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Designer Jessica Lagrange created a softly minimalist tableau with a lacquered pedestal table and Knoll Saarinen chairs on a bare floor and a 14-pendant Bocci chandelier. See more photos in our gallery below.
Designer Jessica Lagrange faced a dilemma. Granted, she had a terrific client with great taste whose three-bedroom pied-à-terre in the posh 900 North Michigan Avenue building was turning out beautifully. It needed rugs to pull everything together, but her client was hesitant.
“I’ve never had rugs in my house on the North Shore,” the homeowner says. “I like metal and I like wood, and I like the way they look against each other.” So began a classic decorating dialogue—how to bring warmth to a modern space without compromising its cool.
From the beginning, they had talked about ways to soften the apartment’s contemporary architecture. “The client is such a minimalist, she heard ‘draperies’ and thought ‘swags.’ She heard ‘rugs’ and thought ‘Orientals,’” Lagrange recalls. “We had to show her that those things could be done in a contemporary way.”
Lagrange and her senior designer, Christina Stillwaugh, approached the issue by adding texture and little hits of color within a largely neutral—taupe, gray, and white—palette. The living room got a tactile fireplace of split-face limestone tiles, and the dining room got luscious suede-covered arm-chairs. Art adviser Patti Gilford helped the family scatter some fascinating pieces of art around the 2,900-square-foot apartment, and Lagrange and Stillwaugh took permission from a painting in the family room to insinuate burnt orange and red accessories into various spaces.
In the two teenage daughters’ bedrooms, Lagrange says, they got to go (relatively) crazy. “The colors we did in those rooms are basically what the girls responded to. For instance, the younger daughter wanted hot pink and orange.” (That particular acorn apparently fell from Mom’s minimalist tree and onto a passing truck.) For the older daughter, who is into fashion, a headboard covered with tribal Donghia suzani fabric inspired a plum-and-brown bedroom, finished with Missoni curtains. “It’s a robust mix of patterns, that’s for sure,” says Lagrange. “But the colorful rugs came last. Rugs took some convincing.”
With modernist touches such as the kitchen’s stainless steel mosaic tiles and Bertoia stools in place, it was time to broach the question of a custom rug for the living room. After refining the design of a sample too many times to count, Lagrange and Stillwaugh had a rug they knew would make a difference. “When you’re using so many shades of gray in a living room, it’s important that the carpet has a pattern that pulls it all together,” Stillwaugh says.
To the designers’ delight, the client not only agreed but also became a full convert to the Church of Drapes and Carpets. “I asked Jessica to come out to our house on the North Shore,” she says. “Now we have rugs, now we have curtains, and I didn’t think I’d ever like color—but I do!”
Photography: Werner Straube
Styling: Christina Dunne-Anderson