Another Life to Live
Luxury, charm, and room for floor hockey in a family's modern Gold Coast condo
Rich fabrics, soft colors, and curvy lines in the living room reflect homeowner Whitney Lasky's love of 1940s-era Hollywood style :::Photo Gallery
It's a classic urban dilemma: How do you create a family-friendly space for growing boys to romp through while maintaining some semblance of grown-up sophistication? Whitney Lasky and her husband, Jerry, a commercial real estate developer, were determined to find out.
"We looked for two years before we found this place," says Whitney of their dramatic 5,200-square-foot, four-bedroom condo in a 1910 Benjamin Marshall building on Astor Street. The couple moved here from a River North loft in 2004-two months after Whitney gave birth to the couple's second son (their older son is now 12). "We wanted a family place that still felt glamorous and adult-a space with a lot of character."
The Laskys kept the floor plan pretty much intact, but still wanted to make it their own. Much of their renovation involved repainting and restoring woodwork throughout the space. Then they tapped interior decorator Blaine Johnson to execute Whitney's vision. "The place felt dark and a little somber," Johnson says. "Whitney said she wanted it to feel more Parisian. She is a very glamorous girl, and she has a great eye for accessories. It's a family apartment, but it's an adult space."
Corinthian columns and a marble fireplace were part of the room's original design. :::Photo Gallery
"I like 1940s-era Hollywood style," adds Whitney, a former soap actress who appeared on One Life to Live. "That's my era. I immediately felt the drama of this place in the architectural details, with all the arches and the moldings."
Chandeliers, Art Deco mirrors, and luxurious silk window treatments are everywhere. But the vibe is far from "just look, don't touch." This is a good thing, since on Friday nights the place is usually teeming with teenage boys.
"My boys are really boy boys, and my husband is very masculine. I don't even have a dog that's a girl," Whitney says. Amid all that testosterone, Whitney unleashed her inner princess on the apartment's decor, starting with the living room-a large, airy space with soft cream strié walls, a pink wool sofa, and a marble mantelpiece from France. She had always wanted lace curtains, so Johnson designed lace panels for the windows, framing them with luxurious brown silk.
French doors lead to the library, which has bold red walls, floor-to-ceiling built-ins, and dentil crown molding. "My husband has very contemporary, classic taste," Whitney says. "It took a little convincing to get him to agree to painting the library red, but it's become his favorite room in the house." Her own most-prized feature is a magnificent paned skylight that dominates the apartment's long, L-shaped hallway. A David Iatesta chandelier anchors the space, casting refracted light against the damask-patterned wallpaper with crackled finish. "I told Blaine I wanted the chandelier to look like the bottom hoop of Cinderella's dress," Whitney says. More drama awaits on the east side of the apartment, which includes a state-of-the-art kitchen, a media room, the master bedroom, and a formal dining room with a Baccarat chandelier, a marble fireplace, and Corinthian columns. The Laskys painted the dark woodwork white to open up the space and had a mirrored bar custom-made to showcase their stemware. While the boys' rooms overflow, dizzyingly, with sports memorabilia (including a pair of fantastically kitschy NBA swivel chairs), the Lasky master bedroom is a sanctuary of soothing color and texture. Pale blue walls give the room an ethereal glow, thanks to crushed pearls and a bit of wax mixed into the paint. Portières separate the sitting room from the sleeping area's bay windows and unobstructed views of Lake Michigan.
Despite the bedroom's large walk-in closet, the Laskys needed more storage space. Johnson's solution was to design a mirrored armoire with intricate fretwork. "Dorothy Draper really inspired this piece," explains the designer. "We knew we wanted to do fretwork. I told Whitney it had to be painted white-it just had to. And she agreed."
Panoramic views of the city skyline provide a backdrop for rooftop parties. :::Photo Gallery
Nothing quite prepares a visitor for the grandeur of the Laskys' private rooftop deck, which spans nearly the length of the apartment. Stained dark chocolate, the deck can easily accommodate 100 people and features a full kitchen with granite countertops and a Viking grill.
Having been in their new digs for three years now, the Laskys are eager to stretch out. They are renovating the apartment below them to allow for more play room for the boys, create a much-needed guest room, and convert the kitchen downstairs into a laundry and arts and crafts room. Says Whitney of the new square footage, "The boys can truly have their space down there." And she can have a cocktail upstairs with her girlfriends.
For information on resources, see Buyer's Guide.
Photography: Alan Shortall
Styling: Diane Ewing