Kendall McCaugherty © Hall+Merrick Photographers
It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday, and 51 floors above downtown Chicago, a lawyer and pediatrician couple are settling into a long day of Zoom calls (for themselves, their teenage daughter, and their visiting college-age son)—but with a whole wall of windows overlooking Lake Michigan to get them through it.
“I wanted to bring some of that color in for them,” says designer Bruce Fox, whom the family called on to do the brand-new condo’s interiors when they purchased it (the new build is an impressive building by the waterfront designed by Dan Lobitz of Robert A.M. Stern Architects), after just having returned from a six-year stint in London. “The lake can be moody and gray but also a vibrant blue.”
To reflect those colors, Fox selected Phillip Jeffries Island Raffia grasscloth in Stone Forest (a heathered gray) for the kitchen, and Farrow & Ball Light Blue, a “wonderfully relaxing and classic” shade, for the sitting room in the couple’s bedroom suite. The walls in the living room, however, are pink.
“We were inspired by a photo of London with cherry blossoms,” Fox says. “It took convincing, but I finally got them to let me try the pink, and the rose-colored velvet sofa seemed the perfect complement.” When the sun starts to set over Lake Michigan, the pale blue and rosy coral radiate throughout the apartment, connecting it to the surrounding twilight sky.
“As one walks through the unit, it almost feels like a freestanding home,” says the designer. “The building steps back, so that there are windows where you wouldn’t get them in a standard square tower.” Since Fox was brought on while the RAMSA-designed building was still under construction, he was able to complete the unit as the work wrapped up.
Fox knew exactly what his clients needed to feel at home: rooms with a distinctly British whimsy, including a mix of heirlooms and eclectic prints. In the dining room, six antique carved-wood “ribbonback” chairs with turquoise seats are paired with a set of custom armchairs upholstered in Groundworks Jubilee pattern, which draws in blush tones from the living room. “Don’t forget that one little color in a throw pillow can make an entire room come together,” Fox says. “I call them connector fabrics.”
In the end, the designer was able to celebrate his clients’ cherished time abroad in a manner that still feels youthful and unfussy enough for a family returning home. The way Fox describes the grasscloth wallcovering is true of the whole apartment: “It’s like a hug!”
Chicago designer Bruce Fox wanted this room in a high-rise co-op to feel like a cashmere sweater: approachable and elegant. Chandelier: Gabriel Scott. Host chairs: custom, McLaughlin Upholstery, in Groundworks fabric. Dining chairs: vintage, Assemblage Ltd. Table: design by Bruce Fox, fabrication by Rohan Ward Design. Paint: Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball. Art: William McLure.
The blue backdrop echoes lake views out the window. “I wanted this to be a place my clients could unwind,” says Fox. Paint: Light Blue by Farrow & Ball. Console table: vintage Romeo Rega, The FM Gallery. Chairs: custom, McLaughlin Upholstery, in Jim Thompson Fabrics. Pillows: custom, Eurocraft, in Holland & Sherry silk. Baskets: antique, sourced in France.
Family Room and Kitchen
A pop of pale yellow overhead mimics the sun’s energizing glow. “I wanted to get one more color in, and the raised ceiling seemed like an obvious spot,” says Fox. Paint: Hay by Farrow & Ball. Counter stools: Holly Hunt. Wallpaper: Island Raffia, Phillip Jeffries. Sofa: custom, McLaughlin Upholstery.
This spot’s compact enough to fit along a wall in the kitchen, bold enough to function as a visual focal point. Wallpaper: Island Raffia, Phillip Jeffries. Pendant: The Urban Electric
Co. Art: Robert Rauschenberg vintage lithograph, eBay. Table: Eero Saarinen for Knoll via 1stDibs. Love seat: custom, McLaughlin Upholstery, in faux leather by Brentano Fabrics. Pillow: custom, Eurocraft, in Pierre Frey fabric with Holly Hunt trim. Chairs: Balboa by Serena & Lily, in Holland & Sherry fabric. Curtain fabric: Muriel Brandolini by Holland & Sherry.
The formal living room is inspired by a photo of London veiled in cherry blossoms. Paint: Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball. Art: William McLure. Sofa: custom, McLaughlin Upholstery, in de Le Cuona fabric. Coffee table: antique, clients’ own.
Big upholstered pieces reign supreme here, where the family snuggles up for movie nights. Mirror: Bower. TV: Samsung. Console table: vintage Edo Credenza by Therien Studio Workshops. Chair: antique, Assemblage Ltd. Wallpaper: Island Raffia, Phillip Jeffries.
Fox incorporated select pieces from the client’s grandmother to make the bedroom oasis feel extra comforting. Chandelier: Stephen Antonson. Art: Michael Thompson. Bed frame: Barron Custom Furniture. Lamps: Aldo Tura, from South Loop Loft. Rug: Marc Phillips.
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