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The owners are fans of straight, clean lines (as evidenced by the staircase)-there is hardly anything round in the whole house. Everything interior designer Jillian O’Neill added to soften the lines, from the slight curves in the Barbara Barry chairs to the rocks in the fireplace, is subtle yet full of impact. ::: View Photo Gallery
FROM THE SIDEWALK, the two-story brick building looks like any of the hundreds of new houses that have sprung up along North Side streets in the past few years. But stroll up the front steps-complete with built-in stone planters for seasonal flowers-past the gentle trickle of a waterfall in the entryway, and through the elegantly understated living room and dining room, and you are met by a showstopping vista: a massive, gleaming kitchen that opens onto a stylishly contemporary family room, which in turn looks out on an inviting outdoor seating area and garden. The house seems to expand as you move through it, with each room enhancing and complementing the others.
Such a vision doesn’t just happen, of course. The homeowners (they asked not to be identified by name) spent almost two years creating their dream home on two adjacent lots in Roscoe Village. They wanted a house that would allow for frequent entertaining but still feel comfortable for their seven-year-old daughter and her friends. “The whole design was dictated by having a huge family kitchen,” the wife says.
Working with up-and-coming interior designer Jillian O’Neill and builder Reid Johnson of Edison Builders, the owners’ first big decision was establishing an overall style. “I wanted a contemporary look, but not stainless and stark,” the wife says. “There’s a focus on straight, clean lines. There’s hardly anything round in the whole house.” (Indeed, even the recessed light fixtures in the kitchen ceiling are square, rather than round.)
The two women worked closely on every aspect of the house’s look, and the homeowner praises O’Neill’s attention to detail (“She helped me pick out everything from built-in shelves to bedspreads").
Focusing on the kitchen first, they chose Poggenpohl cabinets, which had the desired contemporary look combined with a warmth that makes the room feel welcoming. O’Neill added a dark red glass backsplash to complement red decorative accents in the adjoining family room, where the neutral-colored furniture is enlivened by textured pillows. “When all the basic pieces were in, the space felt bland,” O’Neill says. “Layering in pillows and artwork changed the whole look.”
Although the family room doubles as a TV room-complete with a wall-mounted flat-screen TV-most of the audio-visual components are stored in a control center in the basement. A custom stainless-steel fireplace surround was inspired by a photo in a design magazine that both the homeowner and O’Neill brought to one of their first meetings (a sign, both say, that they were on the same wavelength). Built-in custom shelves flank the fireplace; cabinets with sliding doors keep remote controls and DVDs hidden away.
Another key element in the home is natural light, especially evident in the open living room and dining room. One side of the house overlooks a garden; large windows take advantage of the view. French doors in the dining room are left open on summer nights to give diners the sensation of eating outdoors.