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Clean Slate

Studio GILD pulls off the ultimate reveal at the new Old Town digs of a family of London transplants.

Designer Jennie Bishop in the living room, who kept the space light and airy with a mix of furniture from Design Within Reach, Holly Hunt and Room & Board.

You know that scene on reality makeover shows where they have the big reveal at the end of the episode? The way Jennie Bishop (of the newly formed design company Studio GILD, formerly of Jennie Bishop Design) describes how she presented this finished four-story single family home in Old Town to her clients sounds just like one of those scenes. “They came back from vacation and were ready to see the completed space in their new home for the first time,” Bishop recalls. “I had wine and cheese out, lit all the fireplaces and gave them the keys. And they just gushed,” she says. “It was amazing.”

It does sound like a must-see-TV moment, but unlike most reality shows, this project was almost drama-free. That’s an amazing feat because designing the interior (as well as doing a full gut renovation on the kitchen, baths, fireplaces and stairs) of this 6,800-square-foot home is the kind of project that typically takes about a year to complete. Bishop and her team (including contractor Bill Bigane of Bigane Construction) started demo on the space in October 2012 and finished by February 2013. “Who doesn’t like a challenge?” Bishop says.

The deadline was tight because the family was moving to Chicago from London (and had lived in Sydney prior to that) and couldn’t really delay their move-in date. The family of three (he’s a venture capitalist) only planned on bringing clothes and just a few pieces of furniture with them, which meant a lot of new purchases needed to be made. “It was a clean slate,” Bishop says.

But the task never seemed daunting because Bishop and her clients got along so well and had the same vision from the start. “Sometimes it helps not to have time,” she says. “Because then, you just have to trust. After they got the vibe, they just said, ‘Run! And run fast.’”

The vibe Bishop achieved was modern and clean, but also cozy and textural. She used warm tones of gray throughout the home. “The family wanted a calming feel and a home that was clutter-free—and no opportunities for clutter,” Bishop says. The owner says that was delivered. “The feel is so serene,” she says. “Everyone who comes through the house uses that adjective to describe the vibe to the home.”

There are pops of color throughout, in the form of colorful rugs from One Kings Lane and Watson Smith, textured wallpaper in the bathrooms (the colorful Elitis wallpaper in the basement is especially vibrant), and the massive framed prints in the main rooms.

Most of the art in the home is new to the family too. “I’m not an art consultant,” Bishop says. “But I have a few sources in my back pocket.” Bishop showed the family some pieces she was really drawn to, and they were immediately on board. “We really just clicked on everything,” Bishop says. Some of the standout pieces in the home include provocative prints by photographer Billy Kidd. One nude print by the artist hangs in the wife’s office and is one of her favorite items in the home.

The area is also one of Bishop’s favorite spots. “It became my favorite snapshot,” she says. The bold print meshes well with the patterned rug as well as the vintage glass desk and hot pink chair from Buckingham ID.

Another favorite room of the owner’s is her 9-year-old daughter’s room. “I love the natural light,” she says. “And it’s just so whimsical, colorful and happy.” Bishop also likes the fun fabrics in shades of pink, turquoise and reds featured in the bedroom. “The one thing the daughter requested was to walk through strands of beads separating the bedroom from her bathroom,” Bishop says. “So we bought the beads and she was so excited. It was the best fifty dollars we could’ve ever spent.”

The husband’s favorite room is probably the sleek kitchen on the first floor. “The kitchen was his baby,” Bishop says. His major requests were a 60-inch-wide Wolf range and a massive wine refrigerator. When Bishop couldn’t find the right range hood, she designed one made from Luce di Luna stone from Stone Source. It ended up weighing 600 pounds, and installing it was a huge undertaking that required seven men to help secure it into place. A wall separating the old kitchen from the old dining room also came down in order to make the space more open and accommodating to hanging out as a family.

Another unexpected feature in the kitchen is the Le Deun LED chandeliers from Haute Living. When turned on, the steel circles glow like three impressive halos hanging over the dining table and stone countertop. “If they ever sell this house, I’m stealing those and replacing them with something else,” Bishop jokes.

Other standout rooms in the home include the sun-soaked solarium. “We obviously wanted to keep it light and airy,” Bishop says of the space. To achieve that goal, she stayed with the color scheme found throughout the house and added indoor plants sourced from Sprout Home. Bonus features in this area include heated wooden floors (Rode Bros. did the flooring throughout the house) and an outdoor shower on one of the two terraces. “I love the terraces,” the owner says. “I could spend hours up there taking in the beautiful Chicago skyline.”

The family also spends a lot of time in the basement, especially on weekends, when they have Saturday sleepovers on the impressive MGBW sectional sofa. The area is also a nice mix of high-low products, which is important when you’re buying so much furniture at one time. A CB2 table is paired with Design Within Reach chairs; the rug is from Anthropologie and the pillows are custom made from Studio GILD.

The family is so happy with Bishop’s work that they’re ready for the sequel: they just signed her on to design their three-bedroom vacation home in Colorado. We can’t wait for that reveal, either!


Single-Family Home

Old Town

Jennie Bishop of Studio GILD

Bigane Construction


Rode Bros.
Flooring throughout

Shannon Davis Designs
Kitchen design

Front-of-house brick staining

Autumn Ridge Land and Site Design
Landscape design

Haute Living
Custom Vioski sofas in living room

Holly Hunt
Mattaliano chairs in living room

Atelier Gary Lee
Custom benches in living room

Rug in living room

Elegant Custom Draperies
Window treatments

Lagomorph Design
Custom table in dining room

WPA Chicago
Poltrona Frau chairs in dining room

Haute Living
Le Deun chandelier in dining room

EL: Custom Cabinetry
Custom kitchen cabinetry

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Sofa in basement

Tom Dixon
Light fixtures in basement