A photograph taken by Michael Eastman in Charleston, South Carolina, hangs over a TG Couture sofa in the living room. “I bought the photo before the house was ready,” the husband says, and designer Gary Lee kept the piece in mind when planning the living room. A cast-bronze sculpture by Fernando Botero reclines on the coffee table. Photo Gallery »
What do you do when your children are grown and gone but your art collection is growing and very much present? Expand! And reclaim some of the space the kids once occupied.
That’s what a pair of Highland Park empty nesters had in mind last year when they hired Amy Mangold of the architectural firm Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker. They added 2,000 square feet to their two-story house, built in the 1950s, pushing out the exterior and reconfiguring and reassigning rooms.
The couple calls this space off the breakfast room their playroom. With its TG Couture sofa, Hans Wegner shell chairs, and Bocci chandelier from Luminaire, it’s an invitingly casual place to relax and enjoy the view. Photo Gallery »
Key to the renovation were floor-to-ceiling windows that opened up the back of the house to the pool and the lovely natural setting. “The benefit is beautiful light everywhere in the house,” says designer Gary Lee, who was hired to decorate the newly expanded space. The couple consulted Lee after they had seen—and loved—a model unit he had designed in the Palmolive building downtown. Lee, in turn, admired the couple’s willingness to completely redo their residence of more than 25 years, toss or give away all their old stuff, and fill the renovated space with fresh furnishings.
The enlarged home provides an elegant showcase for the couple’s prodigious art and photography collection. The husband, a real-estate developer, started collecting in the 1960s, when he was involved in helping River North turn into the gallery-intensive neighborhood it ultimately became. Furnishings are sleekly sophisticated, surfaces uncluttered, the palette muted. An apple-green sofa in the playroom is the brightest item inside; elsewhere beiges, grays, and browns soften the crisp geometry of the space and lead the eye to the vista outdoors.
Stonework around the perimeter of the pool and a working waterfall are among the sensory pleasures of the backyard. “When you walk into the house, the view is so inviting,” says the husband. The two are pleased with the outcome in every detail, right down to the door handles Lee selected. “We’re very happy,” the wife says. “We love it.”
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Photography: Tony Soluri