Divide and Conquer

December 2019 View more

The leather upholstery on Crate & Barrel’s Declan recliner ($2,300) is a durable option for the couple’s active family: two dogs, two cats, and two daughters, Anna, 15, and Maya, 10. “I like having round coffee tables in seating areas,” says Chad, “so you don’t bump your shins on the corners of the table.” The brass bases on the Elke round marble coffee table ($1,000) and end table ($600) from Crate & Barrel conform to the main metal finish in the kitchen, offering design continuity. The chaise on the Barrett reversible sectional ($2,000) from Crate & Barrel can easily be modified. “You can move the base and move the cushion to the left or the right,” says Shannon. “It’s a really comfortable, handy piece.”

When Downers Grove native Ed and his wife, Shannon, thought their 15-year-old home could use an update, they consulted designer Chad Esslinger. “It felt dated,” admitted Esslinger, “and they couldn’t figure out where to put the furniture.” 

The great room challenge? There are multiple focal points. “It’s such a big room,” explains Shannon, “but with a few different uses it’s hard to construct a layout that feels just right.” Esslinger suggested multiple configurations for the family room, and then chose furniture from there. And with a few cosmetic touches to the kitchen, the entire main level was completely transformed.

The couple didn’t want to gut their kitchen, since the layout was fine. “It was really about upgrading the fixtures,” says Chad. “Everything was dark wood trim and cherry cabinets. Nice quality stuff, but just dated looking.” The cabinets were painted, and the hardware, backsplash, trim, and lighting were all replaced by Platinum Builders. “Changing the colors completely changed the feel of the room … even though everything was still original. It felt like a completely different space, almost exactly what we wanted, from every aspect,” says Shannon.

The kitchen planning space gets used more than she anticipated, says Shannon. “The computer is in the common area, so I can keep an eye on what the kids are doing online.” It’s used for everything from paying bills and coloring to playing online games and doing homework. “It’s kind of a catchall,” says Shannon, “but in a very organized way.”

Photos by Picture Perfect House