BACK TO THE FUTURE
By Ann Marie Scheidler
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENT BORCHARDT
By Ann Marie Scheidler
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENT BORCHARDT
A contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, Howard Van Doren Shaw was recognized as one of the leading country house architects of the early 20th century. In addition to his noted work on Lake Forest’s Market Square, from 1894 to 1926 Van Doren Shaw designed a number of stately houses in an area stretching from Lake Forest to Lake Geneva.
As Chicago-area realtors with Compass, Charlie and Lauren Wood were well versed in the significance of a Van Doren Shaw design pedigree. So, when a 1910 Van Doren Shaw home in east Highland Park offered the couple a chance to own a piece of local history, they practiced the real estate equivalent of carpe diem and bought it. Their next move was to contact a former client to give the house a 21st-century makeover while honoring its early 20th-century roots.
“Charlie and Lauren were actually my realtors when I sold my home in Lake Forest,” says Jessica Margot, owner and founder of Jessica Margot Design. “When they found their new home, they knew that I could bring their vision to life.”
“The Woods are well traveled, and they wanted their home to reflect this,” Margot says. “Their home design is inspired by their trips to Tulum, Majorca, Barcelona, and Bali. Our goal was to create an antique wabi-sabi meets James Bond kind of vibe.”
The fundamental principle of “wabi-sabi” interior design is a connection to the earth and natural materials with an emphasis on authenticity. Thus, when given the choice, Margot always opted for something original for the Woods, rather than something mass-produced.
“The home had so many of the beautiful Craftsman-style elements Van Doren Shaw is known for,” Margot says. “These provided a great starting point for our design, but our ultimate goal was to give this entire home a facelift and reimagine it for how a family lives today.”
Because the home had been largely untouched for the last several decades, structural attention needed to first be paid to the home’s plumbing and electrical systems, as well as to its cedar shingle exterior and leaded glass windows. Once this was out of the way, the real fun could begin.
And the fun begins just inside the front door, with a foyer wrapped in a tone-on-tone, cream-and-gold textured Kelly Wearstler wallpaper. Treasures from the Woods’ travels accent the entryway and give a taste for what’s to come.
“It’s an eclectic mix where sexy meets simple,” says Margot, who shopped for many of the home’s new pieces from Golden Triangle, a Chicago source for unique cultural artifacts, furniture, and antiques. Circa Lighting was another Margot go-to for statement lighting that serves both function and fashion.
The foyer leads visitors to a reimagined first floor. “We opened up a number of walls on the first floor to create a more open floor plan for the living spaces,” Margot explains. “The kitchen, which is the hub of this home, was itty bitty with no storage—it was kind of depressing. We made it very warm and inviting with two different stones, one on the perimeter of the kitchen and another on the painted island for subtle contrast.”
The stone complements the European oak cabinetry and light oak flooring making it feel like a home one might book for a Barcelona holiday. The kitchen opens into a light-filled dining room with a mid-century modern dining table and chairs.
“The dining room has built-in cabinets on either side of a doorway that opens to the foyer, with wine and beverage refrigerators, a gorgeous antique mirrored backsplash, leathered stone countertop, and painted cabinetry that ties back to the kitchen island. Everything is incredibly sleek, yet functional. It’s stunning.”
Charlie’s first floor office is striking, with grey and gold Romo wallpaper accented by deep mauve paint on the ceiling and trim. Richly painted, arched bookcases flank an original fireplace that was kept largely intact. The space is sophisticated, modern, and masculine—perfect for Charlie to escape to.
Surprisingly, one of Margot’s favorite spaces on the first floor is the new mudroom.
“We moved the laundry room to the second floor,” she says. “We then created the most perfect mudroom complete with a dog bath and lockers created by floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. We have a mini-Euro washer and dryer in there, too, which makes the space just as practical as it is pretty.”
A tour of the first floor isn’t complete without a proper visit to the enclosed porch, which contains a playful element reminiscent of the faraway places the Woods have visited.
“Lauren and Charlie wanted to feel like they were swinging from the century-old trees you can see through the porch’s huge windows,” she says. So, Margot found one-of-a-kind swings from ARMAZEM. design in Chicago.
Heading upstairs, the house’s numerous bedrooms provided Margot an opportunity to incorporate that most 21st-century of needs—ample closet space.
“If you can believe it, we converted two bedrooms into closets for Lauren and Charlie—talk about a way to keep a marriage happy,” says Margot. “I’m so excited about how these turned out. They each have their own bathroom and dressing space. And when you’re in them, you feel as if you’re in the most luxurious of hotels.”
An upstairs sunroom was transformed into the laundry room with a new island in the middle of the space. Three of the room’s four walls are windows so “even in the gray of a Chicago winter, the room is flooded with natural light, which is just awesome,” describes Margot.
The home’s redesign unfolded in phases over the last 15 months, and Lauren and Charlie look forward to future projects with Margot as their family grows. Margot prides herself on being able to adapt to her clients’ visions for their personal dwellings.
“Homes and clients like these don’t come along very often—the Wood family is so important to me,” Margot says. “Because this house is on a national historic registry, we had a serious responsibility to respect how we recreated it. It’s not all new and modern. Lauren and Charlie’s global aesthetic and unique collections guided everything you see here. The magic happens when you bridge the gap between the old and new.”
To learn more about Jessica Margot Design, visit jessicamargot.com.