The Art of the Mix
A couple of design pros customize their new Lake View house with smart vintage furnishings and more than a touch of idiosyncrasy
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A large island topped with gray limestone separates the food-prep area of the kitchen from lounge seating—two sets of Stendig armless chairs from the 1970s. A chunky wood dining table accommodates larger groups. Photo Gallery »
When you own a successful design-build firm with plenty of finished projects to its credit (and have a BlackBerry loaded with reliable tradespeople at your fingertips), one might think the prospect of building your own house would not be all that daunting. And yet Steve Bruss and Frank Goldstin, owners of Hudson Home, were relieved when, after selling their 1920s condo on Lake Shore Drive, they came across a new-construction single-family home in Lake View that was already more than half completed. “We were so busy, it was nice to be able to just customize a project that was nearly done,” Goldstin says.
And customize they did, giving the boxy modern space its own personality—and an unpredictable one at that. Though it is only two years old, the home does not scream “new construction.”
The new-construction single-family home was more than half completed when the Hudson Home duo came across it. Photo Gallery »
“With 12-foot ceilings and no moldings, you’d expect very contemporary furniture here,” Goldstin says of the living room. Instead you find a restrained, sophisticated take on Hollywood Regency style. A baby grand anchors the south end of the long, narrow space; a pair of elegant 1940s club chairs stand in front of it. Nearby is a walnut Eames stool glammed up with lacquer; in fact, most of the wood pieces in this room were lacquered black or ebonized to create a more formal feel.
But the underlying vibe is still modern, driven by a large minimalist painting called “100 Shades of Gray” that Goldstin picked up at one of Leslie Hindman’s first auctions, an early-1960s Edward J. Wormley sofa, and a 1970s glass-and-chrome coffee table. Behind the piano, in its own corner, a heavily carved antique chair takes its cues from little else but its owners’ penchant for occasionally throwing in a wildcard.
Bruss and Goldstin designed the kitchen to function as a family room/lounge. On one side of the long center island are sink, ovens and cooktop, and streamlined floor-to-ceiling walnut cabinets. On the other, there’s a clubby seating area made up of two sets of 1970s Stendig armless chairs facing two low coffee tables.
The dining area has a chunky wood table surrounded by a combination of low-backed upholstered benches and Brno chairs by Mies van der Rohe. Near the table hangs an eclectic collection of paintings, found objects, and photographs the couple have amassed over the years. Touches like these fill the house and are the key to erasing all signs of new-construction sterility. As for the neutral color scheme: “We tried to keep everything consistent with whites, creams, grays, and browns,” says Bruss.
The exception is a sunny, predominantly yellow painting in the master bedroom that Goldstin fell in love with at the Ravenswood Antique Market. Bruss later bought it for his birthday, proving that for this couple, gut-instinct collecting still trumps all.
1. In the lounge/dining area, a Fortuny Moda floor lamp from Lightology stands in front of a collection of pieces ranging from a close-up photograph of JFK by Andy Warhol to a tortoise shell from a Michigan antique shop. 2. To create a glamorous feeling in the living room, the couple chose pieces that present a luxurious sheen from every angle, including a mirrored 1940s console and two Art Deco chairs (one is shown) that they had lacquered and reupholstered with mohair and crushed-velvet fabrics. In a bold move, they also lacquered an iconic Eames stool. The ultramodern staircase, comprised of glass, ebony-stained treads, and powder-coated steel adds it own edgy elegance. 3. The 1970s chrome and glass coffee table is a stage for “art direction,” as Goldstin describes the process of layering objects—books, boxes, flowers, coral, and ceramic pieces—to create visual interest; the 1970s Lucite ice bucket (which is not used for ice) is part of a larger collection. 4. This little seating arrangement makes for an attractive transition from the kitchen to the dining area. The couple found the wood dresser at an antique shop and had it lacquered white; the chair was a dingy mess before the couple had it reupholstered in white leather with black leather piping, and its frame also lacquered white. The vintage pre-war lamp is sitting on a tray—a favorite trick. 5. The hallway leading up to the den shows how the couple played up the home’s modern lines by staining the floors, baseboards, and door casings in shades of ebony, and contrasted the dark tones with white walls and soft touches like the wispy sheer drapes in the background. 6. Even the seafoam-green-glass-tiled bathroom gets treated like a real room, complete with custom-made lacquered-wood storage units, artwork on the walls, and a small, art-directed side table by the Duravit freestanding tub.
photography: Nathan Kirkman