Jessica Lagrange introduces color and whimsy in a space filled with heritage details.
This building—1500 Lakeshore—is such an iconic, classic building for Chicago,” says designer Jessica Lagrange. “I felt privileged to work there.” Lagrange says her aim was to celebrate the scale of the residence, while keeping it light and fresh for a young family with two daughters. “Traditional with a twist,” she calls the result, noting her efforts to embrace the classic elements of the building while also mixing in more contemporary pieces with clean lines.
“We loved the existing plaster floral motifs above the door,” Lagrange says of the living room. So she amplified them with a leafy Gracie wallcovering and a patterned rug in full bloom. The resulting palette of blues, pinks and tans feels sophisticated yet fresh. She even found room to incorporate a corner office area.
“The main focal point of the dining room was the hand painted chinoiserie chairs,” Lagrange explains. She purposefully chose quieter finishes for the rest of the room to allow the eye-catching elements such as the crackle lacquer on the chairs, the mirrored buffet and the rock crystal chandelier to shine.
Meanwhile in the library, Lagrange tempered the room’s masculine energy—with its imposing, wood-clad walls—by introducing color that complemented its fireplace. “We brought in tones of mauve and burgundy to play off the pinkish hues,” she notes.
Color also mixed things up in the kitchen. “A black-and-white kitchen seemed too sterile for us,” Lagrange says. Here, black and white are heightened by a soft green-blue featured on the ceiling, fabric on the roman shades and pops of blue and green in featured art and accessories.
But there’s no more colorful spot in the apartment than the younger daughter’s bedroom. Though just 13 years old at the time, she fell in love with a striped duvet that inspired the room’s color scheme—which included rich oranges and deep pinks— and asked Lagrange to think 1960s Mod. “To me, the ‘60s were something I lived through,” says Lagrange with a laugh. “But to her, it was something really cool.” The older sister’s tastes leaned less toward the funkadelic, so Lagrange gave her space a more traditional feel that still felt youthfully exuberant, noting the bright-yet-traditional toile pattern featured on the bedclothes and in the window dressings.
“I don’t have a signature style. It’s fun to reinvent the wheel every time.”
Considering the results, it’s hard to imagine Lagrange initially hesitated to work with these clients. “I’m always very reluctant to work with friends,” she explains. But she’s glad she took the risk, as she has already designed for them again. “They’ve turned out to not only still be great friends, but also amazing clients.” And there’s another set of relationships she values. “I can’t say enough about the Merchandise Mart,” Lagrange says. She regularly encourages budding designers to cultivate relationships with theMART’s showrooms. “I couldn’t do my job without all these great vendors,” she adds, “and they have my back.”