Now Playing

Style Fusion

Sumptuous fabrics soften crisp lines of modern architecture, merging two different design tastes into one cohesive look.

The living room of this Lincoln Park home by Tracy Hickman pairs modern furnishings, like Holly Hunt club chairs and coffee tables from Bradley Hughes, with sensual textiles, like a Holland & Sherry wool rug, shearling pillows and a hair-on-hide occasional chair, to satisfy her clients’ disparate tastes.


“The skylight was a piece of art in itself,” says the wife. Architect Kevin Toukoumidis at dSPACE Studio made the most of a narrow footprint by building up. “I wouldn’t want anything bigger; we utilize every inch of the space,” the wife adds. 

Built-in walnut cabinetry houses a bar and coordinates with architectural woodwork in the husband’s closet. 

The everyday dining area features a dining table with a solid, live-edge walnut top from Casa Spazio, Blaine dining chairs from Caste Design and a custom light fixture by Kevin Reilly. The wall is upholstered in Stingray Jellyfish leather from Holly Hunt.

In the master bedroom, pendants by Lindsey Adelman and nightstands from BDDW provide symmetry on either side of the Archway bed from Holly Hunt. Hickman upholstered the wall in a Bernie de Le Cuona fabric and customized bedding with Sandra Jordan Prima Alpaca. 

It’s a story familiar to many young couples in Chicago: buy a dated ’80s home in Lincoln Park—complete with a glass-block wall—for their family of two young children, with a third on the way, and a dog. He loves modern style, while she’s more of a traditionalist. With dreams of cozy nights and raucous play dates dancing in their heads, what’s a duo facing a daunting renovation to do?

Enter Kevin Toukoumidis of dSPACE Studio and Tracy Hickman of Hickman Design Associates, who took this narrow structure to new heights—literally. Toukoumidis added a third floor, giving the couple a spacious master suite, and replaced the glass block dominating one exterior wall with a smooth sheet of glass. Ceilings were raised; a floating staircase of steel and walnut was built; and visions of a warm family home started to take shape.

“The husband likes more midcentury and modern, and the wife wanted something more transitional and soft,” Hickman says. She worked closely with her clients to choose fabrics and furnishings that would complement the architecture while warming up the space and still satisfying their disparate design tastes.

To that end, Hickman deployed natural wools, shearlings, linens and leathers throughout the home, giving a nod to the midcentury vibe while softening the crisp lines of the architecture and adding some pattern for interest.

“It was more about texture and layers and subtle tones,” explains the designer.

In the long and rectangular living room, she swathed a 13-foot custom sofa in a charcoal wool cashmere, countering the straight lines with a pair of curved chairs for a relaxed look. Accented by walnut cabinets with a clever sliding panel to conceal the television, the room appeals to both husband and wife.

A banquette in the kitchen is covered in a durable outdoor Perennials fabric. Behind it, Hickman upholstered a wall flanked by glass with leather panels to “give some softness to the space,” she says. A live-edge walnut table can handle anything the kids throw at it, as can the dining chair seats, which Hickman audaciously furnished in a white outdoor velvet.

Though stair treads are bare, the three-story glass wall is draped with a sheer metallic fabric, which is motorized for flexibility. “It gives a little opacity so you don’t have to look at brick walls,” Hickman says. “It shields you a little bit from the hard lines.”

Layers of alpaca and linen create an intimate master bedroom. The adjacent man cave—complete with a wet bar—includes a natural hair-on-hide chest that doubles as a coffee table, and a blue sofa with a leather seat and double boucle cushions.

Throughout the home, the wife notes the fabric selection, mixture of textures and furniture design that helped mitigate the stark, modern architecture. The only thing missing? “I wish we had a yard, but it’s the city,” she says. “We live seven houses away from a park.” In other words, their vision is perfectly complete.