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Close to Home
By Rebecca Taras | Photo: Cynthia Lynn | July 24, 2015
A brother-sister duo give a historic address a modern-day makeover that doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of its timeless beauty and splendor.
When you move into an iconic structure like the Palmolive Building, one thing’s for certain: An ordinary living space simply won’t do. The former Playboy Building is dripping with classic elegance, so it was just natural that resident Christopher Taylor chose to incorporate that same grandeur into his new abode. “I specifically liked the art deco influences in the units—the millwork, window casings, fireplaces and more traditional floor plans,” explains Christopher. “I looked at a few buildings in the area, but none could compare to a historic landmark with modernized technology and infrastructure that is managed by a first-class building staff—it’s a little piece of Manhattan’s Upper East Side in the heart of the Gold Coast.”
The managing director for a leveraged finance firm didn’t have to look far to find the perfect person to transform the 2,400-square-foot unit into the relaxed yet refined home of his dreams. Christopher’s sister, Kate Taylor, owns a full-service design firm—Kate Taylor Interiors—so it was a match made in heaven. Family ties aside, Christopher loves the sense of uniqueness that Kate puts into each of her projects. “My vision for the home was to create a sophisticated and comfortable space with subtle references to the history of the Palmolive Building and the art deco design of the building,” says Christopher. “Kate executed that vision flawlessly and brought it to life.”
Of course, perfection didn’t happen overnight. It took six months to transform the two-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath condo into home sweet home. Thankfully, the space already had great bones, so there was no need for any remodeling. “The focus of this project was more about design and decoration,” says Kate. “We added new furnishings, paint, wallcoverings and lighting throughout, as well as some new cabinetry and moderate updates to the kitchen and baths.”
But don’t mistake new with trendy. Kate prefers to stay true to classic and timeless designs, which in this case were showcased via brass accents, a cool gray color palette and tasteful fabrics. “We really highlighted Christopher’s high-end tastes with the textiles used throughout the home—custom drapery, custom upholstery, throw blankets and pillows,” says Kate. “We incorporated a lot of pure cashmere, wool, silk and linen that added texture,” she adds. With the use of Loro Piana fabrics from Italy, Kate also custom-designed the chairs in the dining room that, according to Christopher, have proven to be conversation starters.
But the designer’s philosophy on furnishings isn’t all about reinventing the wheel. “In any space, I like to combine high and low, old and new,” explains Kate. So, think everything from Restoration Hardware to Mecox Gardens to Chicago Upholstery & Drapery Co., with the ultimate goal being quality finishes and materials without being stuffy. Of course, personal touches also played an important role. “I travel quite a bit for work and pleasure, so it felt appropriate to integrate that part of my life into the look and feel of my home,” says Christopher. “There are a few pieces in my home—such as a framed list of London Underground stations—that represent my time studying abroad while bringing back a lot of good memories.”
Architectural details like herringbone floors and fine millwork make for the ultimate sophisticated bachelor pad, and one of the places Christopher spends most of his time is the study that previously served as a bedroom. “Kate did an excellent job turning the space into a really comfortable environment, complete with a soft leather sofa and lounge chair upholstered in Loro Piana fabric, great lighting accents and a plush area rug,” says Christopher. “All of these elements helped to create a very casual and inviting space, not only for me, but also for entertaining friends and family.” Speaking of entertaining, Christopher is not selfish with those sweeping views of Michigan Avenue and is known to host an extravagant Mag Mile holiday parade party. Rooms with a view? In spades.
Kate Taylor Interiors
Hardwood floor refinishing
Urban Paint Works
Vintage table lamps
Loro Piana Interiors
Upholstery and drapery fabric
Master bedroom rug
Living room chairs
Chicago Upholstery & Drapery Co.
Custom drapery, reupholstery and pillows
Leo’s Furniture & Upholstery
Custom Upholstered furniture
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Upholstered bed in master bedroom
Photo in master bedroom
Serena and Lily
Dining chairs at kitchen breakfast table