Make a birch coffee table

1800 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-981-7070;

The silvery birch trees that sprout through the tented ceiling at this Lincoln Park dining spot make it seem as though you’re sitting in nature. "We wanted the space to feel as if it was built around existing trees," says New York designer Christina Zeigler, who worked with fellow Manhattan architect Warren Ashworth to create the design. The birch, bark intact, was sourced from Hearthwoods Rustic Furnishings in Lakeside, Michigan (15310 Red Arrow Hwy, 269-469-5551;, where it was also treated with an organic, water-based mildew inhibitor. Six-to- eight-foot-tall birchwood trunks cost $30 each, and forked branches range from $30 for six feet to $50 for eight. Try this at home: Put a few trunks into a large floor vase to lend your space some dramatic height, or have your birch cut into short stumps, bunch them together, and attach a piece of glass on top for a funky custom coffee table.

Perfect for a built-in desk


Duchamp 2118 N. Damen Ave., 773-235-643;

Duchamp’s co-owner and designer Peter Gogarty used rich, warm American walnut to establish the rustic-modern vibe of this neighborhood eatery. The walnut flooring was used as a veneer over Baltic birch plywood to create the bar and tables, which were designed by Gogarty and handcrafted by Jonas Wahlstrom of Mode Carpentry (1040 N. Halsted St., 773-860-2421). PK Flooring in Algonquin (224-659-2323) supplied the walnut, which owner Paul Kapinos says costs $8.50 per square foot to sand, varnish, and install. "Using flooring enabled us to set a tone for the space without staining or creating any special treatment," Gogarty says. "We didn’t have to mix a bunch of materials and were able to keep a simple palette." Try this at home: Redoing your kitchen? Why not continue your flooring all the way up the sides of your kitchen cabinets, or use the same application for a built-in desk in a den? (Note the gorgeous juxtaposition of this type of wood with walls painted dark green—like those at Duchamp.)

Divide a large space


L20 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773-868-0002;

Located in the lobby of the Belden Stratford Hotel, this ritzy culinary newcomer was residential architect Dirk Denison’s ( first foray into restaurant design. He used stainless steel wire cables to divide the large space, creating an intimate yet industrial feel. Fabricated by Chicago Copper and Ironworks (3118 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-472-9283), the cables were strung between steel bars mounted to the floor and ceiling. Two such panels were positioned back to back to enhance the depth. "From one angle they look like a solid wall, but from another, they are almost totally transparent," says Denison, adding that because stainless steel reflects light, "there’s a bit of sparkle." Chicago Copper will fabricate cable panels at any height and width. Prices available on a per-project basis. Try this at home: You get the picture—a great way to divide a large space into smaller areas. Perfect for a loft because light will pass through.


Photography: (Perrenial) Jeff Kauck, (L20) Bob Coscarelli