Judi Mills-Grossman Gives Modern Flair to Her Classic Home

THE NEW COLONIALIST: A designer gives her traditionally styled house in River Forest a sophisticated modern spin

Judi Mills-Grossman and Reilly, the family’s puggle, contemplate a walk. She chose contemporary art for the foyer and other rooms; this painting is by Charles Dwyer.
Judi Mills-Grossman and Reilly, the family’s puggle, contemplate a walk. She chose
contemporary art for the foyer and other rooms; this painting is by Charles Dwyer.
See more photos in the gallery below.

 

FROM THE CURB, THE HOUSE SHOUTS WILLIAMSBURG, or at least a suburban take on it, but George Washington never slept anywhere remotely like this. Yes, the architecture of the 1946 house is colonial—bricks red, windows mullioned, front door flanked by white columns—a style any self-respecting real-estate agent would reflexively call traditional. But designer Judi Mills-Grossman’s modern spin on the old Dolley Madison look is pure genius.

“I wanted to stay true to the colonial detail, but I tend toward contemporary,” explains Mills-Grossman, who is also the homeowner. “For example, white moldings on the living room walls embellish the traditional look, but then what’s inside those moldings is modern wallpaper.” The gold paper is gently reined in by the pale blue paint she chose for the walls. “Blue and gold is a colonial palette, so I perked up the look once again with that unusual ottoman,” she says, referring to the mammoth pouf that dominates a corner of the room. “It says, ‘I’m tufted, and I’m an ottoman appropriate to a colonial home—but I’m turquoise!’”

It’s that friction of colonial rectitude rubbing up against modern flair that creates the excitement. Although Mills-Grossman and her husband, Michael, reconfigured the first floor and added 2,200 square feet overall to accommodate a larger kitchen and a new family room (as well as a powder room, a mudroom, and a garage), this wasn’t the kind of project where a shockingly minimalist interior is created behind a traditional façade. “I specialize in renovating old houses and building new houses from scratch, and we work on the space plan, not just the furniture,” Mills-Grossman says. “That’s the best way to keep architecture and interior design consistent.”

Her affection for the traditional bones of the house is most obvious in the kitchen, where the focal point is an elaborate pedimented cabinet with a built-in clock. (In this house, even the fridge enclosure takes its cues from Federalist ornament.) Classic millwork and a coffered ceiling mix effortlessly with a banquette and chairs dressed in snappy modern fabric. “This is a hard-working family kitchen,” says Mills-Grossman, mother of two teenagers. “It had to feel appropriate to the house but also work in a modern w ay.”

Throughout her home, the designer added details that heighten the Revolutionary-era appeal but have a bit of 21st-century daring. The bed in the master bedroom is a modern riff on a colonial four-poster, and the library’s draperies were pieced together from four contrasting fabrics. “The curtains are contemporary, but they are also intricate, the way a traditional window treatment in a colonial house would be,” says Mills-Grossman. “I don’t like anything to be just one note.” The result is a beautiful home that marches happily to its own drummer (fife optional).

 

Photography: Werner Straube
Styling: Diane Ewing

 

NEXT: Details »

 

Details


See more photos in the gallery below.

1 In the family room, which is part of the new addition, a painting by Stephen Cavanagh and the bold Duralee houndstooth on a pair of chairs contribute to a modern vibe. 2 The bed in the master bedroom is from Henredon’s David Easton collection. Mills-Grossman designed the bedside cabinet as a modern interpretation of an antique chinoiserie piece. 3 The screened porch off the living room is sunny all day long. 4 A new iron fence enhances the house’s prim and proper street presence.

 

Photography: Werner Straube
Styling: Diane Ewing

 

NEXT: Buy Guide »

 

 

Buy Guide

ABOUT OUR SOURCES: We attempt to provide as much information as possible about the products and professionals involved in designing the homes we show in our pages. Items not sourced here are probably not available for sale. Send questions to chicagohome@chicagomag.com. And check out Design Sources, our comprehensive list of hundreds of local home design pros, shops, and showrooms.

Interior design: Judi Mills-Grossman, Space Redefined, River Forest, space-redefined.com. Foyer: Wall color, Benjamin Moore Iced Cube Silver. Planter, Global Views, Casa Bella, Merchandise Mart, 877-205-2337. Painting, Charles Dwyer, Boulevard Fine Art, Clarendon Hills, 630-468-5500. Living room: Serpentine club chair and satin fabric, Donghia, Merchandise Mart, 312-822-0766. Tamino Ivory wallpaper, Romo, Merchandise Mart, 312-670-7666. Petrified-wood table, ABC Carpet & Home, New York. Ottoman, Space Redefined. Rug, Patterson, Flynn & Martin, Merchandise Mart, 312-644-3280. Sofa, Interior Crafts, Merchandise Mart, 312-943-3384. Sofa fabric, Kravet, 312-527-0505. Curtains, Duralee, Merchandise Mart, 312-329-0590. Young Chang piano, youngchang.com. Coffee table, Baker Furniture, 312-337-7144. Floor lamps, Sherrill Collection, Merchandise Mart, 312-527-2560. Lacquer bowl, lacquer and shagreen tray, Elements, 741 N. Wells St., 312-642-6574, elements-chicago.com. Taupe vase by Christiane Perrochon, Elements. Dining room: Table, Space Redefined. Design Atelier chairs, Merchandise Mart, 312-822-0440. Seat fabric, Saratoga, Jim Thompson, Holly Hunt, Merchandise Mart, 312-661-1900. Paintings, Roses by Carole Arnston. Stellare chandelier, Donghia. Curtains, Bengal Bazaar, Kelly Wearstler, Kravet. Sisal, Stark Carpet, Merchandise Mart, 312-329-9043. Handblown glass spiral bubble bowl, Interior Crafts. Library: Rug, Graciano, Karastan, Mohawk, Merchandise Mart, 312-337-3193. Desk, Henredon, Merchandise Mart, 312-464-1865. Blue vases, Tulipia Floral Design, River Forest, 708-209-1323. Hudson Valley Lighting sconces, Idlewood Electric, 114 Skokie Valley Rd., Highland Park, 847-831-3600. Gold-metal-dipped tree stump table, Macy’s, 111 N. State St., 312-781-1000, macys.com. Kitchen: Martha Stewart Turkey Hill trestle table with custom stain, Bernhardt, Merchandise Mart, 312-661-1146.  Chairs, Sherrill Collection, Merchandise Mart, 312-527-2560. Chair fabric, Schumacher, Merchandise Mart, 312-527-4650. Black lacquer bowl, Elements. White footed bowl, Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Merchandise Mart, 312-337-7144, kohlerinteriors.com. Family room: Chairs, Sam Moore, sammoore.com. Houndstooth chair fabric and Stripe Buff sofa fabric, both by Duralee, Merchandise Mart, 312-329-0590. Sofa, Space Redefined. Coffee table, Baker Furniture, Merchandise Mart, 312-337-7144. Martini glasses, coasters, Susan Fredman at Home, 350 W. Erie St., 312-587-8150, susanfredmanathome.com. Master bedroom: David Easton Collection bed, Henredon. Rug, Stark Carpet, 312-329-9043. Bedside table, Space Redefined. Cast metal Fret horse, fabric on bed, Interior Crafts Inc., Merchandise Mart, 773-376-8160, interiorcraftsinc.com. Pillow, Home Treasures, Designers Linen Source, Merchandise Mart, 312-755-0626, designerslinensource.com. Frette shams, Bloomingdale’s Home, 600 N. Wabash Ave., 312-324-7500. Porch: Pot, Good Earth Greenhouse, River Forest, 708-366-9500. 

 

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