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Roomy with a View

Samantha Brooks

After designing five homes for one family over the course of a 25-year working relationship, Chicago-based interior designer Cheri Friedman of Cheri Lynn Designs has come to know her clients very well. So well, in fact, that when an 8,000-square-foot penthouse on the 18th floor of a Lake Shore Drive building became available, the couple bought it at her recommendation, sight unseen. "I knew right away that it was perfect for them," Friedman says.

The home offered services her clients were looking for, such as a doorman to help with groceries and a service staff to handle maintenance, and it came with a rooftop deck two stories up, with 1,300 square feet of outdoor space (shown). Just off the deck is an additional 1,000 square feet of indoor space—a rare amenity in the Windy City—with a kitchen, living room, dining room, and bathroom.

"Their two kids were grown and out of the house, and the husband was nearing retirement," Friedman says. "They no longer needed the space of a large suburban estate, and they wanted to move back to the city where there’s more action." The penthouse not only accommodates the homeowners’ furnishings, which range from traditional antiques to more modern custom pieces, but also affords ample space for displaying their cherished collection of contemporary art.

Making an Entrance

An 85-foot-long hall of eucalyptus wood with cherry trim (left) leads from the front door to the center of the home. To the left of the hallway are four guest bedrooms and the family room; on the right is an expansive master suite. At the end of the corridor is a 950-square-foot living room (above) that overlooks Oak Street Beach and Lake Michigan. "As soon as you walk in and see the lake, your jaw drops," Friedman says. "However, when I presented my plans for how to maximize the lake views, the husband said, ‘Cheri, half the year I live on the ocean in Palm Beach. I want the focal point of this house to be the art.’ So the compromise was to use as many of the walls as possible for art while not ignoring the views."

To maximize space for art, Friedman kept draperies minimal and devised floor plans that situated the furniture away from the walls. She also limited the color palette to cream, bronze, and black. "I usually wouldn’t suggest such a neutral palette, but when I saw the colors in the art collection, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do anything bold with the color," she says. In one section of the living room, she hung a vibrant George Baselitz painting between two windows that overlook the lake. Custom-designed chairs and a sofa set off a shagreen console table and a pair of Biedermeier side tables—all pieces that feature rich textures in neutral tones.

Family Style

The homeowners’ taste in art and collectibles is perhaps most evident in the family room. A Marilyn Monroe portrait by Vik Muniz and a Martin Kippenberger painting occupy prominent wall space, while an antique pool table and cupboard sit near one corner. "The art is striking and contemporary, whereas the furnishings are more subtle and traditional," Friedman says.

The owners felt that as an anchor to the guest wing, which contains four bedrooms with en suite baths, the family room should be personal yet elegant. "Whenever the family wants to watch a football game, this is where they come. However, it is also one of the first rooms you see when you walk into the house," Friedman notes. It is more relaxed than the living room, with a balance between style and comfort. Surrounding the contemporary cocktail table are two leather chairs from Dessin Fournir and a custom sofa, which faces a 50-inch flat-screen television. Custom-designed lighting fixtures from Hilliard hang from the ceiling, giving the space a soft, warm glow.

Mix and Match

The furnishings in the dining room span three centuries, creating a whimsical atmosphere for formal entertaining. A black-and-white painting by Christopher Wool hangs on the wall that separates the dining and living rooms. "I love the juxtaposition of the traditional British dining table next to such a modern painting," Friedman says. "To keep [the room] from being too stuffy, we mixed two large Swedish Art Deco occasional chairs upholstered in silk from William Switzer with a set of six armless chairs." An antique Louis XVI gold-leaf mirror (circa 1860) hangs above the fireplace. On the opposite wall (not shown), two recessed areas with glass shelving showcase 32 of the 80 antique and vintage clocks in the husband’s collection. "The age of the clocks is balanced by the modernism of the art on the walls," Friedman says. "Every purchase the homeowners made for this home was emotional. They weren’t looking for investments—they just bought what they liked."

Suite Dreams

The 1,700-square-foot master suite comprises a series of private rooms. In the master bedroom (above), a Dessin Fournir bed and custom chairs are covered in the same cream-colored fabric so that they will not compete with a vibrant painting by Alex Katz. Friedman kept that same strategy for the guest bedrooms, one of which features a bed, bedding, and walls that provide a monotone backdrop for a colorful, large-scale photograph by Gregory Crewdson. "Because [the homeowners] weren’t trying to follow any one style for this home, it freed them up to have a lot of fun with the decor," Friedman notes. "It’s a very warm and personal house. You walk in and never want to leave."

Cheri Lynn Designs, 847.835.5355

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