The master bedroom has some of the most dramatic windows in the space. The apartment’s previous owner had the floor-to-ceiling ripple-fold drapes created in a lightweight chocolate wool suiting fabric. Abrams tweaked the wall colors and added a classic bed from Baker and luxurious bedding from Bedside Manor.  ::: view gallery

The most important things in a room are the people who use it, then the artwork, and then the furniture,” says interior designer and architect Michael Abrams.

Just one look at the three-bedroom Lake View condominium he shares with his partner, Doug Elliott, and their dog, Tovah, reveals that Abrams practices this design philosophy as well as he preaches it. The space, a sprawling 2,300-square-foot layout created inside a converted early-20th-century Episcopal church, is designed for entertaining, made cozy with warm colors and textiles, and enlivened by an extensive art collection. Sofas and settees provide comfortable perches but let the other elements in the home take center stage.

“We loved the uniqueness of this church,” Abrams says. “And the space was done so well, we didn’t need to change anything when we bought it.” The L-shaped second-floor space, situated in an area that was once the nave of the church, features dramatic arched windows and high ceilings. The architect who converted the church, Alex Pearsall, created a round entry hallway to give the unit a focal point, and it’s from this space that the two wings of the apartment flow.

Abrams, who began his career as an architect and launched his design firm eight years ago, purchased the apartment, one of five in the building, after downsizing from a Lincoln Park single-family home he and Elliott had bought and restored as an investment. Though the new apartment’s previous owner had left some elegant finishes—a zebrawood fireplace mantel in the family room, chocolate-stained cabinets and a Viking range in the kitchen, a floor-to-ceiling walnut built-in cabinet in the living room—Abrams updated the wall colors and brought in a furniture collection that includes everything from Le Corbusier chairs to antique Chinese cabinets.


Photograph: Andreas Larsson



Plantation shutters in the living room, custom designed by Baird’s Decorating, were tricky to make because of the unusual shape of the windows. The oversized sectional couch was designed for Abrams’s previous home but works perfectly in the apartment’s large living room. A silk rug provides shimmer.   ::: view gallery

“I’m proud of my home, but I don’t think I have any one style,” Abrams says. “‘Eclectic’ is a word that’s overused, but it’s appropriate.” 

This penchant for mixing styles—and price points from high to low—is evident throughout the home. In the living room, a custom-made sectional sofa of Abrams’s own design rests comfortably next to a lamp from Jayson Home & Garden. Over the zebrawood dining table, a modern Swarovski crystal chandelier hints at the mix of old and new, while plantation shutters give the room and its unusual bay of windows a sense of history. A traditional African wedding belt is displayed alongside contemporary photography on one wall.

“You can have the most beautiful mix of artwork, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,” Abrams says. “We have a drawing that cost $95 next to an oil painting that cost thousands, and they’re both great. It’s about mixing media and periods, and developing texture.”

The welcoming environment perfectly reflects Abrams’s down-to-earth approach to his work. Though many designers fuss and obsess over their own homes, constantly changing the mix, Abrams says he’s satisfied with his abode the way it is.

“Ever since I was a kid, I would walk into a room and redesign it in my head,” says Abrams, who completed the decoration of the apartment in less than a year. “I think your home is the most important space anyone can have. It has to be a space that you love to come home to, and—more than anything—where you’re comfortable.”

For information on resources, see Buyer’s Guide.


Photograph: Andreas Larsson