PROjECT. Interiors puts a global-luxe spin on a family home in Hinsdale.
February 19, 2019 10:00 AM
“Unapologetically distinct” is how Aimee Wertepny describes the work she and her tight-knit tribe do at PROjECT. Interiors, the design studio she founded in 2005. Indeed, PROjECT. has a reputation for creating some of the most fierce living spaces in Chicago, mixing edgy pieces with glamorous, glossy, high-contrast decor—all while expressing the personality of the family who owns the home. “Our interiors evoke storytelling,” says PROjECT. designer Lauren Warnock. “Once we leave and the family’s living there, they are surrounded by collected, meaningful items that we’ve carefully curated—there’s a story to tell.”
For a recent home redesign Warnock spearheaded in Hinsdale, the story starts with a family of four with a unique travel goal: to see the seven wonders of the world together. “Channeling the family’s interest in travel was important,” Warnock says. So was displaying a few especially meaningful family heirlooms. In the dining room, she turned a collection of saris that had belonged to the owner’s mother into a piece of art, draping them on custom Lucite sculptures alongside strings of glass beads made in the mountains of Ghana by the Ashanti and Krobo tribes. The sculptures play off a pair of PROjECT.-designed head chairs sporting Lucite legs, suede fringe, black-leather-studded trim and a serious rock ’n’ roll vibe. The juxtaposition is striking.
“This house was definitely missing contrast,” Warnock says. “It was more of a dark, traditional, jewel-toned home, and they wanted to modernize it without doing a whole lot of construction.”
Because the owners love to entertain, the PROjECT. team turned what used to be a formal living room into a sexy music lounge with pops of metal, from a Maxim Lighting chandelier draped with nickel-finished jewelry chain to swoopy metallic graffiti hand-painted by artist Amanda Morrison of Colorblind. “This was our version of an oil painting,” Wertepny says of Morrison’s handiwork.
In fact, throughout the home, “our best ally was paint,” Warnock says. “We repainted pretty much every surface.” In the kitchen, rather than replace the cabinets, they painted them in a deep shade, complementing that with a new, modern island and hood. In other rooms, they paired stark white walls with rich black window frames, helping achieve the contrast they sought. “The window frames make such a bold statement,” Wertepny says. “It really changed the character of the home.”
Playful pieces—a PROjECT. signature—pop up around the house, including a Seletti pendant lamp that looks like a monkey dangling from the wall, clutching an Edison bulb on a string; and, in the kitchen, Ligne Roset Serpentine chairs designed by French artist Eléonore Nalet. “Those chairs are one of our favorite pieces ever,” Wertepny says. Resting on each simple aluminum frame is a show-stopping marshmallow-puffed white cushion, made of indoor-outdoor fabric that can handle spills, sunlight and whatever else comes its way.
Accessorizing the home’s library came back to travel. Warnock outfitted the room with many of the owners’ books from around the world, as well as other objects the family loves, including their leaning Buddha statue, a carved bone sculpture and a set of meditation bowls from India. To finish the space, Warnock chose wallpaper by Andrew Martin Studio, printed with a pattern that looks like hundreds of individual black-and-white Polaroid pictures.
Roche Bobois Sensation dining room chairs in a rich emerald are one of the few pops of color in this black, white, gray and metallic home. “I can count on one hand where there’s a moment of color in this house, but when there is, it’s there,” Warnock says.
PROjECT. even gave the outside a refresh, scattering illuminated white mod balls throughout the spacious yard, amid clean-lined outdoor furniture framed by a trellis strung with patio lights. The result is stunning, especially in front of the home’s castle-like exterior.
In the end, both Warnock and Wertepny appreciate that the owners gave PROjECT. free reign to do what the studio does best. “We do our best work when we’re allowed the freedom to be innovative, when we have clients who appreciate our creative and whacky ideas. We love working with clients that are excited about us bringing it,” Wertepny says. She’s also thankful for PROjECT.’s trusty partners, including Konrad with Konrad’s Paint Effects, who did most of the painting, and contractor Mike Zalud with Northridge Builders, who helped with an overhaul of the master bathroom—the only room they had to do a total remodel on.
“Throughout the home, we chose carefully what to demolish and what to preserve,” she says. “No need to add to a landfill if a version of what was there could be cool.”
Environmentalism and philanthropy are both important to Wertepny, Warnock and the other five members of the PROjECT. tribe. A few years ago, they traveled to Nicaragua with an organization called Build On to help build the foundation for a school. Next up is a trip to Nepal with the same organization. “We’ll do a trip every two to three years,” Wertepny says. The work is a perfect fit with their team philosophy: “Make design matter.”
PROjECT. Interiors, 3146 W. Chicago Ave., 773.394.1174. projectinteriors.com