Brazilian Roots

July 2024 View more

Turning a standard house into a custom home

The living room of the Western Springs home

Sometimes good things can come from trying to keep up with the Joneses. After purchasing a new build, these Western Springs homeowners visited a neighbor’s house and fell in love with the interior design. When they found out that La Grange designer Christie Hines had done the renovation, they knew just who to call to give their own home the finishing touches they craved.

Hines saw the new house’s potential. “It very much looked like a stock home—there wasn’t a lot of warmth,” she says. “They wanted a very custom look, something very classy that also infused the style of their home country of Brazil.”

An artist by trade—most keen on pencil drawing, abstract painting, and lithography—Hines found her way into the interior design industry after renovating her and her husband’s own homes in Chicago and La Grange. After working for designer Paula Horvath for a number of years, she started her own firm, Christie Hines Designs. For this Western Springs project, Hines warmed up the space by refinishing the dark, cool-toned floors in a lighter wood tone and peppering rich jewel tones throughout. Botanical and jungle-inspired wallpapers and potted plants nod to the homeowners’ Brazilian heritage, and new features like a hidden bar are truly one of a kind.

1. (Top) With dark floors and mostly gray tones, the original living room felt drab. “So, we added frame molding on the walls to give it some classic architectural interest that wasn’t in-your-face,” designer Christie Hines says. “We went with Benjamin Moore Simply White—a nice soft white—and we did the crown and baseboards in the same color with a satin finish.” The fireplace surround was redone with Taj Mahal quartzite from Blue Pearl Stone in La Grange, and the homeowners’ existing sofa was reupholstered, freshening it up with pillows from La Grange boutique Anecdote. New additions include a green velvet chaise from now-closed retailer Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a floor lamp and chandelier by Visual Comfort & Co., and an area rug by Loloi. For the walls, Hines chose artwork from local artist Candace McGarry. “It’s abstract, but bold and eye-catching without making it feel too busy in there, and it’s a really nice focal point for the room and it ties into the blacks used in other areas.”


The kitchen in the Western Springs home

2. For these homeowners who love to cook, the original kitchen fell short. “It was very cramped and lacking storage, and the island was too thin,” Hines says. “And there was a wall that we wanted to take out, but low and behold, we couldn’t. It was load-bearing.” Instead, they got rid of the soffits and counter-depth cabinetry on that wall and replaced them with a deeper set of custom cabinets in a contrasting shade (Caviar by Sherwin Williams). “We actually make it look like its own furniture piece, like a hutch,” she explains. “All of the hardware is unlacquered brass, so now they’re bright and shiny, but over time, it will develop a patina.” Chicago-based Mitchel and Mitchel crafted a custom range hood in saddled leather with brass trim. The countertops were sourced from Blue Pearl Stone, Pitonak Construction in Burr Ridge built all of the custom cabinetry, and the island pendant is from the Urban Electric Co. The geometric carpet runner from Rejuvenation is actually the same as Hines has in her own kitchen; the homeowners saw it there and requested it be incorporated into their design.


The kitchen in the Western Springs home

3. Hines matched the homeowners’ existing kitchen table with new chairs from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. The ceiling pendant is from Hudson Valley Lighting Group.


The dining room in the Western Springs home

4. This black paneled wall in the dining room provides the perfect canvas for large-scale work by New York–based fine-art photographer Josephine Cardin and a sconce from Visual Comfort. The table and chairs from Arhaus sit under this striking chandelier from Hudson Valley Lighting Group. “It’s very classic and modern and at the same time, a little funky and fun,” Hines says. The botanical wallpaper (Singita by Cole & Son) reminded the homeowners of their home country of Brazil, and Hines balanced the bold print with wainscoting and crown molding painted with Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green.


The secret bar in the Western Springs home

5. One of the homeowners’ favorite features is this secret bar, which was previously an unneeded hallway entrance into the dining room. “We added an antique mirror from La Grange Glass & Mirror Co. and did the same countertops and rich tobacco stain as the kitchen island and bistro shelves,” Hines says. “It’s a speakeasy vibe.”


The home office in the Western Springs home

6. Hines chose a deep shade of green (Salamander by Benjamin Moore) for this home office and added glass French doors to let light in from the foyer. A Loloi rug, CB2 desk, and print by Japanese artist Tomoya Nakano framed by House of Color in Countryside round out the room.


The powder room in the Western Springs home

7. The showstopper of this powder room is the whimsical jungle-inspired wallpaper by Cole & Son. “It has a similar vibe to the dining room,” Hines says. The vanity was custom-built to look like a standalone piece of furniture, and the light fixtures are from Rejuvenation.


Photos: A to Z Photography by Suzanne Kotel