This condo, located just off of Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s Gold Coast, has an A+ location. But it hasn’t always had an A+ design. “We were brought into the design process before they even purchased the unit; the first time I viewed the space they were under contract,” designer Elizabeth Stamos recalls. “The space was very dated before we got our hands on it. Everything was carpeted, there was a dated & very secluded galley kitchen and dark master bathroom.” The timing was perfect for Elizabeth and her team. “From a designer’s standpoint, this is ALWAYS ideal. That way, we were able to work closely with all trades to ensure that all details were cohesive and thought through.”

The clients are a vibrant, creative couple: she’s a yoga/dance instructor and he is a small business coach. They have grown children and were wanting to downsize from their single family home. “I really connected with them on their love to travel as a family unit,” the designer says. “They have made a point to go on adventures with their two boys, from the time they were little, to this day. Its special time for them to all connect. They make beautiful photo albums from each trip, and collect art and objects along the way. It was fun to incorporate all of these memories into the design of their space.”

When it comes to the design process, Elizabeth and her team work hard to figure out what the clients want aesthetically, and then filter it through their lens in the best way possible. These clients had tons of inspiration saved to Pinterest, so Elizabeth had a clear idea of their vision. “We kept the main renovations clean lined and modern, and then added character and color by sourcing some vintage pieces and streamlining their extensive art collection,” she shares. “They were adamant about keeping their existing sectional, and wanted an open space with multiple seating options. The space was funky in that there is a big mechanical stack smack in the corner of the room that kind of cuts into the layout of the space. Our goal was to keep everything connected”

The kitchen was an intimidating task. Elizabeth laughs, “I would say this kitchen was a little out of my comfort level-but no risk, no reward, right?” The condo is on the 24th floor of a large high rise, so they weren’t able to change the location of the range and hood. “It used to be a closed off space, so the hood was against a wall, but we were blasting out that wall which means that hood would be floating in the room,” she explains. “Floating a hood above an island felt scary to me. I always anchor them to walls! We decided to go for it and play with it as another design element within the space. The waterfall edge on the quartzite counters really added a fun, modern design element, as does the two toned cabinetry. To offset that and ensure it didn’t look too busy, we kept the backsplash more textural with a pretty white terracotta tile, and the cabinet fronts clean and minimal. The push and pull of all of the details came together to create a modern kitchen that still feels layered and interesting.”

From start to finish, the renovation was about 12 months. “I think we were all blown away by the transformation and when we finished, it really felt like them, it felt lived in,” Elizabeth smiles. “The biggest compliment came during our photoshoot when our clients said to us ‘I cannot believe we get to live here!’ It’s the best feeling as a designer to have clients thrilled to live in spaces we create with them.”