Flex Plan

Redefining Rooms for a Family in the Windy City

Upon purchasing this modern house in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, the homeowners got an existing new-build with great bones and no renovation required. What it would take to accommodate their large brood, however, would be a creative adaptation of the original layout in the roughly 3,200-square-foot, free-standing house.

Up to the challenge, Devon Wegman, co-owner with her husband Michael and creative director of Chicago-based Devon Grace Interiors, describes these clients as “a young, adorable couple with five young children.” In fact, she adds: “The kids were so cute, every time we would go for a site visit or to get things installed, they would hang out with us and try to help.”#1

Kid-friendly fabrics and furnishings fill the living room of this Chicago residence. The floor plan was reimagined within the existing footprint to suit all seven family members.#2

Oversize mirrors flank the concrete-tile fireplace to visually expand the room and reflect light—one of which also reflects a porcupine quill mirror in the entryway.#3

Sliding panels conceal the television in this custom built-in. When the sliding panels are closed the emphasis is on the decor, but when the panels are open the family can watch TV with ease.

Wegman and her design team were determined to make their clients’ new digs a better fit for the whole family. “Our goal was to customize the space more for their unique needs (five kids in the city is no joke!) and make it work for their daily needs,” she says. For starters, the layout, while typical of a city home, wasn’t ideal: a living and dining area by the entry, then the kitchen, followed by a large family room. Luckily, a clever solution was in sight. “We reorganized the space so that the family room in the back could be a larger dining room with a more extended living area that can flex from formal to casual in the front,” says Wegman.

Because the home already had a lot of modern touches, they kept the new aesthetic cohesive and built upon the existing tonal palette. A fine balance of rich woods, pops of warm color, and light neutrals contrasted by black accents ties the adjoining spaces together. In the original living room, a sizable sectional and a flexible daybed are among kid-friendly pieces that create a cozy spot by the concrete-tile fireplace.

Durable material selections include black leather on the midcentury-modern daybed and forgiving fabric for the soft gray sectional. Leather and mud-cloth pillows add color and texture to the neutral sofa, while woven rope poufs offer flexibility and ease to the room. “They’re fun for the kids,” she says. “You can move them around for footrests and additional seating.”

Tall mirrors flank the fireplace. A wool rug sports a watercolor pattern with varied shades of gray, while custom sheer ripple-fold drapes feature a subtle stripe for distinction. In addition to personalized furniture and decor, other fresh features include light fixtures like the arching floor lamp and a pair of walnut and black-metal pendants that were installed in the entry and across from the built-in.

Of all the built-ins Wegman has done, the TV cabinet in the new living area ranks among her all-time favorites. The custom piece combines sliding panels that conceal the television, open shelving, and closed cabinetry. This stroke of genius allows the homeowners to convert the entire space from a formal living room to a more casual family room whenever they please.

The custom TV cabinet, which was a request from the husband, suits the original dining area that would have been too cramped for this family of seven. (The newly assigned dining room seats twelve.) “We needed to move the dining area to the back and make this space feel like an extension of the living room,” says Wegman. “It was tricky at first to find a layout that made sense because it’s also a high-traffic area with circulation paths on both sides of the built-in.”

Incorporating the custom built-in created a focal point along the wall, while a pair of comfy leather lounge chairs provides additional seating. A deluxe tufted daybed visually connects the two spaces without blocking any sightlines. All of the seating upholstery is easy to wipe clean.

Now, with an adaptable layout that was tailor-made from a residential reorg of sorts, all they have to do is slide the TV cabinet open to stretch their existing living room into a laid-back space for the whole family to enjoy. Convenient and ingenious features like these contribute to the comforts of home. “In the city, it’s all about flexible spaces,” says Wegman, “. . . everything needs to do double duty!”


Deborah Farmer




Home By Design Magazine
Posted in

StarLight Realty