A new development in Chicago’s Lakeshore East incorporates the concept of biophilia, or the human desire to live among nature, through a verdant indoor amenity. The Conservatory, a shared space connecting the 350-unit condo tower Cirrus and the 503-unit apartment building Cascade, is filled with flora and fauna and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Cascade Park.
Abundant natural light, lush plants (think fiddle leaf figs and bamboo), wood-block flooring and polished stone allow residents to enjoy natural surroundings no matter the weather. “Over the past year, we have been reminded of the importance of being connected to the outdoors,” says Linda Kozloski, creative design director with Lendlease, a developer on the project. “This renewed interest in the natural world, including its role in supporting our physical and mental well-being, has made biophilic design a guiding principle in new residential communities.”
The couple jumped at the offer. Avid entertainers, the Rollos had always been intrigued by the home’s functionality: The living area, kitchen, entry and patio combined into one open layout ideal for mingling. The stone floors, brick walls, and black doors and windows created a vibe rooted in masculinity that appealed to them. But the couple also wanted to add drama and depth. So they turned to designer Jill Mitchell to do just that.
Originally designed by local architect Tor Stuart, the sprawling residence is perched atop a mountain on 10 acres of unspoiled wilderness. Floor-to-ceiling windows and wall-to-wall retractable doors evoke a floating sensation. “It’s a modern beauty,” says Mitchell, who used the indoor/outdoor architecture as the jumping-off point for Ian and Pedro’s request for a luxurious but livable design that functioned for both everyday life and entertaining.
A minimalist approach became Mitchell’s guiding mantra. “No matter what, we had to preserve the view,” she says. “By going minimal, we could effectively furnish the space while directing the eye outdoors.” In the living area, this meant two oversize, clean-lined custom sofas for ample seating; one of them backless to maintain the sightline outdoors. Clear glass lamps offer ambient light and visual read-through to both the mountain views as well as the landscaping by Chad Norris. “The sun paints incredible colors across the sky at dusk,” says Ian. “Maintaining unobstructed views allows that sunset to be experienced anywhere.”
To add depth and drama, Mitchell painted the walls white to contrast the dark stone and brick. And, because minimalist should never translate to cold, she counteracted the 15-foot ceilings by adding pieces with visual heft, such as the extra-large coffee table that anchors the living area. “Oversize pieces keep the space from feeling cavernous,” she says. Mitchell then utilized metallic accents to emphasize the stone’s warm golden tones. Bold textiles and materials—velvets, shagreen, burnished brass—as well as abstract patterns surprise against the furnishing’s clean lines. “I love mixing the old and the new, combining textiles, adding metals,” says Mitchell. “Each layer ensures that a space looks curated over time.”
It is a lesson in understated luxury, but Mitchell couldn’t forget the other half of the couple’s request: livability. Every piece Mitchell chose is anything but precious. “No one wants to live in a museum,” remarks Pedro. Performance fabrics on the seating defend against red wine spills and muddy paws from the Rollos’ four pooches—Walker, Winston, Watson and Sammy. Dark wool rugs add warmth to stone floors while combating heavy foot traffic.
The main floor is not the only space that’s meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. A downstairs guest suite, complete with its own living room and kitchenette, is more than just a place for guests to retire to—it’s also an additional entertainment area that nods to Pedro’s affinity for modern Italian furniture. A peacock-blue sofa and chaise pair with a cognac leather ottoman to break the neutral color scheme. Nearby, a shuffleboard begs for competition.
For all the carefully curated furnishings, perhaps the main bedroom is what hosts the pièce de résistance: a Poltrona Frau Volare canopy bed by Italian designer Roberto Lazzeroni. Pedro has pined for it since youth. “I’ve loved it forever, and I finally found its home,” says Pedro. “Being that it’s both framed and open, it reflects the bedroom’s indoor/outdoor vibe perfectly.”
That bedroom, like every space on the main floor looks out on the covered patio—the couple’s favorite space. Here, sheltered in the privacy of the canyon walls, Pedro and Ian dine alfresco, relax on the swings and swim in the infinity pool. The house is exactly what they thought it could be. Says Ian, “It’s our own little resort.”
Offering the sort of secluded luxury that has attracted the likes of the Roosevelts, the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts, Castle Hot Springs checks all the boxes for a healthful, socially distanced getaway. The historic resort was fully renovated in 2019 and features 30 standalone accommodations as well as three pools of thermal spring water and a 1-acre farm. The design of each cabin celebrates the resort’s unique setting amid the Bradshaw Mountains. Sky View Cabins, for example, feature a raised deck outfitted with a telescope for stargazing. Spring Bungalows nod to the stunning setting with indoor-outdoor bath areas, and the Historic Cottage complements its trio of bedrooms with a stone fireplace and a covered deck where you can unplug and take in the view. The resort welcomes guests ages 16 and older with included meals and wellness-inspired amenities, all just 50 miles outside of Phoenix. castlehotsprings.com
The couple envisioned a modern take on a Spanish-style ranch, “which fit that site,” says Smokowski, pointing to the surrounding desert landscape and Santa Rosa Mountains beyond. “It was essential to have something that felt intrinsic to the landscape.” To satisfy both the family’s wishes and community design guidelines, Schaffner, working with colleagues Michael Boyd and Dale Patton, employed traditional elements such as plasterwork, pillow-cut limestone and reclaimed brick for the parapet trim. He then laced black steel details throughout, such as the floor-to-ceiling windows, and incorporated decorative steel I-beams softened with warm wood inserts. The I-beams, installed under the direction of general contractor Bill Leddy of Sun Vista Construction, were a “trust me” moment with his mother, Schaffner recalls. “But I knew we needed that contemporary detail to come through, to show that this is a new home.” Once the wood insert was in place, “it so perfectly blended in,” says Smokowski. “It gives that hint of a modern, forward- thinking perspective.”
Punctuated by two enclosed courtyards, Schaffner’s open-plan layout invites discovery. “As you walk around the entire home, you have views from both sides,” says Smokowski. “There is this constant unrolling of surprises.” The wonders begin outdoors at the massive custom gate. There glimpses of the front courtyard, planted with palms and bougainvillea (a collaboration between Smokowski and landscape designer Gustavo Magaña of GM Future Designs) are visible through square cutouts. “They make you want to see what’s on the other side,” says Schaffner. “We wanted to create visual interest that keeps you moving to the next space.”
Many of the entertainment areas also radiate from this sun-kissed core, including the dining room, which opens wide to uninterrupted vistas of the Chocolate Mountains.
Other social spots such as the kitchen, media room and wine bar flow together. Private spaces flank the rear courtyard, where the master bedroom suite overlooks a reflecting pool, which features a commissioned sculpture by artist America Martin.
When composing these interiors, “I like to keep it simple,” explains Smokowski. “Because I think the interior designer’s true job is to create a canvas, so you can fill it with things you love, things that matter.” Colors remain neutral to showcase the family’s vibrant artworks and sentimental pieces, like the lamps made from antique concrete wallpaper rolls by Smokowski’s maternal grandmother. For furnishings, she also favored pared-down yet easy silhouettes in lush fabrics and finishes, from the cashmere B&B Italia sofas in the living room and a family room to the richly stained dining table by Flexform. “Her approach to design is always about making everything feel comfortable,” notes Schaffner. “She would never choose a cold piece just for appearances.”
A vein of familial warmth indeed runs throughout the project, forged through sunny days on the construction site and late-night text exchanges, swapping sketches and ideas. This spirit is perhaps best captured by Schaffner’s unexpected detail for his mother—an exterior fireplace at the entrance. “We were finalizing the massing,” says Schaffner, who turned 29 this year, as the project was wrapping up. “We thought a chimney would evoke that Spanish Revival look and create a warm welcome for people entering the home.” The surprise worked perfectly. “We light it when we’re home, to let people know they can come by,” says Smokowski. “And I think everybody who comes here enjoys our space. I hope they see the passion and the beauty of a family who knew what they wanted and was actually able to bring it to life.”
The Victorian Big Battery based in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, will have a capacity of 450 megawatt-hours and will play an important role in Australia’s transition from coal-fired electricity generation to renewables. The new facility will store roughly enough energy to power 500,000 homes for an hour. It will also be used to modernise and stabilise the energy grid in Victoria, where the government has set a policy objective of delivering half of the state’s energy requirement via renewables by 2030.
When the timing was finally right, the couple commissioned interior designer Ivette Arango and architect Antonio E. Rodriguez to realize their vision. The result is a one-level contemporary stucco home with oversize doors and windows that frame views of the lush grounds and innovative water features, giving the home the effect of a peaceful island escape.
At the front of the residence, a keystone walkway leads across a serene pool to the entry door, which is protected by an overhang with an ipe wood ceiling. Cantilevered over the water, the house appears to be floating; even its rooflines seem to hover over one another, creating the feeling of several cabanas grouped together, as though it is a resort. “The property is like an oasis,” Rodriguez says. “Although it’s modern with lots of glass, it’s still a cozy house with a really nice tropical feel.”
The foyer opens to the double-height formal living area, where a fire box accented with a heavily textured porcelain complements the home’s large-scale porcelain tile flooring. Maintaining the focus on the lush backyard, Arango kept the home’s walls white and covered the tailored furnishings in a soothing palette of neutral-colored fabrics. “Everything relates, and it feels good when you walk in,” she says. “Nothing jumps out at you.”
In this way, the design honors the clean-lined interior architecture, which features recessed baseboards and open corridors unobstructed by headers. The lighting is equally subtle–and just as important, especially for highlighting the owners’ art collection displayed throughout the residence. “Lighting creates a background,” Arango explains. “It gives the room the mood you want, and it enhances the art and furniture.” The living area’s domed ceiling is back lit, with a merger track system that allows for spotlights to be added to highlight particular artworks and walls. “We like to do a lot of special details with our ceilings, because this is the fifth wall in the room,” says general contractor Ken Gomberg. In the family room, a wood veneer-paneled ceiling that cascades down one wall is illuminated from behind. And also lit from the back, the onyx backsplash of the space’s wet bar appears to glow.
While the new construction fulfills the clients’ desires for different gathering areas, the private spaces have not been overlooked. In the master bedroom, for instance, Arango upholstered the wall behind the bed in fabric and housed the TV within sycamore wood wall panels, creating an enveloping feeling. “This room embraces you,” she says.
Like all the prominent spaces, the master bedroom opens to the backyard, where landscape designer Jesse Plasencia incorporated celestial palms, large oaks to fill in the existing canopy and black ironwoods around the perimeter, blocking views of the neighbors. “It’s completely private and has a resort-like feel,” Plasencia says. “It’s tranquil.”
Adding to that feeling are the property’s many covered patios, which include spaces for exterior living and dining. Detached structures flank the swimming pool behind the home–a guest cabana with its own poolside patio, and a covered seating area in front of a fire pit. “I’m very earthy, and I like the stone, fire and water concept,” the wife says.
Just as the owners envisioned, their new home provides something for everyone, including plenty of room for their children’s friends. And despite its contemporary look, the residence is far from cold, offering a feeling of tranquility without fail. “Even when we come home from vacation, we have that ‘ah’ moment,” the wife says. “It’s such a wonderful space.”
When a Chicago couple with three children decided they wanted a lifestyle change, it set them on an adventure that landed them more than 1,000 miles away in the house of their dreams. “We realized we could live anywhere, as long as it was near an airport,” remembers the husband. “So, we started thinking about where that place would be.” Although they spent hours considering the ideal location, they kept coming back to Colorado, given the happy childhood memories the husband had of camping and skiing with his family in Steamboat Springs. As they researched the perfect town, all signs seemed to point to Boulder, Colorado. “It has everything we want—including access to nature and better weather,” the husband notes.
With their location determined, they set out to build their dream house. “We found a lot in an awesome neighborhood that offers both nature and a great community,” says the husband. “We wanted our kids to spend a ton of time outside, and this neighborhood has great access to trails.”
The next part of the adventure involved building a structure that made the most of the site while allowing the homeowners to live the family life they envisioned. Since they would be managing the project remotely, working with a team they could trust was key. “They were only on the job site a handful of times, and the trust they put in us was extraordinary,” says general contractor Tom Stanko. “Every person there knew the family had a lot of faith in us, and we did our best to give them the house they wanted.”
What that looked like was hard to categorize. The homeowners came to architects Dale Hubbard and Kim Cattau and residential designer Anna Slowey with the idea of a modern farmhouse. “The thing about that term is that it has been used so often, it can mean just about anything,” says Hubbard. “But after talking with the clients, we realized that what they wanted was a family compound on their land—something with deconstructed massing, like a group of buildings you’d find on a traditional farm. We also realized that they wanted ornament that was deliberate, utilitarian and almost industrial in feel.” Slowey notes that the choice of color palette and crisp details advance the concept of a modern farmhouse. “Everything is crisp and beautifully articulated,” she says. “We took the traditional idea of a black and white color palette and modified it a bit, nothing here is a true black—the dark color comes from blackened steel. It gives the house a clean, modern feel.”
The house became a U-shaped structure that, at first glance, resembles a cluster of buildings. In this configuration, one wing is for the bedrooms, the other is a guest suite and in between—or the bottom part of the U—is the public space comprising the entry and a combined great room, kitchen and dining room.
One of the forces that propelled this family from the Midwest to the mountains was a desire for their kids to live outside. With that in mind, Cattau says that the architects designed the house from the “inside out,” making access to the yard and the open spaces beyond priority. “We worked to make the volumes inside feel good, they are comfortable and flow together—it’s an easy space to be in,” she says. “But we also worked to make sure that all those rooms have access or sight lines to the yard and the hills.” In practice, this means that someone could get up from the kitchen table and walk unimpeded through the large sliding doors and into the pool, if they are so inclined. The same goes for the ground-level master suite.
The outdoor space, executed in concert with landscape architect Luke Sanzone, looks like a residential version of a mountain resort. After all, it contains the aforementioned pool, an in-ground spa, a generous lawn and a large fire pit all set against the backdrop of rolling mountains. But this is sophistication for all ages; the boulders surrounding the pool are set in a way that allows kids to climb and, most importantly, leap into the pool. “The home is designed with a series of little landing spots and places to retreat,” says Slowey. “The landscape is no different, it has very intentional destinations to gather. The whole backyard has a very fun feeling.”
It’s a feeling that flows upstairs to the kids’ rooms, which were crafted not only for rest, but for sleepovers with cousins who visit frequently. “We worked in collaboration with designer Megan Hudacky on all the rooms, and we wanted to make the boys’ room feel a bit like a sleepaway camp,” says Slowey. Adds Hubbard, “you could look at the entire project as a sanctuary.”
And after the stress of relocating, a sanctuary was what was called for. “To pack up and move like that was scary,” says the husband. “But it was so much fun to have the vision, and then execute it. Today we walk around in the house we dreamed about, and watch our kids enjoy it as we hoped.” This is one leap of faith that had a happy landing.
In the shadow of Sedona’s red rock formations, The Retreat at Miraval Arizona is a new way to experience a luxurious getaway to refresh both the body and soul.
The resort’s 22 modular, elegant villas and suites with up to three bedrooms combine privacy and community with separate entrances, private pools or spas, indoor-to-outdoor showers and spectacular views. The barrier to nature dissolves via the custom designed, fully retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors, making the splendor of the Sonoran Desert part of your own personal living space.
Exclusive experiences at The Retreat include Life in Balance Spa wellness services, community art projects and private, in-suite culinary experiences. Continue the serenity you find at The Retreat and bring home items from the exclusive Miraval collection, including bedding, robes, candles and crystals.
Betsy Nathan has always been a collector. The daughter of a renowned Chicago gallerist, she grew up surrounded by an eclectic mix of fine and folk art and objects curated from around the world. After a stint in Beijing in the 1990s, where she studied Chinese craftsmanship, she returned to Chicago to open her first showroom, Pagoda Red, in 1997. Last year she moved into a vastly larger warehouse space in Bucktown, where her entire 4,000-piece collection of global fine arts and antiques is now available for designers and the public alike to browse. While there are many treasures to be discovered at Pagoda Red, we called on Nathan to share a few of her other favorite spots for sourcing goods around the city.
ROBIN RICHMAN BUCKTOWN
“Robin is amazing at creating interesting juxtapositions between clothes, jewelry and accessories. I go here to buy Mad et Len Lava Rocks, which are infused with perfume. They release an earthy spirit when you burn them, and I like to use them in the powder room.”
LE LABO WICKER PARK
“In China, I had an otherworldly experience when a friend introduced me to traditional incense–the kind that oozes from trees. It’s impossible to find locally, but it turned me on to rich, gentle, moody fragrances and beautiful incense burners to disperse them. I recently purchased Le Labo‘s amulet (a portable diffuser) as a gift for a friend. It becomes very personal when you infuse the stone within with a hand-blended fragrance specially made for the person you are giving it to.”
ASRAI GARDEN WICKER PARK
“Pagoda Red and Asrai Gardenopened around the same time. We grew up together, so the designers understand our objects and containers. They know how to marry nature’s shapes and colors in fresh, modern ways. They use flowers and greens to frame, rather than overpower, a select object.”
INTERIOR DEFINE LINCOLN PARK
“If you don’t want to wait months for a sofa, Interior Define is a great choice. They feel custom, the process is easy and the price can’t be beat. I’m working with a client now who wants her place finished fast, so we just ordered the Sloan Sectional in a plush onyx fabric.”
PHOTOS: ROBIN RICHMAN, ROBIN RICHMAN; LE LABO, COURTESY LE LABO; ASRAI GARDEN, LUCY HEWETT; INTERIOR DEFINE, CAROLINA MARIANA RODRIGUEZ.