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Thinking Big

An interior designer pulls out all the stops in her largely quirky Wilmette home

(page 2 of 2)

Presiding over the foyer is a nine-foot-tall architectural ornament hung over an antique jardinière. Presiding over the foyer is a nine-foot-tall architectural ornament hung over an antique jardinière. Photo Gallery »

Perhaps Edelmann sees things differently than the rest of us. She’s not only a busy decorator, but also a sought-after photo stylist who creates perfectly orchestrated vignettes for glossy mailers such as the Crate & Barrel catalog. Her out-with-the-boring, in-with-the-bold stylist’s view of the world means that she is able to find inspiration everywhere.

The bright red knobs on her Wolf stove inspired the red painted floor in the kitchen; the Bob Dylan poster in her daughter’s bedroom inspired a groovy sixties vibe for that whole room; Edelmann’s early fashion merchandising career influenced the fabrics in her son’s bedroom. “There’s pinstripe on the roman shades, starched cotton on the bed, and a flannel throw pillow—all menswear fabrics. He loves it,” she says happily.

Edelmann’s own needs are a bit more basic. Snuggled into the circular space upstairs inside the turret is a big brown beanbag chair that’s just for her. “It feels like a castle up there with all those windows around a little round room,” says Edelmann. “I wanted a cozy spot I could escape to, like a princess in her tower.”

Now that she mentions it, royalty is a bit of a recurring theme here; there are crowns of all sizes scattered everywhere. “I collect crowns,” explains the designer, pointing out a favorite from Peru that sits on an end table in the living room. She says she loves knowing the provenance of all of the things she collects. “Everything here has a history that resonates with me.”

To ward off any tendency toward busyness, Edelmann has organized this creative brew within a resolutely minimal background. She purposely ignored the colors in the house’s original stained glass windows. “They’re not my taste,” she says. “And if I pulled out a color from those windows, all of a sudden they’d be a focal point.”

Instead, she upholstered the furniture in muted shades of blond and taupe—the colors of her Wheaten terriers, Jane and Frankie. “If they’re sitting on the family room sofas, you almost can’t see where dog ends and sofa begins,” Edelmann says. She also decided to lighten up the more formal first-floor rooms with soft bluish-white walls that draw some attention, but not too much, to the house’s Victorian details.

In the end, Edelmann’s home is a study in creating a personal style blissfully free of decorating boundaries; somehow her colossal artifacts seduce rather than intimidate. In fact, you find yourself asking, why shouldn’t an enormous tortoise shell pass for wall art, or a monumental wooden sphere take up an entire window bay, if it feels this good? This is one designer who gives “living large” a whole new meaning.


Photography: Nathan Kirkman


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