Four years in the making by Magellan Development Group, The St. Regis Chicago (rebranded from Vista Tower) officially opened to residents in December 2020.
At 101 stories tall, not only is it the third-loftiest building in Chicago, but it’s also the world’s tallest building designed by a team of women architects and designers, led by architect Jeanne Gang of Chicago’s Studio Gang. As impressive as its pedigree is its faceted exterior inspired by crystals.
Inside, the design continues the gemstone theme for each of the finish packages offered in 393 residences, including 20 single-floor penthouses complementing the 191-room hotel below (opening this summer), as well as a restaurant from Alinea Group. Another residence perk: the 47th amenity floor, with a pool, spa, gym, exhibition cooking area, golf lounge, wine tasting room and more.
“With so many areas,” says Kathleen Dauber, partner with HBA Los Angeles who oversaw the design, “we selected a vocabulary for the flow and open spaces to intuitively guide the guest to each destination within the floor.”
WHO: Based in Dallas, Seattle and Los Angeles, Pulp Design Studios co-owners Beth Dotolo and Carolina V. Gentry pride themselves on creating livable interiors with a flair for the unexpected. This aesthetic translates into a unique yet approachable Instagram account that keeps followers coming back for more.
WHAT: Scroll through their feed for a smattering of completed projects, scheme photos, behind-the-scenes and installation shots. You’ll also find posts shared in support of the design community and causes most important to Dotolo and Gentry.
WHY: Pulp Design Studios wants its followers to feel inspired, not intimidated, and to realize everyone deserves a beautiful space and surroundings. Look to what they post as a guide for going bold with your interiors and making your home a reflection of you.
IN THEIR WORDS: “Our feed is really a documentation of what we’re working on and telling our brand story. It’s important to inspire and communicate the problems we’ve solved for our clients, authentically. If we aren’t communicating our vision, value or trust, then it’s not Insta-worthy.”
“The husband has a ladder, which he used to get a better view of the property. Atop it, he saw the perfect grade for a new home, one he thought would establish an axial view of Mount Saint Helena,” recalls architect Timothy C. Chappelle. “And he was right!” Chappelle’s reverence for the setting inspired him to propose a family compound honoring the Napa agricultural vernacular without being gimmicky. “They wanted to be good neighbors, and this is quiet architecture that celebrates simple gable forms,” he says.
Working with project manager Casey Cramer and general contractors John Rechin and Mark Rechin, Chappelle developed a two-story main house clad in knotty Western red cedar and a separate stone guesthouse with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a sitting area. “It’s not one big box; it’s modular and agrarian,” he explains, noting his penchant for what he calls “skinny houses,” one-room deep spaces that capture daylight and provide ample cross ventilation. “This house is a gathering point, so it’s designed for flexibility and privacy,” he continues. “The great room is like a mini hotel lobby, and the guest rooms feel like a resort. There are fun things, too, like the bunk room.”
“They wanted to create an unpretentious estate for weekend retreats,” adds Ash, who, like Chappelle, sought to capture the essence of Napa Valley style in a fresh way. “We wanted the house to be casual, but not too rustic or expected,” she explains, noting that the home possesses an almost Hamptons-like spirit, a nod to where the couple first met in New York. The designer began with the color palette, pulling blues, greens, and natural wood tones directly from the landscape, intentionally keeping the primary spaces tranquil to not distract from the view. (Although she did play with bolder colors and patterns in the guest house.) But a mostly quiet color scheme didn’t stop her from finding intriguing pieces such as the antique Savonarola chair that punctuates the entryway or the rope chairs and sculptural wood tables by Caste furniture designer Ty Best in the living area. Ash says of the latter, “Those are the prize items. I knew from the beginning that I would use those tables.” Fine art adds an important layer to this home. The clients worked with art advisor Caroline Brinckerhoff to find pieces by David Hockney, Damien Hirst, James Nares and Adam Fuss. While almost all of the rooms came together smoothly and as planned, there was one last-minute request: A home office for the husband. Ever nimble, Ash quickly converted part of his closet into a workspace, adding a concealed door to the couple’s bedroom for a seemingly uninterrupted wall plane and even giving the newly created room vineyard views.
Since the home was meant as the ultimate retreat, the outdoor areas were treated as essential elements. Landscape architect Dustin Moore was hired to design a pool, lawn, vegetable garden and a gravel courtyard strung with globe lights for alfresco dining. “We approached the grounds as outdoor rooms,” says Moore of tying the garden to the architecture. “There’s a story in how you go from one space to another.” Chappelle, noting how the olive trees and grasses soften the home and help it become one with the landscape, says, “This house doesn’t stand out. It’s less about being a trophy home and more about a simple existence with family and friends—it’s the epitome of California living.”
When she met her clients–who were preparing to relocate from New Jersey to Denver with their 7-year-old son–Schumacher instinctively knew their project would be all about mixing different pieces and styles. “They are young, so it was important that the house be fresh and light and incorporate items with both a classical feel and a sense of whimsy,” she says. The homeowners had a similar flash of intuition about Schumacher: “We are a little quirky,” admits the wife. “And we were drawn to Andrea because, on the surface, her work looks fairly traditional, but look closer and there’s a wink.” But those clever moments would have to wait until the designer and her team, including project manager Troy Rivington, worked some magic on their new home–an ailing 1990s house.
Described by the wife as “an old-school Denver house with dark wood everywhere,” the initial budget didn’t match the laundry list of items required for a full transformation–“There wasn’t enough lipstick for all of that,” Schumacher laughs.
But what started as a kitchen and family room makeover quickly became a project of larger proportions. “When we saw what she was doing, we had to do the rest of the home,” says the husband who, along with his wife, signed on for a full-house remodel. “We wanted it to flow.”
And flow it does. The designer stained white-oak floors a deep espresso color and spiced up dated trim with dark gray-blue paint, tying the spaces together and establishing the backdrop. Schumacher’s team evened things out by replacing rough-textured, knockdown drywall with smooth surfaces in the living and dining rooms and grass cloth in the kitchen and family room.
The home’s youthful vibe is announced at the entry with the combination of a gold-leaf mirror, blue ceramic lamps with a midcentury vibe and wallpaper with a bronze abstract pattern. “We wanted whoever walks in to know this is the house of a young couple that likes to have fun,” says Schumacher, who punctuated the assemblage with a Balinese sculpture discovered by the owners on their travels.
Schumacher says she’s often inspired by fabric (“preferably one with three or four colors”), so she used colorful draperies with a floral, Asian feel as the driver in the living room. A pair of metal-framed Bernhardt chairs with azure velvet cushions and the gold-toned throw pillows on the sofa were a direct response to the blues and yellows that dominate, and the juxtaposition of a brass pulley light fixture on one side of the sofa and a crane lamp sporting a silk shade on the other is pure Schumacher. “I like to bring a little humor into the conversation,” says the designer, who went further for the wink by pairing a classic upholstered armchair with a side table supported by brass bird legs
A hint of pink on the curtains carries over to the dining room where the French Klismos chairs are upholstered in a similar shade, and a pink-and-green Sputnik light casts a glow on an oval wood table rimmed with bronze. From there it’s a glance away to the hammered-bronze coffee table and metal-trimmed side tables that sparkle in the family room. “I think brass and other warm-toned metals are here to stay, and they are fun, happy elements to weave throughout,” says Schumacher, who continued the shimmer in the kitchen with metal-framed barstools and a brushed-brass chandelier. Kitchen designer Kendall Lacroix selected the cabinetry in a soft gray-blue that lines the remodeled room, and the center island and leather barstool seats are matched to the darker steel-blue molding.
Fabric rules again in the master suite where Schumacher pulled colors from the vibrant draperies for the tomato-red pillows and the welt trim on the chair. The sculpted linen headboard is an elegant touch, brass lamps proved irresistible and, when the wife came home with a had-to-have Jonathan Adler floating star chandelier, no one objected.
“The designers really understood us,” enthuses the wife. “Andrea’s little jokes and quirky touches show lots of personality and are keeping with who we are.” The result is a mash-up perfectly tuned to the family.
The clients were drawn to the structure’s architecture—a contemporary riff on Colonial style—as well as its location: The grounds are lush, and the site backs up to a gorgeous, wide-open stretch of canal. But the interiors required a level of personalization that reflects the owners’ fondness for sophisticated, modern design. “We had to look at every detail of a room and enhance it,” Poggi says. He began by looking up: The interior designer removed the standard recessed lighting, remodeled the soffits for a cleaner look and selected—or designed—sculptural fixtures as statement features throughout the home.
One such piece, a cylindrical chandelier Poggi dreamed up, illuminates the lounge, a space with views of the water that would traditionally serve as the living room. “People often pass by the living room in their home,” he says, “so to really use it, you have to make it into a very cool space.” To do so here, he paired six linen swivel chairs with a circular rug and a stacked-glass table he designed. “You see the table from the entry, so I wanted a see-through scene to the water but also something sculptural,” Poggi explains. Notably, the table is 27 inches high—“the perfect height, so you don’t have to bend over to put your drink down,” the interior designer says.
That same attention to detail inspired Poggi’s thoughtful use of materials throughout the residence. Walnut paneling, used sparingly to great effect, warms the hallways that lead from the entry to the lounge and from the dining room to the living area. It also shows up as a “floating frame” around the double-sided fireplace separating the lounge and the living area. “I love the color, balance and tightness of the walnut’s grain,” Poggi says. The wood balances sleek counterpoints such as the fireplace’s new granite interior and the main level’s marble floors. A similar feel extends to the home’s exterior, where the interior designer resurfaced the pool with gray tones. “It makes the water look transparent,” he says.
Within the materials palette, Poggi had the added challenge of selecting upholstery and rugs that are non-allergenic to accommodate his clients’ sensitivities to animal-derived textiles. “Even though wool makes the most beautiful draperies, we couldn’t use it,” he points out. Instead, he chose synthetic wool—a polyester blend that mimics the look and hand of the real thing; the rugs, too, are all synthetic yet deceivingly like wool. The result is a study in neutrals and comfy furnishings, such as the living area’s off-white sofas—upholstered in a linen and low-profile chenille blend—atop a tan, gray and white rug and the master bedroom’s plush beige sectional.
The look receives an infusion of color from the owners’ collection of modern artworks, most of which are from Venezuela and curated by Poggi. Deciding where each piece would hang came effortlessly for the interior designer—a brightly hued portrait in the lounge; an iconic Robert Indiana Hope statue in the dining room—except for the grand entry, which required a custom piece. There, he commissioned a contemporary Peruvian photographer to create four panels of black-and-white images that climb the 28-foot-tall entry wall. “The work is massive,” Poggi says, “and it makes the most dramatic first impression.”
But the point here isn’t creating drama or a showpiece, the interior designer adds. Rather, the house exists to enrich the daily life of the owners. “When a home is contemporary, you need to be careful not to make it untouchable,” Poggi says. “I would call this soft contemporary; it’s not edgy. To me, it feels like the right reflection of the people who live here.”
Heath Ceramics studio director Tung Chiang spent three months hunkered down at his home, exploring various design ideas and glazes for the company’s latest biannual seasonal collection, collaborating with co-owner and creative director Catherine Bailey and his studio team via videoconference. The 2020 Winter Seasonal Collection, which Tung coined “Seasons of Hope,” conveys strength and simplicity. The collection’s beautifully crafted pieces—a bud vase, sprout vase, teapot and cups, plaza tray, butter dish and small pitcher—each sport a gradient glaze. “Working as a creative in this tough time strangely helped me focus,” Chiang says. “Isolation translated to concentration. The quiet gave me the chance to explore the meaning of design. Ultimately, this collection is about inspiring hope and love.”
However, the existing residence by the architecture firm Ruscitto Latham Blanton and built by general contractor Magleby Construction-Sun Valley had hewed closer to the more traditional vibes of mountain living, with an emphasis on darker, more rustic detailing. “This makes a lot of the homes of Sun Valley inwardly focused,” Mauney says. “We really wanted to reverse that philosophy with a quieter interior palette so that the focus became what’s outside.”
Customization proved the key to lifting the overall mood of the space. The designers teamed with the general contractor that had originally built the home, working closely with project manager Chris Hoy. In place of darker, heavier finishes, selections like white-oak flooring and a subdued gray wash applied to the ceiling beams serve to soften the interior’s tones. More personalized details brought a welcome sense of delicacy, like the custom pewter range hood that lends a metallic shimmer to the open kitchen and the hand-painted tile with a pattern of pointillist circles in the powder room. “In our projects, we’re always asking what another interesting layer of material is that we could add to a space to take it up a notch,” notes Blank. “We are constantly trying to make sure we aren’t just simply checking the boxes and are considering how we can elevate a home, either through a cabinet detail or an unexpected finish material.”
The team also made subtle changes to the home’s flow, carving out gathering spaces to pivot to the outdoors. For example, Mauney suggested removing the kitchen’s upper cabinets to make room for more windows. “We knew just on the other side of the wall that there was the hillside,” she notes. The change makes the whole space feel more open and lets light filter around the main living areas. In the great room, they replaced sliding glass doors with windows and installed a banquette below to form a casual dining area. Moving this central communal spot next to the view “helps the space breathe a little more,” says Blank, adding, “We wanted it to feel open and not like we just have rows and rows of furniture legs. Billy Baldwin used to say a room with too many naked chair legs felt restless.”
For the furnishings, the designers looked to a middle ground, aesthetically speaking. “We had clients who leaned more on the traditional side of their personal taste, so they didn’t want a modern mountain home,” notes Blank. Consequently, “we pulled together pieces that felt more transitional. We skirted the living room furniture for a more traditional approach, selected transitional silhouettes and applied unique materials like leather or nubby textures to call back to our mountain surroundings.” Sprinkled in here and there are more rustic elements such as stone and iron that balance out the soft furnishings and light hues: a mix of grays, blues and wintry whites.
Of course, this is a house in the mountains for an active family, so, in deference to that lifestyle, the designers opted for performance fabrics. The choice means that form—and the airiness Mauney and Blank were after—isn’t subservient to function. Case in point: a white sofa in a mountain living room might seem an unusual choice, but tough textiles make it feasible. “It’s been a game-changer,” says Mauney of the new variety of sturdy materials. Besides standing up to normal day-to-day wear and tear, she notes, “In these homes that can get covered in dust, snow and mud, it’s so lovely to be able to offer your clients a lighter palette.”
With its outward orientation, ethereal palette and deceptively tough flourishes, the home speaks to a new way of living in the mountains. “We didn’t want it to feel like these rooms everyone had 20 years ago, where you were not allowed to go in and enjoy,” says Blank. “We wanted it to really speak to having a beautiful space while still feeling you can take care of it.”
Interior designer Erika Blank and designer Kimberly Mauney took a fresh approach to the interiors of this Sun Valley home. In the entry, they balanced the cool, watery hues of the James Cook painting with a custom wood-and-leather console by Sun Valley Woodworks topped with a pair of Currey & Company lamps.
Architect William Duff joined the couple for many backyard discussions, trying to figure out if it was possible to do their future life justice by merely reconfiguring their longtime home, which he describes as an “unremarkable” 1950s tract house. “Taking into consideration their wish list, we decided it would be best not to ‘Frankenstein’ the home by simply grafting new stuff onto it,” says Duff. All agreed it was better to tear down the old home and start from scratch.
Of the designs for the new house drafted by Duff and his team, architects Jim Westover and Michelle Liu, it was a three-level dwelling with a distinctive butterfly roof–a Le Corbusier hallmark of postwar American residential architecture–that resonated most with the homeowners. “That asymmetrical wing span is a very compelling way to give the home distinction, expression and energy,” says Duff.
But the design’s sentimental high note is the courtyard–an exalted version of the one found in the wife’s ancestral home in India, which also featured a solitary tree. “We both have immigrant backgrounds–my husband was born and raised in Ireland–and we wanted our home to integrate elements from our cultural heritages,” says the wife.
When the accordion glass walls enclosing the rooms flanking the central outdoor space–living room on one side, family room on the other–are folded away, the area becomes the heart of the home. “The landscape was designed to create a seamless transition from the indoors to the outdoor living spaces,” says landscape architect Richard Radford. “We blurred the lines between the two, and expanded the home’s living area into the garden environment.” On sunshine-drenched days, the family–who, by the time the house was completed, had added two children–moves effortlessly through this indoor-outdoor expanse, with ipe decking that’s nearly flush with the white-oak planks inside to make a smooth surface for tricycle wheels and small bare feet. At dusk, this area is particularly magical, thanks to Duff’s minimalist approach to illumination. A few strategically placed up-lights and recessed lighting are designed to let the pretty twilight take precedence over high wattage man-made lights. “I didn’t want anything distracting you from feeling the openness and cleanliness of the space,” says the architect.
When it came to the interiors, designer Robbie McMillan took a “less-is-more” strategy. “That meant incorporating fewer pieces of furniture, which are larger in scale, to anchor the rooms, as well as working with a range of textures and materials to provide an organic warmth and softness to each space,” he says. The concept is illustrated in the family room, where a low-backed sectional with strong lines and a chunky-wood coffee table are able to hold their own in the high-ceilinged space. “The rooms demand furniture groupings with clean lines and a sense of weight and volume to define themselves,” McMillan says. The designer opted for low seating to accommodate clear views to the backyard.
Dinner parties usually start in the living room, next to the fireplace that’s clad in lava stone slabs that jut out at different lengths and angles, both for textural interest (a counterpoint to the smooth floors and low, sleek profiles of the furniture) and visual drama (the shadows created when light washes on the surface of the hearth give the room’s otherwise quiet demeanor more expression). Since the formal dining room is adjacent, it’s just a few steps to the table, where guests have the choice of enjoying two compelling perspectives: Facing the naturalistic landscape of the drought-tolerant plantings by Radford or the modernist glass-and-metal staircase. “The staircase is a very sculptural–and at times kinetic–element that connects the spaces in the house,” says Duff. “You really see the stairs come to life when people are moving up and down them. You get a very pleasant, homey feeling when you see the house in motion, so to speak.”
It’s an easy thing to witness here, given the relaxed flow from one area to another. While natural materials take the edge off this modern floor plan, it’s the movement within the home that gives it true warmth. As the wife puts it, “Living out the story we imagined for our family and our life has been the home’s greatest gift to us.”
Icelandic-born, New York-based designer Hlynur Atlason has teamed up with Design Within Reach on two new seating solutions: the sleek, low-profile Rísa Recliner (above) and the sculptural, oval-shaped Lína Sofa (below). Atlason shared with Luxe the inspiration behind his designs.
What was your approach for the Rísa? The recliner archetype is quite dated, bulky and lacking in refinement, so I started by stripping away some of the unnecessary visual clutter while rethinking the overall construction. The silhouette is inspired by the floating upholstery that makes up the legs and armrests. I find the chair most interesting in full recline and seen from the side view where it starts to look like a modern chaise lounge.
How do you imagine people will use the Lína sofa? It can be dressed up or down, depending on the chosen upholstery, and given the context and desired impression. It’s a more refined, sculpted piece where the back is as interesting as the front.
You have an eclectic portfolio, from furniture to toothbrushes. How do you choose your commissions? I’ve always believed that a designer should be able to design (almost) anything. Those I admire from the past had a similar broad scope. Learning about people, solving problems and creating moments of joy through design is super exciting.
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.”