When a young family decides to make the move from the city to the North Shore, very often it coincides with their children starting school. In the case of this particular family, who decided to relocate from Bucktown to Winnetka, their eldest daughter was entering third grade, and their youngest daughter, who has special needs, was about to start kindergarten. “We specifically chose Winnetka because of the school system,” the wife says. “Because of my daughter’s needs, we knew we didn’t want to do a heavy renovation, so we sought out new construction.”
Shortly after they found the house, which was in the process of being built by Glenn Gutnayer, this family enlisted interior designer Jamie Schachtel to help them turn it into a home that would suit their family. “By and large, Jamie and I designed it to check all the needs of my family members,” the wife says. “My home office was extremely important for me to work uninterrupted. For my daughters, I wanted them to have their own bedrooms and bathrooms, and I wanted both to be en suite. It was also important to have a nice playroom for the girls. And the entire lower level of the house is really for my husband—TV area, bar and gym.”
Luckily, getting to know her clients and designing with their needs in mind is something that comes naturally to Schachtel, who often hosts meetings over dinner and wine. “I believe the design process should be fun,” she says. “A lot of my clients are sad when it’s over.”
Schachtel incorporated a number of coastal elements into this sophisticated and comfortable house that’s just a few blocks from the beach, including a palette of grays, whites and blues; grass-cloth wallcoverings; and a showstopping nautical wood ceiling in the kitchen and family rooms. And yet, this family didn’t want to leave the city behind entirely, so Schachtel gave the home a modern, urban edge with dark gray floors, clean lines and glam elements, like Murano glass-encrusted wallpaper in the dining room.Not surprisingly, however, a number of choices were made with their child with special needs in mind, including furnishings with rounded edges, a pleather banquette in the kitchen, a heated driveway to address balance issues compounded by ice and snow in the winter, and a magical playroom that features a swing hanging from the ceiling. While it was intended as a form of sensory therapy, the swing is in high demand on playdates. “Literally everyone wants to swing in it,” the wife says.