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Pushing the Edge

Vibrant, unexpected colors and bespoke furnishings loosen up a formal Gold Coast home, helping its owners find their funky soul.

A spiky chandelier by Kelly Wearstler for Visual Comfort that designer Steve Somogyi describes as “a little dangerous” adds a bit of bling to the formal, oval-shaped dining room. The table is by Julian Chichester, and the leather dining chairs are from Brownstone. Somogyi spent three days painting the walls with the African Kuba cloth-inspired pattern.  

 The designers convinced the couple to keep the dark and moody paneling in the master suite and filled the space with soft and textural neutrals, including wall-to-wall carpeting from Stark, to lighten things up. The homeowners both admit it’s their favorite room in the house and frequently end the day in the Eames lounge chair from Design Within Reach. 

The colorful breakfast room with a built-in bench features drapery in a multicolor stripe by Paul Smith for Maharam, yellow Eames chairs by Herman Miller at DWR and a coral-like chandelier from Arteriors.

The designers paired a cabinet their clients already owned with new lighting and a custom rug in the front entry and jazzed up the space with painted striped walls.  

A large custom rug from Watson Smith, an oversize handblown purple glass chandelier and multiple seating areas help the large living room feel more intimate.

In the renovated master bathroom, custom steel-and-glass factory-style doors by GlassWorks flank the freestanding BainUltra tub, with one side opening to a spacious shower. “We totally reimagined the master closet and shower,” says Somogyi.  

A prim and proper vibe has its place, but it wasn’t the feeling that the owners of a four-bedroom condo on a busy corner in Chicago’s Gold Coast envisioned for their new home—despite its stately architecture. Seeking a younger, more contemporary vibe, the parents of three teenagers commissioned Steve Somogyi and Filip Malyszko, of Steve + Filip Design, to reimagine the sprawling space through a younger lens. “They wanted to give it a little bit of looseness,” Somogyi explains, “to feel a little funky and different than what would be expected in a building like this.”

The designers looked to their clients’ art collection for inspiration, pulling most of the interior colors from a painting of a guitarist in New Orleans. It hangs in the foyer, where it provides a jolt of color against the horizontal gray-and-white-striped backdrop and also hints at what to expect just inside. “It has this phenomenal color story with purples and golds, which we used as inspiration,” Malyszko explains. “They are so much fun, and the house needed to match that.”

“They were finding parts of me I didn’t know I liked and wouldn’t have been bold enough to go with,” the wife says, pointing to the massive but appropriately scaled handblown purple chandelier in the cavernous living room as one of several examples. It complements the deep midnight blue, aubergine and plum hues that can all be found in a luxurious custom bamboo silk rug and furnishings. “They would push to make us a little edgier than our initial reaction,” the wife says. “If you said I was going to do a purple living room, I would have said ‘No way,’ but that’s the dominant color, and we love it.”

In the living room, the jewel-toned rug grounds a casual seating arrangement with distinct groups of furnishings arranged for maximum flexibility. “The space can shift and move for different occasions,” Malyszko explains, pointing out that some of the chairs swivel, and the accent tables are small and portable. A pair of vellum screens flanks the formal fireplace, adding another dimension to the space while concealing the door to a minimally used seasonal closet. “Because the room is so large, we wanted to create a focal point on the wall,” Malyszko says. “When you walk in, it’s very arresting.”

As is the formal dining room—an oval space that made hanging art nearly impossible. Not able to find the right wallcovering, and still dreaming of a recent African safari, Somogyi spent three days painting a metallic mural reminiscent of traditional Kuba patterns. When the spiky metal chandelier is illuminated, the patterns appear to glow. “It’s quite stunning and really unusual,” the wife says, pointing out that it was a low-risk, high-return endeavor.

“It would be easy to paint over it if we didn’t like it.”

That’s the same argument the designers used when they convinced her to preserve the dark stained-wood paneling in the master suite. The designers added “the lightness, the modernity and the freshness through all the furnishings,” Somogyi says, pointing to the way the white window sheers and wall-to-wall carpeting with a Greek pattern de-emphasize the dark color. “It was very masculine, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to get past it,” the wife admits. “Of course, they were absolutely right, and it’s one of my favorite rooms in the whole house.”

It’s also a favorite of the husband, who enjoys relaxing in his comfortable leather Eames lounge chair at the end of a stressful day, often playing the guitar for himself or his family, who curl up on the plush sofa. “The house is very elegant, but it’s also livable,” he explains.

And that’s not the only benefit, the wife explains, of the project: “Not only are Steve and Filip great designers, but they are personal friends now, and that’s a great outcome from where we sit.”


Gold Coast

Steve Somogyi and Filip Malyszko,
Steve + Filip Design

Brayview Construction

ATS Design Studio

Ann Sacks
Bathroom tile

Lighting in entry and breakfast nook, fireplace screen in living room

Sofa in master bedroom

Standing screens in living room

Circa Lighting
Visual Comfort lighting throughout

Custom glass-and-steel doors in master bathroom

Jayson Home
Lounge chairs in living room

Julian Chichester
Dining room table

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Cabinet in living room

Table in breakfast room

Carpet in master bedroom

Urban Workroom
Custom sewing and upholstery

Watson Smith
Rugs in living room and dining room