Video Tour | A Midwest Take on Mountain Style

Principal Designer Kelly Guinaugh invites you to enjoy a virtual tour of her latest project: a 7.5-acre estate in suburban Chicago. Video and photos by Matt Warren Photography.

Balancing Stone Accents with Softness

Several years ago, when this Northwest suburban Chicago couple was contemplating a complete renovation and two big additions to their home, they had an epiphany. Why not bring home a taste of their favorite vacation spots? The challenge: how to make that work on a 7.5 -acre estate in the low-altitude Midwest? Our aim was to meld the dramatic interior stone accents and hand-hewn woods with soft and comfortable furnishings to honor our clients’ kick-your-shoes-off theme.

Incorporating space for multiple games tables was another must-have for these clients, who love when friends and family gather to play cards, Monopoly or chess. You can find all photos of this project here: MidwestTakeonMountainStyle

Embracing Gracious, Casual Living

Most of all, these clients wanted a very peaceful environment, almost a retreat, for themselves, their two junior high-age children and their extended family and friends. Because they are very generous people, they embrace an open-door policy. They wanted their home to be gracious, but casual enough that everyone feels like they can relax and enjoy each other’s company.

great room design

The ashlar, natural stone fireplace and accent columns are softened by the upholstered furnishings and rug.

Six Fireplaces, Six Unique Personalities

Because there are six fireplaces throughout the home, we wanted each one to have a unique look that would fit the purpose and overall feeling of their setting. For the great room fireplace, above, we chose ashlar stones, which means that each natural stone is cut into squared pieces. The resulting, clean-lined appearance is less rugged than uncut stones and helped us achieve the casual-refined look we imagined for this space.  To customize the fireplace further, the builder and I drove to Wisconsin to hand-select the stone slab for the raised hearth.  We also chose a reclaimed beam for the mantle. If you check the exterior of the home, first photo above, you will see that the stone fireplace surround and columns are the same material as the exterior of the house, creating a strong connection from the outside to the inside

Layering In Furnishings

To balance the heft of the stone fireplace and accent columns on the adjacent walls, we chose quietly sophisticated, comfortable furnishings, including the leather and fabric sofas from Kravet. Because this is a space where people gather, we wanted some energy in this family-friendly room as well. To generate that excitement – and provide flexible seating – we added a quartet of ottomans, also from Kravet, upholstered in their fun version of the iconic chevron pattern.  (Learn more about chevron in our blog: BoostingEnergywithChevron.) The ottomans can be rearranged as needed when my clients are entertaining large groups.  Anchoring the space, an understated rug from DavisandDavisRugs that gently pulls together the color palette of the room.

chess table and chairs

Located next to the fireplace in the great room, this alder wood chess table is one of five game tables throughout the home.

Let the Games Begin!

Apart from designing six, completely different fireplaces, these clients posed another challenge for us: they wanted multiple game tables scattered throughout the house. That is one of the most unique requests we have ever handled for a client! We really think it’s awesome that they  want to encourage face-to-face interactions with family and friends.


Located in a cozy corner next to the fireplace, the custom chess table pictured above has recessed holders for game pieces, drink holders and a drawer on either side. The quiet grain of the alder wood and the hammered clavos details (decorative nails) at the corners, echo the great room’s Western, yet tailored, vibe.  Cushiony chairs are a must for lengthy chess matches. We chose this handsome pair of leather upholstered chairs, with forged nickel nail heads, from LeathercraftFurniture.

Board Games Promote Good Health

Research shows that board games offer more than just entertainment and togetherness, they promote good health by improving memory, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. You can read more here: HealthBenefitsofBoardGames. Our clients keep the games in sight on the tables so that people will play more often, and they do. The challenge was to make each of those game tables look “at home” in their space and have a distinctive personality.

live edge bar top in lower level

A live-edge bar top and stone accents in the lower level reference the clients’ love for their vacation lodgings out West.

Not Your Typical Bar Top

We love to bring something different and exciting to a room, such as this live-edge bar top from WehrliFurniture in the lower-level family room. We hand-selected the wood for this unusual piece, which is supported by a custom designed iron base which infuses industrial feeling in the bar area.  Several trees were planed so we could find the perfect one for the bar.  For easy clean-ups in this frequently used area, we chose a porcelain tile floor with a faux-wood finish that is one of our favorites because of its authentic, warm look. For architectural depth and interest, we also specialty painted the walls and added distressed wood wainscoting.

white kitchen

Our dark stained, hewn wood floors were the perfect foundation for soft white perimeter cabinets in the open plan kitchen. All cabinets are from AbruzzoKitchenandBath.

How to Mix Dark and Light Cabinets

To establish the correct mix of light and dark elements in the kitchen above, we chose a soft white finish for the perimeter cabinets and a medium walnut for the two islands.  To pull together the duo-colored cabinets we chose complementary quartzite countertops in creams and browns. The flooring stain was custom mixed to be a shade lighter than the stained cabinets.  We love the trio of delicate pendant lights – they remind us of paper lanterns.

vaulted family room

Overhead – a dramatic ceiling with extensive wood detailing and beams. Below – inviting, fall-into cushiony furniture.

Making a Volume Space Feel Cozy

This vaulted ceiling, with its wood paneling and decorative beams make a dramatic statement in the family room. To balance those bold architectural details, we added lots of softer elements in our furnishings. We started with a large, custom wool rug from Davis and Davis Rugs in a quiet pattern and color palette.  Designing a sofa that would be comfortable for both husband and wife was a challenge, because he is about a foot taller. The solution: We provided extra back pillows that give her the extra support she needs and allows him the flexibility to remove a pillow if needed. For extra comfort, we selected a combination ottoman and cocktail table from BurtonJames  with upholstered edges for resting feet and a wood center for placing a drink or serving a snack.

The soft furnishings serve double duty – they help absorb sound as well.   In front of the windows we added another small table with chairs where family and friends can play a game. These game-loving clients can never have too many!

masculine library

Creating a clubby retreat for the man of the house.

Husband’s Hide-Away

Clubby and comfortable, the husband’s study is equally inviting for quiet hours of reading or intimate conversations with family and friends. Against a sophisticated backdrop of stained wood cabinets, stone fireplace and coffered ceiling, we layered in the masculine details our client visualized for his retreat. Among them, leather and striped chairs from TaylorKing with nail head detailing, a hair-on-hide rug and upholstered ottoman encircled by a geometric, nail head pattern. Though the home has an open floor plan in some areas, our clients also wanted personal spaces where they can relax and rejuvenate. I understand completely. We all need a room of our own, (no matter how small,) where we can just have some time to ourselves. Check out this excellent essay from Huffington Post on the ImportanceofPersonalSpace.

great room patio

Gathering outside with the elements – a waterwall and fire place.

Fire and Water

Human beings have always been drawn to fire and water, which are beautifully combined on this elegant patio. In this conversation grouping, everyone can experience the elements while enjoying some face-to-face time outside. The woven outdoor furniture with upholstered cushions add extra layers of texture and depth to the scene.

Want to know more? Please contact me at 847.705.9569.