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Movin' On Up!

Television host Kelli Zink gets the keys to a condo complete with 360-degree city views—and it’s only looking up from here!

“We spent a lot of time looking for the perfect dining table,” explains designer Wudtke of the Roche Bobois piece.

Kelli Zink has a ton of reasons to smile these days. Two of them are nipping at her heels—a pair of adorable 15-week-old French bulldogs—and another, her equally adorable boyfriend and newest (human) roommate, is trying to keep the pups from getting into everything in sight. The sun-washed penthouse in River North they all just moved into would certainly draw a grin from even the grumpiest of folks as well.

The bubbly strawberry-blond TV personality—who hosts CelebTV, appears regularly on local and national shows such as Good Day Chicago, and covered the MTV VMAs this April—met the local financier about a year ago. Early on, talks turned to cohabitation, and soon the house hunt began. “We started looking at places online and I said, ‘I found the most perfect place for us. You are going to die!’” explains Zink. “He looked at it and said, ‘I called my Realtor. We set up the appointment for today.’ We had to see this place ASAP!”

Weeks later, offers were made and accepted, and the 3,000-square-foot condominium was theirs. Then came the tricky part: the meshing of the aesthetics. “I didn’t want to give up my identity—that was really important to me,” says Zink. “So my record collection is over there, and those are his old Sports Illustrateds. It was a merging of our stuff.”

The merger went well, thanks to Cameron Wudtke, the interior designer they heard about through a mutual friend and hired after closing on the place six months ago. Wudtke was able to translate their individual design inclinations into one seamless sensibility. Zink’s new man had some family heirlooms he wanted to give real estate to—a pair of caramel-colored leather midcentury lounge chairs, an antique Persian rug and a colorful framed abstract print—and she wanted to contribute a few contemporary furnishings, like the chrome and Carrara marble side tables, teal velvet-upholstered armchairs and a concrete coffee table from CB2. Together, you could call their style “youthful chic,” as Wudtke has dubbed it. Meaning, “unpretentious, livable modern, and a balance of beautiful and fun,” he says.

Another way to describe the look? Surprisingly low-maintenance, especially for a gal known to skip around town in Manolos and frilly clothes, perfectly primped at all times. “My biggest thing in life is that I want everything to be comfortable,” says Zink. “I want people to come over and feel like they can live.”

Speaking of boundaries, the sky’s the limit with this pad, seeing as how the entire top floor is an open outdoor deck area. An impressive steel and wood floating staircase ascends from the main level to the rooftop, where a faux lawn from RugZoom (a local company) allows the pups to play while the duo enjoy happy hour at the separate dining area—all while the sun sets over the city. An added bonus? The forthcoming outdoor shower, a must-have for the man of the house.

A few other non-negotiables were contemporary interior architecture, ample natural sunlight and an amazing space to entertain. Hence the top-of-the-line Arclinea kitchen with sleek, high-gloss white lacquer cabinetry, stainless steel countertops and Gaggenau appliances, which opens to the double-height living and dining areas that make up the great room. An ebony leather Roche Bobois sofa adds a masculine, almost automotive contrast to the metallic silver and bronze patchwork hide rug. The modern mantle is anchored by two midcentury-inspired wood cabinets—one a bar, the other storage—that aren’t perfectly matching, but play quite well together.The dining area lets the skyline take center stage through the floor-to-ceiling fenestration, and a glass and concrete table from Roche Bobois and the Ghost and nailhead-embellished leather Victorian chairs make room for at least eight guests. An antique Persian underneath offers a warm, Bohemian feel, and—with the candles on the table alight with flame and sparkling water available on command—it’s obvious these two are social specialists.

So what does the pair enjoy, other than playing host? Travel seems to be a theme, as photos abound of them against exotic backdrops. A house tour also reveals a budding collection of artwork from all over the globe. In the living room hangs a bold, primary-colored canvas they purchased at Fábrica La Aurora in San Miguel. Other pieces from Mexico are scattered throughout, as well as three sculptures composed of WWII artillery shells and propaganda photos from decor store 24e Design Co. in Savannah, Ga. Two sizable works in the front entry by William Cordova—one in shades of blue, the other lipstick red—were purchased from the former owners. “They’re just amazing, and they fit the space so well,” says Zink. “And in a place like this, go big or go home, right?”

Styling by Cameron Wudtke
Florals by Matthew Smutnak of Christine Noelle Design