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A Nate Berkus-Designed Full-Floor Condo Lists at Palmolive Building

The interiors of this high-floor unit, asking $7.2 million, were wholly conceived by Berkus working from raw space.

The living room, with blue/gray wallpaper inspired by a Parisian patisserie.   Photo: Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

Price: $7.2 million

A full-floor condo with Nate Berkus interiors at the Palmolive Building, Holabird & Root’s Art Deco queen, has listed for sale. One floor below Vince Vaughn’s triplex penthouse, this 5,200-square-foot three-bed is the building’s third-priciest unit for sale at $7.2 million. “Nate and his team were involved from the raw state moving forward,” says Ava Vorwaller, the owner of the unit with husband Greg. “He and his team helped in all aspects of the process including the finishes, the lighting, the fixtures and the furniture. They executed seamlessly.”

For those unacquainted with the Palmolive, it was an office tower for much of its life and the longtime headquarters of Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Corp. and Playboy magazine (in succession). In 2002, a luxury condo conversion was launched, taking advantage of the great Mag Mile location. By the time you hit the 20th floor, the structure narrows to the point where full-floor units are more plausible. And on the 33rd, where the featured unit lays out, you stand above neighboring buildings to the north and east.

“This is probably the lightest apartment I’ve even been in,” says Coldwell Banker listing agent Jennifer Ames, referring not only to the four exposures but also the décor. “Even from the middle of the home you get lake to the north and the Hancock to the south.” More than half of the apartment is facing the lake, according to Ames, and, unlike homes with blunt lake view and little else, your views won’t go dark at night. All four corners have something new to offer, including sightlines down Michigan Avenue and onto green roofs. State-of-the-art UV treatment on the windows protects books and art without fogging up views, and motorized blinds are tied into a unit-wide smart home system.

Booth Hansen, the architecture firm in charge of the building conversion, worked with individual buyers to customize layouts and preserve vestiges of the 1928 building. This unit still has the old plaster molding. Berkus opted for cushy vintage furniture with no redundancy to contrast with the spare elegance of the build-out, and used saturated colors to absorb glare off the lake. “There’s a lot of harmony,” says Ames. "The design didn’t go left as the building went right.”

The kitchen is an exercise in restraint. For one, it isn’t enormous. And secondly, it’s full of simple white cabinetry. The pantry isn’t some grand walk-in; it’s a cupboard. “People can go really crazy with kitchens like they’re trying to prove something,” says Ames. “This one is not at all ostentatious—it’s almost understated.” You can say the same for many rooms in the home, but perhaps not the family room, clad in leather tile with bursts of yellow-gold. It’s an important space in the home, not only for its warmth, but because it has an en suite bath that renders it a candidate for bedroom conversion. The prospect of a fourth bedroom opens the property to a deeper pool of buyers.

Berkus put it best when speaking to Chicago in 2010: “We could have added a lot more to these rooms, but I wanted your eye to be drawn to the best features—the way a woman with great legs goes for a higher hemline.”

Price Points: The Vorwallers are relocating for business. It’s clear they cherish the home and the building’s tight community. “We had not lived in a space like this before, but certainly hope to again,” reflects Ava. Several buyers toured the home as a pocket listing before the listing went public last week. Curiously, most early interest was from building residents looking to upsize on a high floor. If you go by price per square foot, this is the fifth-priciest condo on the market in Chicago, a hair above the price-per-square-foot of the $8.45 million four-bed on the 17th floor and well in excess of Vaughn’s space.

In addition to common amenities that include gym, steam room, hot tub, and ornate clubroom, the unit claims keyed elevator service, two garage parking spaces, and a valet so responsive you can text and they’ll bring your car around.

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