French Connection

In a North Side townhouse, Old World elegance meets modern joie de vivre

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Landscape designer Julie deLeon incorporated a Mediterranean marble floor and granite fountain in the garden to make it “less an outdoor living room, more a place for repose and relaxation.” Photo Gallery »

When it comes to charm, Old Town’s Crilly Court, a dozen 19th-century homes hidden away in a maze of one-way streets, can go toe-to-toe with any Paris arrondissement you’d care to suggest. So for interior designer Lauren Lozano Ziol, who has a soft spot for all things French, finding this 1880s townhouse seven years ago meant an immediate end to her house-hunting. “I’m an Old World person at heart,” Ziol says. “I fell in love with these original moldings and the character of the hardware.”

The master bedroom is “all about touch,” Ziol says—from the piano to the satin coverlet, chair covered with linen velvet, and cotton-linen headboard. The photographs over the bed are by Noor Shikari.
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But the home she shares with her husband, Matthew, and two young sons is much less about its Belle Époque detail than it is about Ziol’s ability to take classic European antiques, mix in some modern design, and whip up a soufflé of all-American chic. Take the Biedermeier chest (a souvenir of Ziol’s days working in Rita Bucheit’s stylish shop) that sits beneath a treasured French trumeau mirror she found in Europe. As Ziol points out, “The mirror adds height to the chest, but more importantly, it reflects this drawing of Saint Cecile. Her face is so lush; her lips, her eyes.”

Ziol explains that, along with the curvy green urns and bow-bedecked curtains, Saint Cecile satisfies her need for femininity in a house full of men. Same for the luxurious master bedroom whose satin comforter “is all about the glamorous feel.” The spot she enjoys most is her kitchen, with its black cabinets and limestone counters reminiscent of an old French café. The room offers a view of the garden she planned with Julie deLeon of Chicago Specialty Gardens.

“Lauren said she wanted a Zen garden,” says deLeon, who laughingly describes how Ziol showed up one day with two decidedly non-Zen wire urns. “She can’t ever resist that bit of Old World,” says deLeon. “It makes it all so romantic.”



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Clockwise, from above A signpost for Crilly Court, a row of 19th-century homes in Old Town. The 4,000-square-foot 1880s townhouse has a fanciful Queen Anne–style façade. In the garden, curvy burnished-wire urns from Mecox Gardens contrast dramatically with the straight lines of the modern table and chairs. A granite fountain rests on a bed of pebbles. One of a pair of 1920s Parisian armchairs in the sitting room is still dressed in its original leather upholstery. Ziol lived without window treatments in the sitting room for three years until she came across this luxurious ribbon-embellished fabric at Holly Hunt. Pebble tile provides a grotto effect in a downstairs bathroom, where an antique footstool sits below a crisply contemporary Kohler sink.


Photography: Alan Shortall
Styling: Diane Ewing

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