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In the living room, Ralph Lauren club chairs face each other near the TV or join the cozy seating area in front of the fireplace, where an upholstered bench serves as a coffee table. Photo Gallery »
Photo stylist Leslie Dyke uses flowers and props to make other people’s rooms look picture perfect, but she says function comes before form in the four-bedroom home she shares with her husband and three sons in Glencoe.
“If boots are always in the same place on the floor, then that’s where a basket for them should go,” says Dyke. “I believe that everything should be casual enough and flexible enough to be moved from room to room and still be functional and lovely.”
Originally built as a summer cottage in the early 1900s, the 2,800-square-foot house still has its original beadboard ceilings, exposed structural beams, and a large brick fireplace in the living room. A neutral palette of beige, white, and black makes it easy to rearrange furniture and rethink spaces.
Creating visual harmony has nothing to do with formulas, Dyke says. “If you line everything up symmetrically, it becomes too rigid, so I like to throw something in to balance it in my eye. The ultimate goal is for the eye and the body to rest.”
Achieving that effect means being open to mixing pieces of different periods, materials, and scale, as well as color and form. In the living room, six old glass oil lamps that belonged to Dyke’s parents sit atop an antique dresser; a contemporary black-and-white photograph by Jack Spencer hangs just behind them. Nearby, a classic modernist black leather side chair looks perfectly at home with a curvy three-legged pedestal table of traditional design; an upholstered bench used as a coffee table keeps the metal-and-leather idea going over by the couch.
The dining table is made of two vintage work tables pushed together (and easily separated when desired). Dyke enjoys their rustic charm and also their provenance—they were originally used in a boys’ camp in northern Wisconsin. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a piece in the home that isn’t significant to her in some way. The cupboard in the dining room, which Dyke bought while on vacation in the Northeast about ten years ago, brings up its own set of memories.
“Every time I walk by the cupboard, I remember Nantucket,” she says. “Almost everything in the house tells a story.”
Photograph: Nathan Kirkman