Saving Grace

Designer Michael Abrams creates a sophisticated abode in a converted Lake View church

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The master bedroom has some of the most dramatic windows in the space. The apartment’s previous owner had the floor-to-ceiling ripple-fold drapes created in a lightweight chocolate wool suiting fabric. Abrams tweaked the wall colors and added a classic bed from Baker and luxurious bedding from Bedside Manor.  ::: view gallery

The most important things in a room are the people who use it, then the artwork, and then the furniture,” says interior designer and architect Michael Abrams.

Just one look at the three-bedroom Lake View condominium he shares with his partner, Doug Elliott, and their dog, Tovah, reveals that Abrams practices this design philosophy as well as he preaches it. The space, a sprawling 2,300-square-foot layout created inside a converted early-20th-century Episcopal church, is designed for entertaining, made cozy with warm colors and textiles, and enlivened by an extensive art collection. Sofas and settees provide comfortable perches but let the other elements in the home take center stage.

“We loved the uniqueness of this church,” Abrams says. “And the space was done so well, we didn’t need to change anything when we bought it.” The L-shaped second-floor space, situated in an area that was once the nave of the church, features dramatic arched windows and high ceilings. The architect who converted the church, Alex Pearsall, created a round entry hallway to give the unit a focal point, and it’s from this space that the two wings of the apartment flow.

Abrams, who began his career as an architect and launched his design firm eight years ago, purchased the apartment, one of five in the building, after downsizing from a Lincoln Park single-family home he and Elliott had bought and restored as an investment. Though the new apartment’s previous owner had left some elegant finishes—a zebrawood fireplace mantel in the family room, chocolate-stained cabinets and a Viking range in the kitchen, a floor-to-ceiling walnut built-in cabinet in the living room—Abrams updated the wall colors and brought in a furniture collection that includes everything from Le Corbusier chairs to antique Chinese cabinets.


Photograph: Andreas Larsson