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The living room was designed for socializing; window seats allow guests to bask in the Millennium Park views.
We all have priorities when it comes to selecting a new home: For some, it’s a lake view; for others, an eat-in kitchen or a spacious deck.
For a radio morning show host, however, one feature is key: the place must be protected from the sun in late afternoon, when preparations for a very early bedtime begin. “For me, it was all about a view with a northeast exposure,” says the host of 103.5 Kiss FM’s irreverent, high-energy “DreX Morning Show,” which begins at 5 a.m. That means a bedtime of 8 p.m., well before the summer sun has set. “I think I’m the only person who looks forward to standard time,” he says. “I love when it starts getting dark early.”
|Hand-carved from monkey wood, the dramatic Asian wallhanging, which DreX brought with him from Texas, is considered an element of good fortune. The coated-iron Coral Twig Spray chandelier is by DK Living.|
Of course, when it came to choosing a new place to live last year, there were other considerations as well. DreX (who preferred to go by his radio handle rather than his real name for this story) wanted a high-rise apartment with sweeping views, preferably in the Loop. So when he found a two-bedroom condo in a new building overlooking Millennium Park, he says, “I knew I wanted to live here even before I came inside. I love being downtown-there’s a renewed energy here.”
Before moving to Chicago four years ago, DreX lived in a house in Texas that was furnished in what he calls “the heavy Ralph Lauren look.” For his urban bachelor pad, he turned to interior designer Jonathon G. Wells of Gregory Jordan Interiors. He wanted a completely different, contemporary look that still had room for two favorite pieces: a substantial wooden desk and a glass-fronted grandfather clock. Because DreX spends most of his afternoons at home planning shows with friends and co-workers, the condo also had to accommodate groups, with easy traffic flow between the living room and office.
For the design, Wells came up with a basic scenario: 1970s Park Avenue. “That time frame allowed us to include some older family furniture and add contemporary pieces, then build an art collection around that,” he says. “We kept the space neutral to allow the art to shine.”
The ’70s influence is especially evident in DreX’s office, where he researches and records segments for his shows. Wells took four copies of the radio host’s publicity photo and had them converted into Andy Warhol–style paintings. “If DreX had lived in New York in the 1970s,” says Wells, “he’s the kind of person who would have known Andy and would have had pictures like this in his house.”
DreX initially wasn’t so sure about having four colorful portraits of himself as the room’s centerpiece. “I was so self-conscious,” he says. “I thought, ‘I will never hear the end of this when my friends come over.’” Instead, he says, visitors have told him the pictures are one of the highlights of the apartment.
In the living room, a copper-colored fabric with a vine pattern, used to make couch pillows, inspired the vine motif on the green-and-white custom carpets. While orange and green were used as accent colors, the majority of the furniture is white, in keeping with the 1970s theme. Most of the pieces were custom made, from the sofa to a white-and-rust take on a traditional armchair to a low-slung white lacquered credenza with walnut facing that runs underneath the wall-mounted flat-screen television.
“With custom furniture, I can inspect everything to make sure it’s what we want,” says Wells. “I can control the timing-often I can get custom pieces done sooner than if I ordered something from a showroom.”
One of DreX’s requests was a conversation area outside of the kitchen. “I wanted to avoid that situation where everyone’s crammed in, sitting on the counter,” he says. Wells’s solution: a custom-made tall round table surrounded by chrome chairs with molded white plastic seats-chairs that would look right at home in a swanky nightclub. Low-slung window seats, meanwhile, allow guests to gaze out at the spectacular views of Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the rest of Millennium Park. In one corner of the room, a funky orange sculpture by artist Bean Finnerman sits on a custom-made pedestal that’s lit from within. Looking like a ceramic version of a sea anemone, it glows when the lights go down.
For the bedroom, DreX requested a “cave” where he could block out the light when he heads to bed. Wells obliged with blackout curtains but kept the room cushy. “DreX has traveled a lot, and he appreciates fine hotels,” says Wells. “We wanted to keep the feeling of a luxury hotel suite.”
The bedroom walls were painted a creamy beige that is slightly darker than the rest of the apartment. A custom-made bureau, painted in the same shade, blends into the background. Luxurious silk curtains in bold cobalt blue provide the main accent color, a shade echoed by the Missoni bed linens and a group of blue Murano glass vases on the bureau.
Not surprisingly for someone who talks for a living, DreX likes to socialize. As evening falls and the lights of the city begin to sparkle outside the windows, the space transforms into a cool, lounge-like hangout that’s perfect for cocktail parties. “At night, everything glows,” says Wells. “There’s a very warm feeling.” Which is all well and good, as long as guests don’t stay too long. After all, their host has a show in the morning.
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Photography By: Alan Shortall