including two unique pieces purchased in India by the Grimeses.
Having worked with the design team on residence before, and trusting of the pair’s instincts honed over 20 years of friendship, Sally Grimes was nonetheless surprised when she saw her mother’s saris incorporated into the wall installation. “It’s like she’s with me every time I walk through our main foyer, and the first time I saw it, I was so incredibly touched,” she said. For the requisite color pop, dining chairs by Roche Bobois are upholstered in emerald green velvet and evoke the sex appeal of a smoky, late-night lounge.
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In homage to tradition, the stone fireplace in the family room was left untouched. Warnock chose to keep the room symmetrical by pairing two sofas with RH marble slab tables. Artwork from the clients’ own art collection — including pieces by local artist Cleveland Dean—as well as their own Zulu baskets and an indian meditation bowl that personalize the space. For a dose of the unexpected, a pendant lamp from Petite Friture and a Paoloa Rizzatto for Flos wall lamp assert themselves like bold but well-behaved guests at a dinner party, noticeable but not formidable.
Making rooms for casual entertaining was essential for Sally Grimes. “We love to have guests,” she said, “and we wanted comfortable, interesting, opulent rooms to entertain in.” A wet bar in the library, cloaked in a swath of black — “the dark, sexy, moody room among a home of light airiness,” as Warnock described it — beckons for an after-dinner drink. Mix a cocktail and sink into a faux fur-lined chair. The music lounge entices with a player piano and walls graffitied with hand-painted metallic loops by Chicago artist Amanda Morrison of Color Blind Design Creative.
Sally Grimes wanted to maintain the existing kitchen, but finishes were updated. A warm gray all but erases traces of the ornate detailing of the cabinets. Moroccan tiles in a custom size from Ann Sacks now line the backsplash while a newly installed cantilevered island with Carrara countertops maximizes space.
Daughter Isabel and son Noah buckle down and do homework there, from the pretty perch of chrome and leather-strapped stools courtesy of RH. In the breakfast nook, Serpentine chairs from Ligne Roset literally ooze with texture. “They’re the perfect marriage of fun, puffy fabric and a sleek metal frame,” Warnock said. “They play double duty with indoor/outdoor fabric that handles spills and sun-drenched mornings.”
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Contrast and texture plus a little cheeky humor reign in the guest bedroom. A smooth, black channel-quilted leather headboard anchors the bed where it bristles with lines of sequins from a Moroccan wedding blanket. For an original vanity table, the Grimeses purchased a custom design created by PROjECT Interiors from a vintage door. It was donated to a social service agency’s auction that benefits the homeless and marginalized in Chicago.
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Also important is levity. Scrawled on the bedroom mirror to the designers’ peripatetic clients: “Welcome to the jungle.”
Rock lyrics not withstanding, “For a family of travelers, it was perfect,” Warnock said. “They understand it.”