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Neutral Territory

In an Oak Brook home, the design team at Vincere creates an elegantly restrained palette.

Oak Brook - living room

“We look at the bones of the structure and really want the house to reveal itself.” says Konopiots. “That room really wanted to be symmetrical.” Sofas by Kravet and Rose Tarlow lounge chairs from Holly Hunt surround an elegant Paul Ferrante coffee table. An antique rug is layered on top of a Stark sisal, adding texture and visual interest. Above the replace, a painting from Richard Norton Gallery set the tone for the room.


When the owners of a 4,000-square-foot home in Oak Brook wanted a more peaceful palette, they turned to the design minds at Vincere. Principals Michael Stornello and Tom Konopiots were determined to keep the design lively by maximizing the impact of architecture, art pieces, and open space for big family gatherings. “We discussed an overall sensibility—light, neutral and inviting—that could have a sense of formality when needed, but still be lived in really comfortably on a daily basis,” explains Konopiots.

“I think the real kickoff for this was probably the living room because those ceilings go over
15 feet, so we knew there was a real chance for some dramatic effect,” Konopiots continues. “We play on that by taking curtains high on the wall, doing the etageres so that they would enhance the height, as well as hanging two substantial chandeliers that would take the eye up.”

Those walls also left plenty of room to showcase art. The designers started by recontextualizing pieces from the owners’ collection. “The Chagall prints were great, but they were framed extremely ornately before,” said Stornello. “We wanted to redeploy them in a way that sort of suited this slightly more laidback sensibility.”

And when it came to sourcing new pieces, they turned to theMART. “The Richard Norton Gallery is a really great gallery,” notes Konopiots. “The painting above the replace in the living room is from there, and that really was something that helped the room soar.”

Oak Brook - Kitchen

With cabinetry by New Style, there’s plenty of storage in the kitchen “They have three adult children and one of the children has kids of their own,” says Stornello. “It has to be comfortable for the clients but also work when the whole gang is over.”


Also soaring? The number of guests the homeowners can invite to dinner. “The dining table can accommodate—with the leaf—ten seated,” says Stornello. “And there is a sofa table that actually can be pulled out and it can accommodate another six.” But it will still feel spacious. “We took this grass-cloth style wallpaper up onto the tray to enhance that sense of space and height.”

When it came to the lady of the house’s office, it was time to take a risk. “We thought that this was a place for an unexpected departure into pattern,” said Konopiots. “The oral wallpaper is great because it has some coral and a little subtle mustard and silver, so it catches the light.”

Oak Brook - Drawing and dining rooms

Left: In the luxuriously feminine office, oral wallpaper by Colefax & Fowler contrasts with a textural geometric on the Templeton lounge chairs by Michael Smith at John Rosselli, with trim by Samuel & Sons. Right: In the dining room, chairs by Ebanista are covered in Clarence House fabric from Holly Hunt. Thibaut sisal covers the walls.


It was a tough decision for the client. “We had a moment where she got cold feet again,” says Stornello. “We said, ‘You really, really have to trust us on this,’” Konopiots adds with a chuckle. “And then, of course, she loved it.”

The clients took another leap of faith in the bedroom. “Believe it or not, it was a bed that we found at retail, and we had a slipcover made with a Clarence House fabric,” said Stornello.

Oak Brook - Master bedroom

In the master bedroom, the headboard is upholstered in Clarence House, the pillow fabric is by Jim Thompson, and the curtains are Rose Tarlow, all from Holly Hunt. A bench from deAurora anchors the foot of the bed, covered in a rich velvet from Kravet. The room is tied together by a woven rug from Stark Carpet. At right, a chaise longue covered in Great Plains fabric from Holly Hunt provides a cozy spot to read or watch television. The custom built in cabinets are by New Style.


“The fabric is still Clarence House, so it’s somewhat budget friendly, but not inexpensive,” Konopiots elaborates. “And then the Rose Tarlow printed linen for the curtains. Those two were the things that really sort of pair beautifully together and set the tone for the room.”

Team Vincere also takes pride in decisions that added richness without drawing attention to themselves. “Sometimes builders do the minimum wall thickness, and those windows are always so difficult to treat,” says Konopiots. They recommended more substantial walls for the Oak Park home to allow for deep-set windows and richer treatments. “Details that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to point out are part of what draws you in and makes you feel good,” he adds.

But after tackling a restrained color scheme, Konopiots and Stornello seem excited for upcoming changes of pace, including a home in Lake View—which Stornello describes as having “lots of beautiful rich, deep, saturated, warm, inviting color throughout”—and a vibrant, office for a media executive Konopiots describes as seeking “a camera-ready background for her many, many online meetings.”