Not even a pandemic can stop perennial favorite event Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens from happening, and its recent 2020 rendition didn’t disappoint as it showcased some of the area’s brightest talents in interior design. One space so impressed our editors, in fact, that it landed the cover of NS: the reading room designed by Stephanie Kaslow, a luscious mix of texture and pattern tied together with a bold ceiling and beams painted Sherwin-Williams Charcoal Blue. Here, Kaslow gives us the inside scoop on her process.
Interior designer Stephanie Kaslow's Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens room, which appeared on the September cover of NS. Of the space, she says, “Once a dark and rustic office, this room now offers an inviting space for relaxing near a crackling fire or enjoying conversations with an intimate group of friends." The original neoclassical fireplace remains, while the brick surround and mantle were updated with more neutral tones and a soft stone-look surface.
“Pulling a temporary room together for a showhouse takes a village… if your village consists of assistants, photographers, upholsterers, art galleries, furniture and lighting vendors, interior stylists, decorative artists, florists, PR teams, graphic designers, painters and a multitude of other people. A project of this scope is extremely fun and rewarding, but also provides a unique set of challenges. Within a short time frame and a limited budget, designers are tasked with calling in many favors," says Kaslow.
A quiet refuge toward the back of the showhouse, the wood-clad interior of this room was given new life with high-contrast paint colors, light stone surfaces and luxurioius window treatments. "Walking into the space through the bookshelf corridor," Kaslow notes, "one experiences a custom art installation that is mimicked in a custom mural on the staircase walls.”
"Most of the furniture, lighting and fabric are borrowed, rented or donated. In the photo on the cover, the vintage shearling Clam chair by Philip Arctander and the 'Whole Milk' painting by Maura Segal were generously provided on loan by the Matthew Rachman Gallery; it is one of my favorite vendors in Chicago for furniture and art, offering an extensive collection of unique and sophisticated pieces. Since the event is fully installed and then uninstalled in just six weeks, finding a wonderful photographer who will help to quickly capture your room at its best is key—there are so many nuances, including the right lighting, styling and photo quality. You really need someone who is not only technically skilled, but who also has a professional eye for composition. My photographer Ryan McDonald exceeded in both of those things and was so lovely to spend a day shooting with," the designer adds.
While the room's sculptural furnishings were upholstered in mohair and other rich, tactile textures, the light fixtures—both modern and antique—are more delicate and provided a soft glow throughout the space.
"Designer showhouses are a labor of love, and you are in constant communication with everyone to coordinate logistics. Good relationships and working with people you enjoy is essential for a project like this to come together seamlessly,” Kaslow concludes.
"The furnishings and architecture in this quaint den combine organic and structural elements, contemporary and traditional patterns, and relaxed and formal aesthetics—all enforcing the notion that the best design is unrestrictive," says Kaslow.
Furniture Matthew Rachman Gallery, South Loop Loft, Pavilion Antiques & 20th C, Jordan Mozer + Associates Ltd., 1st Dibs
Lighting TRNK, 1st Dibs
Textiles Cowtan & Tout, Oscar Isberian Rugs, Lucid Collections, Samuel & Sons
Drapery Willow Drapery & Upholstery
Painting Decorating Experts
Decorative Painting Studio Lunaris
Photography Ryan McDonald
Photography by: Ryan McDonald