Piquant patterns and concentrated colors set the stage for a family’s reinvention.
Two circumstances helped designer Lisa Wolfe take big swings when it came to this Lake Forest home for her client, Gina. The first: Gina was ready for major change. After leaving a marriage (and a home she’d described to Wolfe as “very cold”), Gina and her kids were ready for space where they could “roll around,” unafraid of scuffing floors or leaving fingerprints. The second: Gina had pointed to an example on Wolfe’s website. “I want my house to feel like that,” Wolfe remembers Gina saying, “like everyone’s having a good old time.” The house was Lisa’s own.
Initially, the new space was a blank slate. “She had the clothes on her back and some bedding,” Lisa recalls. First, they tackled a family gathering space, which Wolfe made whimsical and cozy using a dark wallpaper with bright birds in flight, an extraordinary patchwork rug, and a very special piece of art. Gina’s ten-year-old child had created an image of a night sky; when Wolfe saw it, she said, “We’re going to frame that and put it in the family room.” Not only is it now the room’s focal point, but every time the young artist looks at it, Wolfe says, he is “so proud.”
Bold wallcovering continues in the dining room, where larger birds soar from floor to ceiling, above a ‘sea’ of animal print. “I wanted it to feel like you were at the center of the tip of a mountain and all you could see around is ocean and sky and birds,” says Wolfe. The home’s powder room already had exciting, patterned paper. And, though the client initially assumed it would be axed, Wolfe said: “Let me show you how we can work with this and make this bathroom sing.” She did just that, with a hot pink ceiling so bright, she says it looks like “molten glass.”
Wolfe lauds impeccable painting by Ragsdale for both that highlight and another colorful ceiling—the bold green one in the bedroom of one of the home’s young artists. Originally, Wolfe intended to use the hue on a midcentury dresser, but Gina’s son loved it so much that the color eventually ended up on both walls and ceiling—a bold backdrop for the art of a boy perpetually producing more. The droll light fixture—reminiscent of a jester’s hat—is another nod to his humor and creativity.
In the kitchen, Wolfe wanted people to be able to “take a breath” between the bird-bedecked family and dining rooms. But even in a space that includes relatively restrained countertops, and a backsplash by Artistic Tile, there are non-traditional choices, including flush-mounted star fixtures above the island, and cabinetry in a shade of blue from Benjamin Moore so striking that—when Gina chose it—Wolfe thought, “You’re kidding! You’re going there with me on this color?”
Discussing yet another impactful wallpaper (a metallic floral that explodes from the foyer, down the hall, and up through the second floor, as well), Wolfe emphasizes that, when she surveys the home’s many bold choices, “It’s important to me that it makes sense and that there’s a sequence and there’s a balance.” So how does she find it? “Oh,” Wolfe answers with a joyous laugh, “that’s just magic.”