Setting the Tone

June 2024 View more

One couple’s eclectic art collection inspires a colorful makeover

The Elmhurst home's living room

When it comes to buying artwork, Elmhurst resident Elizabeth Jaworek learned her approach from her husband, John. “He has always just purchased what he likes,” Elizabeth says. “And when I was starting to look at art, he always said, ‘If you like it, you should get it and just figure out how to make it work.’ ”

He has collected still-life and photorealism paintings from studios in Chicago and New York; she’s drawn to pop art, street art, and prints found at festivals and estate sales. After moving into their current house in Elmhurst with their four children, however, Elizabeth was struggling to feel at home in their space: “It was a hodgepodge.” Along with their eclectic art collection, they had a mix of furniture from previous homes and new purchases that didn’t feel quite right in their space. “We repainted in a very neutral beige and thought we really wanted to have a neutral palette, but the more and more time we spent in the home, I was like, ‘This just really doesn’t reflect who we are,’ ” she says. A self-proclaimed maximalist who isn’t afraid of color, she knew she needed professional help to breathe some life into the space and pull everything together.

She scheduled some consultations with west suburban interior designers but kept coming back to one Milwaukee-based designer she followed on Instagram: Sarah Boardman of SB Design & Showroom. “I just loved her mix-and-match play of patterns and color,” Elizabeth says. As it turns out, Boardman started her interior design business in 1996 in Chicago and still sees clients all over the Chicago area, so she was more than happy to commute to Elmhurst.

Together, they reimagined the Jaworeks’ living room and dining room with a bright and splashy interplay of color that manages to make all of their artwork feel like it belongs right where it is. Boardman made the most of their renovation budget by reupholstering and repainting furniture they already had, giving it a new look with durable fabrics that could withstand the constant parade of friends and family hanging out in their house. “I think it’s nice that they are living, breathing, functional rooms and they happen to be really pretty,” Elizabeth says.

The Elmhurst home's living room

1. (top) and 2. (above) Located right inside the front entry, the Jaworeks’ redecorated living room has become a gathering space. Designer Sarah Boardman sourced a new turquoise desk and black floor lamp by Safevieh, coffee table by Four Hands, table lamp by Arteriors, and custom-made pillows and window treatments. The blue glass chandelier is from Yii Lighting. She made use of the homeowners’ existing cream couch from Crate & Barrel and two chairs from Arhaus, one in off-white bouclé and another she had reupholstered in a graphic green print.


The living room couch in the Elmhurst home

3. The eye-catching purple sofa is a secondhand find that Elizabeth Jaworek had in her home office. “We were not even considering this [sofa] for the room, but when Sarah took a tour of our house, she kept coming back to it,” Jaworek says. Originally beige, Boardman had it reupholstered in this pastel performance fabric by Kravet. “She took into consideration that we have a dog and four children, and nothing in here can be precious,” she says. “The durability of this upholstery is amazing. I have wiped off dog paw prints, Kool-Aid, grime, you name it, like 200 times already—and I am not exaggerating.”


Botanical fabric detail on a winged chair

4. The green botanical fabric that Boardman used for accent pillows was an early favorite of Elizabeth Jaworek’s. “We have plenty of house plants, so when Sarah did her initial walk-through, she recognized that I love green, and we love the outdoors. When she showed it to me, I instantly loved it,” Jaworek says. The fabric’s rub count wasn’t high enough to use on seating, but it worked well for pillows and the backs of the dining room chairs.


The Elmhurst home's dining room

5. In the dining room, Boardman’s challenge was to incorporate a large painting from John Jaworek’s collection as well as some big pieces—a dining set and rug—that the homeowners didn’t necessarily love but were expensive buys that they couldn’t justify replacing yet. She made the dining set work by repainting the chairs in Benjamin Moore Summer Nights and reupholstering two wingback chairs previously used in their family room.


Detail of the dining room’s ceiling

6. The dining room’s ceiling has become a focal point thanks to this brass chandelier from Currey and Company and pomegranate print wallpaper by Osborne and Little. The green grasscloth wallpaper is by Schumacher, and the trim color is Benjamin Moore Santa Monica Blue.


New photo frames for the Elmhurst home's artwork

7. One of Elizabeth Jaworek’s favorite parts of the renovation is the new photo frames that Boardman sourced from Creative Enterprises in Milwaukee. The color combinations complement Orlando, Florida–based artist Ralph Rankin’s surrealist digital illustration featuring Chicago skyscrapers as well as London-based Marie-Noelle Erasmus’s drawing Nutella on Toast.

Reveling in Rugs

Detail of the rug

Interior designer Sarah Boardman loves to wallpaper a ceiling or paint crown molding a bold color, but she advises clients to never forget what’s underneath their feet. “I like to use the ceiling as my fifth wall, but the floor is the sixth wall, and you really need to think about what everything is going to sit on,” she says. “It’s important. I am a giant rug fan.”

Boardman relies on floor coverings to add flair and function. “When you have gorgeous wood floors, you don’t want to take away from that, but if you have an open floor plan house, there’s not a delineated space, and the rug, it becomes the anchor,” she says. “And every single hallway in my own house has a runner because when you’re going from the bedroom to the bathroom, it’s nice not to have the cold floor on your feet in the middle of the night.”

For the Jaworek family project in Elmhurst, Boardman sourced an Oushak-inspired rug in a pastel motif from a rug maker in India. “It’s 100-percent wool, and I want to say it was under $3,000,” she says. “For an heirloom piece, spend the money on wool because you can clean it, and it’s going to last.” However, she adds, there’s also no shame in hitting up for a stylish $500 option if that’s what fits your budget.


Photos: Jonathan Gotangco Photography