A River Forest, Illinois home from 1953 has been given a modern revamp thanks to Rebekah Zaveloff, co-founder and design director of KitchenLab Interiors. The original owners who built the house are the Radio Flyer family (the company that makes those famous red wagons!).
Lindsay McIntyre purchased the home last year with the idea of moving her family from Edmond, Oklahoma to Chicago—they rented elsewhere while renovating their new home. The months-long process included a gut job for the kitchen and bathrooms, but the rest was just ripping up old wall-to-wall carpet, rethinking the layout, and refinishing the floors and walls—even though it hadn’t been touched since the 1950s. The family previously lived in a large, modern brand-new home in the South.
“This home was completely different and a total departure for the client from their previous home, but they were totally in love with it and had a vision, and were excited about doing something different,” explains Zaveloff.
McIntyre cited Dorothy Draper as a big design inspiration for the interiors but she also wanted that mid-century modern vibe. “We definitely went for a mid-century modern look to stay true to the home’s heritage, but wanted it to be fun and not too serious,” says Zaveloff.
“We didn’t want it to feel like you had walked onto a Mad Men set. Also, Dorothy Draper is awesome for a hotel lobby, but we weren’t sure the client (or more so, her husband) would want to live in that everyday, so we had to find the right balance.”
They bought a bunch of the furniture that was custom made for the house and also reupholstered and refinished some older pieces.
Downstairs, the original fireplace, stair railings, and original walnut paneled walls in the dining room and living room were left alone, and all the floors, originally carpeted, were redone in walnut wood to match. “We drew a lot of inspiration from California design and wanted to add a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright given his incredible history in River Forest,” says McIntyre.
Adding more color and pattern was important to the client, who had some ideas before starting the project. “She loved pinks, greens, and turquoises, and what was funny is that I had just redone our living room to work around a vintage turquoise sofa, so I had this palette on my mind. I felt that it was important to select some colors that were grayed down a bit, not too saturated, otherwise it would look like a kid’s birthday party, so finding fabrics and wallpapers to set the tone was key. And of course, we wanted a bit of brass.”
The kitchen cabinets were fashioned out of teak veneer with Jenn-Air appliances, Delta faucets, Kohler sink, Mont Blanc quartzite countertops, West Elm pendant light, and Ballard Designs window treatments. Other rooms feature lighting by Pottery Barn, rugs from One Kings Lane, and the bathrooms showcase floor and wall tiles from Merola at Home Depot and The Tile Shop.