A Modern + Unique Collaboration on Chicago’s North Shore
The most successful interiors transpire when complete collaboration and trust is established between the client and designer. A serendipitous phone call by Sarah Nolan to Chicago interior designer Julia Buckingham Edelmann, of Buckingham Interiors + Design, was the beginning of a wonderful alliance and incredible partnership between two artistic and creative women.
Read the full post about this gorgeous “Modernique” home on Chicago’s North Shore!
Sarah had recently moved to the North Shore from Arizona and could not find a home that suited her family’s modern sensibility. The Nolan’s settled on an 8,500-square-foot home that was already under construction. A day after the contract had been signed, the family left to summer at Cape Cod. Julia began work cleaning up architectural details, selecting materials, reworking baths and the kitchen, and creating two custom staircases with Bishop Woodcraft of Salt Lake City who had worked on the client’s Utah residence.
Julia and Sarah spent two years designing the spaces and traveling the country searching for artifacts to fill the interiors. This combination of unique pieces combined in a modern way has become Julia’s trademark, a term she coined “Modernique.” Julia elaborates on this concept: “where old and new sit comfortably near high and low and where the ‘rare’ punctuates the ‘real’ in every room.” The two women were completely aligned in their tastes, in their color preferences and in their styles. This incredibly fulfilling creative experience makes this home hold extraordinary significance for both the client and designer.
The entry hall acts as a gallery—clean, open and simple—to best showcase the unique items it houses. The staircase floats like a sculpture in the double height space. Custom crystal newel posts are accentuated with interior lights. Chains are introduced in the entry hall as a design motif that repeats itself throughout the home. An industrial grain belt is repurposed as hanging art. The small wooden figures on the console were found at the Brimfield Antiques Show. A professor of architecture at Harvard hand-carved the wooden pieces and painted them with pigment he mixed himself. The unique curated mix of hand-crafted artifacts with contemporary furnishings and artwork has led Julia to become one of the country’s most sought after interior designers.
In the dining room, a Native American sculpture found at the Chicago Botanical Gardens Antiques Show presides proudly in a corner. Julia had the base made so the sculpture would be the same height as Sarah. A set of dining chairs and table from Bradley were part of a vignette Julia had staged at Chicago’s “Dining by Design.” A diptych painted with 24-karat gold and oil is by Los Angeles-based Lori Hyland and was found through GLAM, an art consulting firm. Lori transforms every canvas by abstracting unexpected relationships through her painting. Italian animal-patterned fabric by Brochier used for the drapery adds an ethnic vibe.
Many of the design decisions were inspired by the art—a top priority for the clients. The first commission by Los Angeles artist Francine Turk established the palette for the living room and adjoining areas. Known for her figurative work, Francine works with abstracted color relationships to invite the viewer into the depth and simplicity of her work. The gray, aubergine, taupe and plum found in the painting are translated into the fabrics and accents throughout the interior spaces. The commission, titled “Mayree’s White Horse,” is named after the daughter’s beloved equine companion. “Homage to Magritte” by legendary fashion photographer Victor Skrebneski hangs above the fireplace.
A mid-century portrait of a lady holds court over the family room. Julia found the painting at Brimfield and was being sold through an art consortium of museums that were deaccessioning their collections. A serene and moody landscape by Donna Hughes is a perfect counterpoint to the expressive brushstrokes in the portrait. Contemporary upholstery mixed with found objects, such as the African grain sorting table used as a coffee table, reinforces Julia’s “modernique” aesthetic.
The attention to detail and the custom finishes throughout the residence are extraordinary. In Sarah’s office, linen burlap is applied to the fireplace wall. The edges of each square are frayed and then painted to stay in place creating a stunning three-dimensional effect. The photograph above the fireplace by Julie Blackman depicts the fantastic images of everyday life, searching to find the mythic among the chaos. This work held special significance because the girl in the image resembles Sarah’s daughter. The desk in the foreground is from Bradley. The light fixture is made of vintage industrial parts. The chain motif is seen again in the printed grasscloth from Phillip Jeffries. A polished concrete sink on a metal base is from Bradley.
Mayree’s bedroom is not your typical teenage girl’s room. She told Julia that she wanted a layered, neutral bedroom of grays, reclaimed wood and industrial elements. The hanging bed shows the chain motif used in other areas of the home. Behind the bed, a wall is treated with a Mica wall covering from Maya Romanoff. French shutters from the 18th century, with their original patina, adorn another wall. A Gustavian secretary from the mid-19th century, with original orange striped interior, adds an unexpected dose of color to the otherwise neutral space.
The art takes center stage again in Mayree’s office. The images are by renowned Atlanta artist Todd Murphy. The French desk is from the 1940s and the ombre fabric at the window is custom made to ensure the gradations are proportionate to the space in which it will be displayed. The artist photographs items found in nature and uses software to create a photomontage of these images onto the dress form. His works possess the underlying themes of metamorphosis, allusion and capturing life in the moment.
The third floor houses Julia’s favorite space in the home: a getaway for Mayree and her friends. Decorated with bold colors, it is the perfect hangout for teenage girls, complete with custom-built vanities and makeup and hair styling stations.
The Nolan residence illustrates perfectly Julia’s creative process. Each project is extremely individualized. A shared moment between the client and the designer becomes the spark that ignites the creative fire driving the design process. For Sarah and Julia, this favorable collaboration has turned into five additional design projects around the country for various members of Sarah’s family.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Julia Buckingham Edelmann is a true North Shore native. She grew up in the same neighborhood where she currently lives, met her husband in kindergarten at the local grade school, and remains active in her community. In her teens, she moved from her beloved Midwest to the unfamiliar Southwest when her family relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico. She fell in love with the region and the experience greatly influenced her awareness of primitive and folk art, organic shapes and different cultures. Julia began her career in the fast-paced world of fashion, traveling around the globe and cultivating her discerning eye. An annual trip to Paris each year with friends turned into a flourishing antiques business. She began showing in prominent fairs nationwide such as the NYC Pier Antiques Show and the Bridgehampton Antiques Show. Her design practice grew out of this antiques business as friends began asking her to help place antiques in their homes. Buckingham Interiors + Design was established in 2007 and has rapidly grown into one of the nation’s top design studios. Her award-winning interiors bridge the past and the future in her signature style. In addition to overseeing the BID studio and showroom located in West Town Chicago, Julia also is a contributor to 1st Dibs and writes for the popular blog Material Girls, which offers design points-of-view from coast to coast.