Before and After: A Chicago Condo Becomes a Stylish Pied-à-Terre
Designer Brynn Olson of Brynn Olson Design Group was given a large but manageable task when approached by her clients to transform their nondescript modern box of an apartment into a city escape that would feel fresh and contemporary, yet still in line with their classic taste.
The two-bedroom condo is located in Chicago’s River North area and serves as a downtown pied-à-terre for the near-empty nesters who also have a home in the suburbs. No strangers to working with interior designers, the couple brought experience and opinions to the table. It turned out that Olson’s eclectic yet classic aesthetic was the perfect fit for the project. Smart custom furniture designs and curated vintage accents combine to create a thoughtful, layered space perfect for entertaining in the city. Scroll down to see the transformation.
The couple’s suburban home is decorated in a traditional style, but they wanted this apartment to have more of a big-city vibe to match the expansive views from the unit’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
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The home’s décor is a balanced mix of custom items, pieces sourced from large retailers, and curated vintage furniture and accessories. Says Olson, “We were lucky that our client wanted to achieve a unique space according to the same principles that embody our designs: a nice balance of new, custom, and vintage finds, providing a timeless foundation and layered with luxurious textures, juxtaposed materials, and an individualized appeal.”
To help square off the odd shape of the main living area, Olson designed a custom sectional to make the most of the space while also meeting her client’s entertaining needs.
A subdued palette with saturated color moments complements the furniture’s thoughtful mix of textures and styles. “The textiles selected for this residence were a true reflection of our layered aesthetic,” the designers says. “We laid a neutral foundation with varying shades of gray and infused it with with pops of jewel tones and patterns.”
Vintage pieces add collected flair to the modern space. A '40s, French, black-lacquer-and-brass buffet is an anchor under the television, while the midcentury coffee table adds sculptural artistic appeal to the compact living room. A lucite and brass fixture in the entry sets the tone for the apartment’s modern-eclectic design.
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To warm up what Olson describes as a “white box of a cookie-cutter builder’s unit,” the designer installed a Phillip Jeffries vinyl wallcovering that gives the appearance of silk, but is more functional for the couple’s pair of large, active dogs.
Having worked with interior designers before, the couple understood the importance of thoughtful details when executing the design of their second home. “This client just ‘got’ the importance of accessories, which we so greatly stress in all of our projects,” Olson said. “They allowed us collect some wonderful natural elements combined with a few edgier, more sculptural ones.”
In the guestroom, an oversized custom headboard performs double duty. An impressive focal point for twin beds, the headboard was also designed to accommodate a king bed, which the couple forms when hosting other pairs by pushing the twin beds together and relocating the side table.
As evidenced by the final design, the project was an inspiring experience for all involved. “It was an incredibly seamless project,” Olson says. “The clients' aesthetic was beautifully in tune with ours.”