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In the lake room, large windows, alabaster lamps, linen sofa and Venetian plaster serve to amplify the light from outside.


Mediterranean Manor

By Zlata Kozul Naumovski

Photography by Michael Robinson


The Italian countryside inspired this Glencoe home where every room is for living.

MERE SOUVENIRS WOULDN'T suffice for this family of five after a trip to Tuscany. Instead, they brought back inspiration for their new home. So smitten were the neurosurgeon and his psychotherapist wife with the Palazzo Terranova that they took photographs of the picturesque 17th century villa nestled in the verdant hills of Umbria and used those as inspiration for a family home equally as warm and stunning.

“We love the countryside of Italy,” the wife says. “We have been fortunate to travel several times to Tuscany and Umbria, and fell in love with the beauty of the architecture and design there. We wanted a home that was reminiscent of the gorgeous villa we’ve spent time in.” To that end, they called upon architectural firm Morgante-Wilson to complete the interior architecture and design of their 10,000-square-foot lakeside Glencoe home. Warm colors, a mix of antique and contemporary furnishings, and inviting fabrics combine to create a sense that the pieces in the Tuscan-style home were collected over time. Clear sight lines, and a color palette of blues and greens pulled from the water and nearby ravine, blur the lines between inside and outside.

“The home is on a secluded lot on the lake with a private driveway,” says K. Tyler, interior design principal at the firm. “We wanted to optimize views and create a very comfortable home for everyday living and entertaining. It has a lot of Old World charm to it.”

Terra-cotta floor tiles are responsible for much of that charm. Imported from Mexico, they are virtually impervious to the demands of three children ages 12 to 18, two dogs, an assortment of fish and one cockatiel. Each brick—from the entire floor on the first level to the groin ceiling in the dining room—was individually cut, numbered and laid by a team of skilled masons. In the foyer, the masons created a concentric pattern, and in other rooms, the bricks form a herringbone pattern. “Every time you step over a threshold in the house, the pattern of the floor tiles changes, just like it does at the Palazzo Terranova,” the wife says. “The masons were so lovely and enjoyed the chance to showcase their work.” The floor tiles also feel really good underfoot and distinguish the couple’s home from a typical North Shore mansion. “The terra-cotta floors feel authentically Italian and add a lot of old-world character,” Tyler says. 

The countertop on the island is quartzite

This feel is also achieved through the collection of antiques purchased by the wife and sprinkled through the home, including a pair of 19th century chandeliers and a set of chairs in the dining room. “Antiques give the home a lot of authenticity,” Tyler explains. “The home has a nice balance of new and old.” The chairs—not all identical, to avoid looking like they’re intended for a conference room—were upholstered in five different fabrics to add warmth. They accompany a custom-planked dining room table with distressed detailing. “We can seat 26 people around the table without leaves,” the wife says. “There’s plenty of room for everyone!

In the library, wood paneling and a coffered ceiling with suede wallpaper create an acoustically quiet room, amplifying the cozy and inviting feeling the family desired. Modern ceiling light fixtures provide a nice counter note. The mood and palette are considerably lighter in what is appropriately called the lake room. “It has gorgeous views of the lake,” Tyler says. “We wanted a room dedicated to just appreciating that beautiful view.” Caned furniture, a jute rug and cerused white oak beams don’t compete with the mature maple and oak trees out back. “The home was designed to maximize views of the outside,” the wife says. “We can see the change of seasons from every room. We have views of the beach and water, and of the ravine.”

Meanwhile, the family room is an open invitation for everyone to pile onto the giant sectional upholstered in a durable fabric with depth and texture. The nearby music room enables the kids to practice the piano, violin and guitar. A cozy little breakfast room creates an intimate spot for the family to share a meal. “You have different experiences throughout the house,” Tyler says. “Nothing is for show. Everything is for living.”

And that’s exactly the way this busy, travel-loving family of five wants to keep it. “Our home has great energy,” the wife says. “I love it and I think people love it. We want our home to be a refuge. We’re so fortunate to have it.” 

In the library, all the books came with the homeowners, as did several of the chairs, which K. Tyler reupholstered in a masculine fabric.