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Design Home Tour

How to Rock the Suburbs with Surprising, Edgy Style

Crystal Blackshaw transforms a house in the suburbs into a dazzling display.

Oakbrook: Stairs - Office

Left: To create a sense of color continuity, Blackshaw painted the stairway railings, spindles, and treads in black and the walls a deep, rich shade of emerald. Paint throughout by Benjamin Moore.
Right: The office, painted in a deep forest green by Benjamin Moore, is enhanced by a vivid, striped Roman Shade in fabric from Pindler.

It’s not every day that a move out to the suburbs sparks a vision of a home with a glam, rock and roll edge. But for one couple who made the shift from the heart of Chicago to suburbia before starting a family—Oak Brook, Illinois, specifically—they brought a vibrant, urban vibe with them with the help of designer Crystal Blackshaw.

“The homeowner has a certain aesthetic and style, it’s very particular,” explains Blackshaw. “It’s not traditional by any means. She’s eclectic, fashion-forward, and edgy in a Gucci kind of way.”

That characterization is immediately felt upon entering the house. Showstopping black-and-white checkered tiles, a velvet upholstered chaise, walls in a rich emerald-like hue, and high- contrast stairs add drama. And that’s not even the “wow’ moment—a direct line of vision into the living room showcases an unexpected, yet stunning graffiti mural by artist Traz Juarez, glammed up with a graphic black-and-white rug, custom sofas upholstered in a seriously decadent purple velvet from Fabricut, and complementing chairs in an elegant yet swanky cheetah print.

Oakbrook: Kitchen

The vibrant, convivial kitchen is outfitted with a Viking oven, Sub-Zero fridge, and a Bosch dishwasher for the ultimate in entertaining. A Roman shade in a carefree, striped Pindler fabric adds the perfect touch.

“She [the homeowner] grew up on the South Side of Chicago with a lot of artists that use graffiti to express themselves—it, and the words in the mural, not only mean a lot to her, but she specifically wanted to showcase the craft and talent from people in the area she grew up in,” explains Blackshaw.

In the dining room, the black-and-white theme with saturated color continues. “It didn’t get a lot of light so we went with it instead of fighting it,” says Blackshaw, of what she describes as a moody, Alice in Wonderland-type room.

Oakbrook: Bedroom

Left: To combat the homeowners’ tendency to sleep lightly, the designer painted the room in a matte black hue from Benjamin Moore and then added a cheetah print fabric from Kravet on the chairs to create a luxe, rock’n’roll vibe.
Right: A beautiful marble fireplace, colorful custom artwork by a friend of the homeowners, and a modern chair form one
of the bedroom’s charming vignettes, while a dresser (middle) and an intriguing table lamp forms another.

Walls painted in a dark navy that almost read as black are offset by pops of emerald hues and a dining table surrounded by white chairs and black header chairs that add a bit of spice. A mesmerizing, patterned rug design underfoot balances out the ceiling’s raised, textured wallpaper painted over in black. The kitchen only needed a cosmetic overlay, but the designer created a big impact with a few tweaks. Cabinets in Benjamin Moore jewel- toned paint colors, a backsplash composed of geometric black- and-white tiles with a brass inlay, and a striped Roman shade from Pindler form a striking yet inviting visual.

“It’s not traditional by any means. [The homeowner] is eclectic, fashion-forward, and edgy in a gucci kind of way.” —Crystal Blackshaw

Oakbrook: Dining

Left: A rug from Stark Carpet adds a playful element to the sensuous, tactile dining room.
Middle: In the hallway, gorgeous white wainscotting highlights the black- and-white palm leaf wallpaper.
Right: In the eat-in kitchen, vintage Butterfly chairs are upholstered in a geometric fabric from Fabricut.

While the designer espouses the power of paint, she also used graphic wallpapers to create drama. A hallway outfitted in a black-and-white palm leaf patterned wallpaper adds a graphic, and tropical, punch, while the ultra-chic, color-imbued office ceiling receives a bit of dazzle with a design that presents as black and gold marbling highlighted by Roman shades in an Hermes-like orange with a black stripe.

“Black can serve as a neutral and as a graphic element,” explains Blackshaw. “But with the addition of the saturated jewel tones, and white as a balance, there is enough negative and positive space to allow room to breathe while keeping everything on the same plane.” Rock on!

Oakbrook: Living room

The living room’s deliciously comfortable sofa—upholstered in an elegant, deep purple velvet from Fabricut—elevates the room’s design and plays well with chairs upholstered in an eye-catching Cheetah print—also from Fabricut.