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By Zlata Kozul Naumovski | Photo: by Mike Schwartz | October 12, 2017
A great designer-client relationship resulted in the freedom for Jennie Bishop of Studio Gild to make bold moves and introduce a new way of living for a young family.
Trust between a designer and client is paramount. For Jennie Bishop, a principal of Studio Gild, and Sarah and John Cobb, who hired her firm to remake their three-bedroom Lincoln Park condo into a family oasis with lots of room for entertaining, that trust came quickly and easily.
“When we were brought on board, the clients’ home was essentially a blank canvas,” says Bishop. The kitchen and bathrooms were mostly complete in the Booth Hansen-designed building, but the rest of the condo offered the designer a clean slate. To start with, the designer sealed one of two entrances, added millwork and cleverly converted space by transforming a storage closet into a pantry and home office.
But with about 3,400 square feet of primarily a large rectangle at her disposal, Bishop’s biggest challenge was to make the family room, dining room, living room and foyer work well as a cohesive whole while maintaining their separate functions.
“We wanted to easily use the separate spaces while feeling like we are together,” says Sarah, a former executive at Neighborhood Parents Network. “We wanted a space that was cool and modern but also comfortable and inviting.”
Window treatment and wallpaper product specifications aside, the true test of trust came when Bishop suggested an alternative floor plan layout for the large open space. “They didn’t have a defined foyer,” the designer explains, “and when you entered from the elevator, you immediately walked into the living room, which connects to the dining room, which connects to the family room and kitchen.”
So Bishop presented three floor plan options, and to her delight, the couple chose the most daring and unexpected layout.
“We showed them this plan that was serpentine-like. It was very atypical,” Bishop says. “Parts of the sofa in the living room let you face the foyer, the fireplace or the dining room.” This setup allows the room to maintain distinctly different functions yet not feel completely cut off from the rest of the house. For a family that came from a traditional single-family home with a formal living room and separate dining area, it was “a little daring; a little bit of a stretch,” she says.
However, her clients excitedly jumped at the chance to change things up. In fact, John, chief investment officer and executive vice president at Ventas, especially supported the unusual plan. “Run with it. Let’s be daring,” were his words to Bishop.
That trust resulted in a beautiful living room that allows for several people to relax and enjoy the fireplace from a large sectional covered in a brushed-linen and wool blend, or for an individual to read and take in views of the neighborhood from the smaller, more intimate daybed. Nearby in the foyer, covered in a Donghia wallpaper, there’s a perch to put on shoes and a mirror to do a quick self-check before leaving. The dining room, meanwhile, with its custom walnut-top dining table, offers the perfect spot to host casual dinners for friends. All areas are united by a related palette that progresses from casual and more muted to a little more formal, with intense contrast. Bishop used a piece of artwork from the clients’ own collection as the launch point and pushed the palette from oatmeal linen to deep chocolate stains, and from dark-teal velvets to inky black in the living room’s custom area rug.
Bedrooms are in the back of the condo, including a darling little room for daughter Avery and a sumptuous master bedroom with a custom walnut-and-linen headboard and a glazed linen wallpaper on the ceiling. Although the kitchen and bathrooms were already mostly complete, Bishop was able to make small tweaks, such as placing new pendant lighting over the quartzite waterfall island and installing brass bar stools with embossed leather to create a cohesive look.
“The clients were 100 percent trusting, open to our ideas and all in to have fun throughout the process,” Bishop says. “It makes such a difference. Trust is number one, and we were able to get there very quickly.”
For the clients’ part, the Cobbs have always loved home renovation and design projects, and “really wanted the end result to look unique and well-thought-out. We wanted the designers to push us out of our comfort zone while also remaining open to our ideas and concerns,” Sarah says. “Jennie Bishop and the Studio Gild team truly did both. We love our home every time we step into it.”
Jennie Bishop, Studio Gild
Leather on tables in living room
Wallpaper in foyer
Art, accessories and custom designs throughout
Sectional in living room
Fabric on living room cushions and family room sectional
White lacquer tables in living room and dining room table
Rugs in living room and foyer
Side table in living room
Eric Gushee sculpture in living room
Mirror in foyer
Poltrona Frau bench in foyer and dining room chairs