Large framed mirrors behind a pair of contemporary consoles create the illusion of more space in the living room, which opens onto the dining room. A trio of Venetian glass chandeliers adds modern glamour.
Large framed mirrors behind a pair of contemporary consoles create the illusion of more space in the living room, which opens onto the dining room. A trio of Venetian glass chandeliers adds modern glamour. See more photos in the gallery below.

Being hired to redo the interior of a landmarked Astor Street mansion built in 1899 was a dream come true for designer Michael Abrams. But before he put pen to paper, he encouraged his new clients to dream a little bigger themselves.

“It was a home that needed to be restored to its original grandeur,” he says. “I felt that we should involve an architect to do it justice.” The 11,000-square-foot five-level house had been through a lot—being chopped up into nine apartments was, indisputably, its lowest point. It had later been reassembled into a five-bedroom, ten-bath single-family residence, with a rear addition that was never completed.

Abrams recommended Kevin Toukoumidis, of dSpace Studio, to help rethink the house, and the two soon began collaborating to complete its transformation. With the help of Fraser Construction, they moved, widened, and articulated walls, re-created the original windows with double-insulated glass, and installed new transom windows in the rear addition, among other bold moves. To ensure a cohesive aesthetic, they worked closely together on colors, surface finishes, and furnishings.

“Kevin and I merged our mindsets from the very beginning, which is why the result is so cohesive,” Abrams explains. “We developed that language very early in the project and stayed true to it.”

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The main staircase and the game room

Dark Meets Light

“Contrast was the clients’ mantra,” Abrams explains. Juxtapositions are everywhere, including on the main staircase (left), with its white-painted spindles and an ebony-stained handrail and steps. On the second-floor landing, a gleaming built-in bench (original to the house, it was dressed up by Abrams with a new cushion and pillows) contrasts with the oak floor laid in a chevron pattern. The original banister lamp was refinished with silver leaf and a bronze glaze. A tufted-leather Moooi Smoke chair in the walnut-paneled game room (right) has a charred frame. Light gray curtains and upholstery and a few white accessories soften the look.

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Traditional Meets Contemporary

“Our clients—a couple with three sons and a daughter—wanted a modern home, so we incorporated details that reference the classic architecture with a contemporary twist,” Toukoumidis says. Off the formal living room, an old-fashioned conversation salon (left) overlooks a very 21st-century green roof; the traditional Chesney marble fireplace mantel is paired with an industrial-style raw steel surround. Intricate plaster molding on the ceiling looks 100 years old but is actually brand-new. The Mick De Giulio kitchen (top)—with walnut base cabinets and Calcutta Gold marble countertops—occupies a modern addition at the back of the house; a rustic antique Argentine dining table was just what the designer ordered to stay true to the old-meets-new scheme. The boys’ room (bottom) includes traditional bunk beds outfitted with contemporary linens.

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The staircase, master bath, master bedroom, game room, and powder room


1. With the flick of a switch, the elegant original lay light (a type of skylight) over the staircase can be illuminated with LEDs.“In the evening, there’s this magical glowing box at the top of the stairs,” Toukoumidis says. 2. In the master bath, a modern shower has Calcutta Gold marble tile, body sprays, and a cantilevered bench. 3. To suit the master bedroom’s scale, Abrams designed a luxurious upholstered panel that takes up much of the wall behind the headboard. 4. A wool and silk rug with a geometric pattern shimmers beneath contemporary pendant lights in the game room. Built-in benches provide seating; niches are used to display guitars and sports memorabilia. 5. A simple rectangular floating marble sink gives a powder room a contemporary vibe.

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Buy Guide

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Interior design: Michael Abrams, 1901 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-248-3039, Builder: Fraser Construction, 8109 Ogden Ave., Lyons, 708-447-5705, Architecture: dSpace Studio, 2920 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-423-2920, Hallway: Platinum-glazed box, Ron Dier, Interior Crafts, Merchandise Mart, 312-943-4165. Kitchen: Design, De Giulio Kitchen Design, Merchandise Mart, 312-494-9200, On shelf: Vessels with lids, Dessin Fournir, Merchandise Mart, 312-661-0640. Hand-carved wood bowls, deAurora, Merchandise Mart, 312-644-4430. On back counters: Three-tiered horn and silver serving piece, Branca, 1325 N. State Pkwy., 312-787-6123. Gray stone bowl, Mecox, 406 N. Clark St., 312-836-0571. On island: Leather and silver pitcher and bowls, Elements, 741 N. Wells, 312-642-6574. On table: Barbara Barry vase, Henredon, Merchandise Mart, 312-464-1865. Living room: Sofa, Eurocraft, 167 N. Racine Ave., 312-850-0071, Set of four chairs, Holly Hunt, 801 W. Adams St., 312-329-5999, Large mirrors, Niedermaier, Merchandise Mart, 312-467-7008, Chandeliers and sconces, Donghia, Merchandise Mart, 312-822-0766, Draperies, Holly Hunt. “Warbird” wood sculpture by Curtis James Miller (on the mantel), Bradley Hughes, Merchandise Mart. Large vessels on console tables, Mike Bell, Merchandise Mart, 312-644-6848. White gold box on side table, Ron Dier, Interior Crafts, Merchandise Mart, 312-943-4165. On coffee table: Sea urchin sculpture, Mecox. Dining room: Table, Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Merchandise Mart, 312-337-7144, Chairs, Eurocraft. Salon: Chandelier, coffee table, Baker Knapp & Tubbs. Rug, Rexx Rug, 3312 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-281-8800, Pillows and red coral on shelves, deAurora. Throw, chess set, coffee-table books, leather-bound books, red hourglass on shelf, Branca. Bronze vase on side table from Elements, 741 N. Wells St., 312-642-6574. Ivory vessel with lid on mantel, ivory box and geode on shelves, Interior Crafts, Merchandise Mart, 312-943-4165. Red lacquer boxes on shelves, Henredon, Merchandise Mart, 312-464-1865. Large red books, Mecox. Game room: Rug, Rexx Rug. Stools, Hancock & Moore, Baker Tubbs & Knapp. Pendant lights, Tom Dixon, Orange Skin, 223 W. Erie St., 312-335-1033, Smoke chair, Moooi, Haute Living, 222 W. Kinzie St., 312-329-9000, Small bowl on side table, Dessin Fournir, Merchandise Mart, 312-661-0640. Ironies black planter and black metal bowl, Westwater Patterson, and men’s plaster bust, Mike Bell, Merchandise Mart, 312-644-6848. Ebony wood topiary, Henredon, Merchandise Mart, 312-464-1865. Plaster trophy, deAurora. Red books, silver sphere, globe, mercury glass, Mecox. Master bedroom: Upholstered panel, bench, and chaise longue, Eurocraft. Floor lamp, Baker Knapp & Tubbs. Bedside tables, Henredon, Merchandise Mart, 312-464-1865, Chandelier, Boyd Lighting, Shagreen jewelry box inside end table, Elements. “White II” painting, Young June Lew, Andrew Bae Gallery, Chaise, cashmere throw, Pratesi, 67 E. Oak St., 312-943-8422. Master bath: Robe, Pratesi. Bath accessories, Waterworks, Merchandise Mart, 312-527-1490, Powder room: Silver cup, vase, soap dish, Elements, 741 N. Wells St., 312-642-6574. Green roof: Live Roof, Spring Lake, Michigan, 616-842-1392,


Photography: Nathan Kirkman
Styling: Diane Ewing