Starting from scratch allowed one couple to get a customized home—and a whole new style—perfect for relaxed entertaining.
This new-build home in Lincoln Park has a consistent flow, starting at the front entry.
“Our other home is a family home that focuses on comfort and function with a chaotic feel,” says Kelli Bhojwani of the lakeside house in Minneapolis where she and husband Gary Bhojwani raised their three children and spend summers and holidays. When the couple relocated back to their hometown of Chicago, it coincided with becoming empty nesters, providing the perfect opportunity to start fresh. “I knew I wanted a city house that was elegant but still practical for when the kids come home to visit,” says Kelli.
She also knew that because of their professional and travel schedules, the move had to be as easy as possible. Opting out of extensive renovations, they chose a 6,800-square-foot new build by Middlefork Luxury Home Builders in Lincoln Park, which afforded them a turnkey experience. The couple worked directly with Andy Bowyer of Middlefork and architect Gary Beyerl of BBA Architects on the floor plan and extensive millwork. To ensure that all of the furnishings matched the quality and character of the backdrop, they enlisted interior designer Gemma Parker of Gemma Parker Design. “The townhouse pays homage to the great homes built in Chicago around the turn of the century,” Parker explains. This is evident by the stone and leaded-glass details on the exterior, while the interior architecture features a grand staircase, transom windows and intricate ceiling details. “Our goal was to make the house into a sophisticated and comfortable home,” Parker says. “We wanted it to be beautiful but not precious.”
The living room chairs are upholstered in a Holly Hunt Great Plains fabric, while lamps from Restoration Hardware flank a limestone fireplace. The coffee table is Paul Ferrante, and the artwork is a commissioned piece by Nicoletta Savod.
To accomplish the look, Parker and her team focused on scale and proportion. The Bhojwanis didn’t bring so much as a fork with them, so the design team had the benefit of starting from scratch. Most of the furniture was custom-designed to an eighth of an inch so that pathways and clearances were comfortable. Materials and the color palette were carefully chosen to create a seamless flow through the connected open space that flows from kitchen to family room to outdoor terrace. Based on Kelli’s desire for a calm, serene feel, a range of white, grays and blues carries throughout the home.
From top: The kitchen pendants are from Circa Lighting; the master suite is calming with its monochromatic palette of gray with purple undertones.
The Bhojwanis entertain a lot, so seating was also a priority. Parker carved out interior and exterior space to seat 26 people comfortably for dinner and created both casual and formal conversation areas. The kitchen was done with Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry and offers ample storage. “It is a smaller space than we are used to, but it has more storage than I can fill,” says Kelli. Built-in cabinetry in the master suite, a dressing room and a walk-in closet, as well as a library on the second floor, add to the storage capacity.
The spa-like master bathroom inspired the tranquil look of the master suite; the family room continues the palette of a neutral backdrop with blue accents.
Quality and quiet luxury are reigning themes with a cohesive flow of texture, pattern and highly selective metallic wallcoverings, but the home was designed for casual everyday living. “The clean-lined silhouettes are ideal for their informal but stylish lifestyle,” Parker says. What Kelli appreciates most is how Parker and her team filled the space. They stocked the open shelves with books that reflect the couple’s interests, and created a gallery wall with photos of the family on the second floor. “We brought nothing and moved into an empty shell, but Gemma made it feel like we had been there for a while,” says Kelli. “It really exceeded all of our expectations.”