That old saw about the cobbler’s children not wearing shoes certainly doesn’t apply to Chicago builder John Barrett. When his family outgrew their townhouse in the city, Barrett decided to build a dream home in Glenview that was every bit as luxurious as the homes he builds for clients. After finding a lot, Barrett and his wife, Jenna, got to work, sifting through thousands of photos of trimwork, flooring, tile and decor they planned to draw from for their new house.
Luckily, they had some help putting it all together in the form of interior designer Rosemary Wormley of Ash Street Interiors. Jenna had seen Wormley’s work on Instagram, and after meeting her, the couple knew she was up to the task. “The most challenging part of this project was going to be working with difficult clients, those clients being ourselves,” Jenna jokes. “We were making changes throughout, up until the last few weeks of the build.”
While he could have easily done what he’s built before, this developer was not interested in creating a replica of any of his homes. “I wouldn’t say there’s anything we did here that we specifically do everywhere else,” he says. “Although there are a number of things we did here that I hope to do again somewhere else, like the marble mantel over the range and the oil wax finish on the floors.” That finish worked well with the aesthetic this couple chose, Wormley says. “They’re a young, growing family, and they really wanted something that didn’t feel very formal. And they wanted a light, bright open floor plan where the rooms were defined by the flooring, the lighting and the furnishings.”
As for those furnishings, the couple quickly realized that the scale of the furniture they had in their townhouse was all wrong for this home, so with Wormley’s assistance, they started from scratch, achieving an understated elegance by layering textures throughout the house. Wormley selected a mix of linen weave, boucle and velvet fabrics, along with distressed wood and grain leather pieces, metal accents and dramatic lighting. Wallcoverings were selected to mimic fabric and add dimension, including a herringbone paper in John’s office and a blue-gray crosshatch linen paper in the dining room.
John’s favorite room, however, is the kitchen, where he and his family spend the most time. The cabinets, a mix of taupe and pewter, were done by Jean Stoffer, who’s worked on a number of projects with John. The couple both like to cook (his specialty is breakfast), so the kitchen was outfitted with multiple prep and serving areas, a double Wolf griddle, a built-in coffee bar, two separate Sub-Zero units and a set of Sub-Zero drawers on the island. A prep sink on the island—a popular feature in Barrett Homes—prevents traffic jams when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Yet another myth this particular family has debunked.