This Lincoln Park home by Aimee Wertepny + Jennifer Kranitz of Chicago design firm PROjECT. embodies their “interior as biography” approach to design. It’s elegant, bold, resourceful, intentional and creative—and ultimately, a reflection of their clients and their personalities. The style of the space is Manhattan-meets-Chicago, telling the story of the NYC family who put down roots in the Windy City. The modern space is classic with an edge, with unique details around every corner. The designers tell us more:

Tell us about this home. Where is it located? How did the neighborhood influence the design?

This project is in a condo building in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Lincoln Park is an affluent neighborhood common for young families to settle into with its ample parks, the Zoo and Lake Michigan close by—and since the homeowners were a young family who relocated from NYC, the location was perfect for their active lifestyle. 

The location was a major influence on the home’s design because the building overlooked Oz Park making treetops and skyline views visible from all windows. We definitely wanted to play up the views through neutral colors, organic textures and minimal furnishings that supported the greenery outside. We even built the desk into a window nook in the office to ensure that working from home came with a view! 

What was the design goal for the homeowners? Any must-haves?

The design goal with this home was to create a space that felt cool enough for their NY vibes, but livable for the reality of their day-to-day life—which translated into clean lines, comfort, and durability. Our job was to push them out of their comfort zone while softening the space. We gave the open concept a light + airy feel through sheer window coverings and subtle light fixtures but re-envisioned the powder room as this black box for a bold moment. One way to distinguish their edgier style was by introducing finishes that aren’t as common with other homes in the area [ie. brass accents, pops of black].

Since the clients were NYC transplants, how did you translate their Manhattan style to their Chicago home?

To incorporate their Manhattan style, we played up those black + brass moments that they loved to add some drama. By keeping the majority of the space light, bright + ethereal, it made the bold black-on-black moments pop even more. At PROjECT. we’re all about high-contrast design and flipping the script, so naturally, we introduced them to a blacked-out kitchen with ebony-stained cabinetry by Demeter Millwork and an integrated black leathered countertop + backsplash. And we love installing things in an unexpected way, like cutting the Bianco Dolomiti wall tile into angular shapes in the primary bathroom for visual intrigue. The entire home is well-edited with fine detailing.

Did this project have any challenges? 

One of the biggest challenges we had was working within a space that lacked volume. Like many buildings in the neighborhood, the ceilings were pretty low, so we really had to work the lighting in order to ensure our choices played nicely together but fit within the space. And with city living comes the logistical challenges of transporting and installing the custom furniture with limited elevator access. But it’s what we do, so we’ll get it done. The homeowners didn’t come with much when they relocated, so we had to get creative with the interior styling to capture the full effect of the space. Whenever clients have more of a minimal vibe, there’s always a [fun] challenge to zhuzh up the space with some additional accessories. 

How long did the project take, and what did the client say when they saw the finished space?

From beginning to end, the project took about 6-8 months. We were finishing the installation right before COVID shutdowns and restrictions, so we were fortunate to finish around the holidays before we had to face the new reality of remote meetings and shipping delays.

The homeowners were so happy with how their space turned out and loved how we were able to make the home feel modern yet warm + functional. When we work with clients, there’s a deep bond of trust that has to be in place because they are entrusting you to bring their vision to life—even if they aren’t sure what that vision is or how to describe it. There were moments in this project where they would just wave their hands around and we understood what they were talking about. Design is almost its own little language in that way. We are so proud of the final product as well. I personally love the juxtaposition of all of the elements in the home—charred wood, leather fringe, smoked glass, global textiles, rattan, polished brass, shredded linen, hair on hide—it’s an eclectic mash up that represents what we’re all about.