Hillery Estes is onto something. The owner of the high-end design company Estes Interiors, who got her start working under Nate Berkus (and previously co-owned a firm with another Berkus grad, Melanie Elston) recently launched an online offshoot of her business called Home Address, which she hopes will attract price-conscious clients. “A lot of people would love to use a designer but are intimidated by the cost,” she explains. These people can now have access to Estes’s refined taste for about a tenth of what she would normally charge. Here’s how it works: On the Home Address site, Estes (with help from her associate Meredith Smerchek) will present five different 3-D layouts of living rooms in both modern and traditional styles, which will change every six months. Clients who want access to the sources for these vignettes can pay a flat fee of $500 and order whatever they fancy through Estes, et al. Of course, clients will pay for their goods as well, but complete arrangements will always hover around a relatively reasonable $7,500, and customers can buy à la carte.
To put Estes to the test, we asked her to pull together a room for $5,000 (not including her fees) by shopping Market Square on the 15th floor of the Merchandise Mart, a new destination comprised of some 35 showrooms for interior designers whose clients want something more unusual than retail but can’t afford the prices of the big guns on 6, 16, 17, and 18. The results of her shopping trip (shown above) prove that designers aren’t only for the wealthy. 1113 W. Armitage Ave., 773-665-2285; estesinteriors.net
Here’s a person who likes to mix it up—old with new, rustic with sleek. While none of the pieces Estes used were actual antiques, she found new items, like a leather trunk from G & J Styles and the round Venetian Urn side table by Aidan Gray, both from Casa Bella (Suite 1578, 312-670-0760), that look weathered enough to fit the bill (also from Casa Bella, the G & J Styles “silver fox” faux fur pillow). A classic Lee Industries couch from Kenneth Ludwig (Suite 1510, 312-467-0530) and the Chloe armchairs by Bungalow 5 from Creative Visions (Suite 1599, 312-467-1177) establish a tone of elegance. And two lamps, one modern, by Barbara Cosgrove, from Kenneth Ludwig, and the other rustic, by Arteriors Home, from Creative Visions, provide just the tension the room needs to keep from looking flat. The painting is also from Creative Visions, as is the Bungalow 5 mirror and Arteriors Home small wood sculpture. The polished horns on Indian hardwood bases, shown in 12-inch and 15-inch heights, and the small and large bamboo boxes are both by Frances Stoia Home (at Melange, Suite 1582, 312-527-2113). Flowers by suzannecummingsflowers.com
Photography: Nathan Kirkman