It is not easy to create a home that suits you. It takes time, trial and error – and sometimes more than a renovation.
Chris Taylor, 41, discovered this firsthand after buying a 2,500-square-foot apartment in the Palmolive Building, an Art Deco tower in Chicago, in 2013. The unit, which cost about $ 1.35 million, had been converted from office space to condominium nearly a decade earlier, and he was doing a minor renovation to increase his sense of style.
“I wanted to nod to the Art Deco features and embrace them,” said Taylor, who works in finance. “But it was also at a time when I was still developing in my career and aspirations. And it was a big investment so there was only so much I could do with the device at the time. “
By the fall of 2019, he was well established in his career and ready to try something a little more ambitious. “I really wanted to take the apartment to the next level,” he said. “I wanted it to be comfortable, timeless, and a warm, luxurious place to live. I wanted to improve certain details and finishes in order to invest in the apartment again. “
Fortunately, he had a seasoned associate ready to help: his sister, Kate, who owned Kate Taylor Interiors, a Chicago-based design company. Ms. Taylor had designed the 2013 iteration of the apartment and was ready for another run at his Chicago apartment after designing a second home for Mr. Taylor in Laguna Beach, California.
“He’s someone who always enjoys a project,” said Ms. Taylor, 38.
In fact, Mr Taylor said he found interior design almost therapeutic. “I work in finance, so partnering with Kate on various projects gives me a creative approach that I really enjoy outside of my day-to-day job,” he said. “It’s just great, collaborative family work.”
“We get along very well,” said Ms. Taylor. “There are always bumps on the road, but we can get through it.”
This time, the unforeseen bump was the pandemic. In November 2019, Ms. Taylor began developing renovation plans with a palette of warm colors and menswear-inspired fabrics. The goal, she said, “was to make it feel like a bachelorette party, not a bachelorette party.”
She redesigned the kitchen in green lacquer and added a walnut desk corner with a reed drawer and turquoise calacatta marble. She added moldings, charcoal cashmere curtains and a moving chandelier made of glass balls in the living and dining room. She covered the walls of the cave in a fabric of wool and cashmere, and added a special sectional sofa large enough to accommodate Mr. Taylor’s 6-foot-5 frame in front of the television. She overhauled his primary walk-in closet with floor-to-ceiling walnut built-ins.
The selective demolition, including the removal of the old kitchen, began in early March last year – just in time for the project halt when the building halted all renovations as Covid-19 spread across the country.
“The apartment was in ruins,” said Ms. Taylor, and it was barely habitable.
“I had no kitchen counters, no sinks, and really no furniture,” said Mr. Taylor, who set about washing dishes in his sink. “I ran my business from a card table in an empty dining room with cardboard on the floors.”
But he was more amused than upset by his situation. “In relative terms, it pales in comparison to the other challenges,” he said. “It just made the renovation a little more memorable.”
After Memorial Day, the contractors were allowed to return to the building to continue their work. In the weeks that followed, Mr. Taylor got his new counters, sinks, and furniture and watched his sister’s vision for a polished, upscale bachelor’s block come to life. The project was completed in September for a total cost of approximately $ 450,000.
One of the few points of contention was a James Bond-themed work by artist Robert Mars that Mr. Taylor, a fan of the film franchise, picked up in Laguna Beach. As a work of art, “it may not be my first choice,” Ms. Taylor said diplomatically. But there was space for it over a console in the living room.
Such concessions are a natural part of any designer-customer relationship, even (or especially) when the people involved are siblings. And in this case your client is very happy.
“The best compliment I can give Kate is that she not only performed flawlessly, but also created an environment that I want to come home to,” said Taylor.
He said he intended to keep the refreshed apartment for many years. But his sister suspects it won’t be long before he finds another renovation project elsewhere. “I’m sure we will do this again in the near future,” she said. “And I’m happy to have him as a customer.”
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